Automobile: The Next Major Technology Platform - Part II - Infotainment, Navigation and Telematics

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Jun. 20 2013, 07:00AM EDT

This is the second post of a three part series covering some of the exciting news and developments in the connected-car industry.

Please be sure to check out part one and part three. This post features the three categories of connected car services; Infotainment, Navigation and Telematics as well as several recent news announcements. According to Connected Cars World, the trade association divides connected car services into three categories; Infotainment, Navigation and Telematics.

  • Infotainment - Includes in-vehicle services such as real-time radio, video, news, weather alerts and on-demand music services like Spotify, iHeart Radio and Pandora. Infotainment also includes in-vehicle applications that incorporate social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as voice and messaging applications. The most popular and commonly used type of in-vehicle application is infotainment. Many car consumers are starting to treat and use their vehicles in the same way as their smartphones.
  • Navigation - Includes in-vehicle services and applications related to parking, fuel, travel times, travel locations and destinations as well as real-time traffic information such as traffic monitoring, traffic alerts and warnings.Navigation also includes vehicle insurance applications such as usage based insurance and emergency calls.
  • Telematics - Includes in-vehicle services such as safety alerts, remote door lock and unlock, remote diagnostics and maintenance, stolen vehicle tracking, vehicle breakdown help and roadside assistance.The GM OnStar unit is a great example of an in-vehicle telematics application. The OnStar in-vehicle service features three buttons that provide drivers the ability to make calls, request directions and call for help in an emergency.

New QNX CAR Platform Caters to Car Infotainment Developers

Earlier in June, QNX Software Systems announced that the upcoming new version of the QNX CAR Platform will provide car infotainment developers access to a broader range of mobile apps and content. The QNX CAR Platform is an in-vehicle infotainment software system that includes a variety of pre-integrated and optimized technologies provided from QNX ecosystem partners. Ecosystem partners include 7Digital, AccuWeather, Pandora, BestParking, HearPlanet, The Weather Network and many others. Andy Gryc, Senior Automotive Product Marketing Manager of QNX Software Systems, states for the press release that:

"Automakers need to tap into the rapid innovation of the mobile app community - it's the surest way to keep vehicles fresh with new and engaging features, stay connected with consumers, and, ultimately, build greater brand loyalty. From the beginning, the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment was designed to support mobile standards and, thanks to its flexible architecture, our customers will soon have the opportunity to access an even larger share of the mobile ecosystem."

Nuance Communications, Inc Acquires Tweddle Connect

Back in August of last year, ProgrammableWeb reported that Tweddle Group had released the Head Unit Update API which was a new and important enhancement to the Tweddle Connected Services Platform. A few weeks ago, Nuance Communications, Inc. announced that the company had signed an agreement with Tweddle Group to acquire the Tweddle Connect business. The Tweddle Connect Platform aggregates popular third-party applications and content such as Bing, iHeart Radio, OpenTable and Pandora and delivers the content to in-car infotainment systems. Nuance is a provider of voice, text-to-speech and natural language understanding solutions including Dragon Drive, a voice platform designed so that users can activate mobile content using voice activation through in-car systems. In the press release, Michael Thompson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Nuance Mobile, states that:

"We see explosive growth in the connected car market, and there is clear demand from automakers to deliver safer and more intuitive access to the content and apps that people know and love. The strategic combination of Nuance and Tweddle Connect will greatly improve the ability to bring an important category of content – third party applications and web services – into connected car systems. With this acquisition, Nuance is leveraging an opportunity to increase the value and usability of connected car systems, while accelerating Nuance’s ability to give automakers the elements needed for branded, differentiated connected car experiences."

Next Generation of Clarion Smart Access to Include Google Web Services

Earlier this month, Clarion Corporation of America, a leading manufacturer of high-performance in-car and marine-based entertainment systems, announced the integration of Google cloud-based voice recognition, mapping and search services with the next generation of the Clarion Smart Access connectivity platform. The Clarion Smart Access Connectivity Platform is described by Clarion as an "advanced cloud-based information access, analysis and sharing platform" and provides users with a variety of applications and services that are optimized for in-vehicle use. Applications currently available include Pandora, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Tweet4Car, Waze and others. Richard Suhr, Director of Enterprise Geo Japan and Asia, comments about the addition of Google web services to the Clarion Smart Access infotainment system in the press release:

"Clarion's Smart Access infotainment system will provide drivers with a connected, secure and comfortable in-car experience. The integration of the Google Places API means access to a rich and constantly refreshed database of over 80 million restaurants, stores and other points of interest to explore. Send-to-Car will allow drivers to send a Google Maps destination like a restaurant, store or park, directly to their car's Smart Access system and, with Google Voice Search, drivers will be able to safely discover destinations by naturally speaking their queries instead of having to type them."

The Next Post

The next and final post of this three-part series features the concept of the Automobile as the next major technology platform.

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, open data, data visualization and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

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