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Keeping it fresh for 35 years

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

By Megan Alink, Director of Marketing Communications for Automotive

Recently, my colleagues Paul Leroux and Matt Young showed off a shiny new infographic that enlightens readers to the many ways they encounter QNX-based systems in daily life (here and here). After three-and-a-half decades in business we’ve certainly been around the block a time or two, and you might think things are getting a bit stale. As the infographic shows, that couldn’t be further from the truth here at QNX. From up in the stars to down on the roads; in planes, trains, and automobiles (and boats too); whether you’re mailing a letter or crafting a BBM on your BlackBerry smartphone, the number and breadth of applications in which our customers deploy QNX technology is simply astounding.

For those who like some sound with their pictures, we also made a video to drive home the point that, wherever you are and whatever you do, chances are you’ll encounter a little QNX. Check it out:

Building smartphone-caliber connectivity into cars

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paul Leroux
Implementing cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in a vehicle is never trivial. But with the right technology, the task can become a lot simpler.

When it comes to selling cars, just how important is connectivity? Can the services provided by connected cars, such as Internet radio, remote diagnostics, and real-time traffic information, influence vehicle buying decisions? And if so, how much?

In 2014, telecom giant Telefónica decided to find out. In a survey of 5000 consumers, the company found that 71% of respondents were interested in using, or were already using, connected car services. Other studies report similar findings. Parks Associates, for example, found that 78% of people who already own a connected car will demand connectivity features in their next vehicle.

Of course, “connected car” means different things to different people. It could, for example, refer to a car that has a built-in cellular modem, or to a car that uses the driver’s smartphone to access online services. Moreover, the features offered by my connected car may differ completely from the features offered by your connected car. But no matter what form it takes, or what applications it enables, connectivity in the car can be a challenge to implement. In a recent blog post on LinkedIn, Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics attests to this difficulty, stating that nearly every car maker seeking to implement connectivity has stumbled on issues ranging from bad connections and poor user interfaces to interminable delays.

Consider, for example, the challenge of embedding a cellular modem in a vehicle — or any other embedded device, for that matter. Initializing and managing the modem requires a large set of software that, among other things, must:

  • handle modem reset and recovery, because even the best modems crash
  • monitor and manage power consumption to optimize current draw
  • ensure data throughput and reliability
  • reduce or eliminate call-drops and call-setup failures

The challenge doesn’t stop there. Network operators, for example, are paying more attention to M2M connections on their networks, thereby increasing the demand for operator-approved modems and modules. Meanwhile, system designers may need to swap out modems to target different regions or price points, or to take advantage of newer, more capable modem technology. The goal, then, is to implement a flexible, future-proofed design that can accommodate such changes with a bare minimum of fuss.

Enter a new webinar hosted by my colleagues Karen Bachman and Leo Forget. In “Applying smartphone wireless technology to connected embedded systems,” they will examine the challenges of embedding wireless connectivity and explore how to address these challenges through software frameworks developed for smartphones and other mobile devices. True to the title, Karen and Leo will look at use cases not just for automotive, but for other industries as well, such as medical and industrial. The bulk of the conversation, though, will focus on common issues that embedded developers face, regardless of the device type they are building.

Attend this webinar to learn about:

  • Applications that stand to benefit the most from wireless connectivity
  • Challenges and complexity of bringing connectivity to cars and other embedded systems
  • Potential security and privacy risks introduced by wireless connectivity, including unauthorized access and unencrypted data transfer
  • The benefits of creating flexible products that easily accommodate advances in modem technology

Here are the webinar coordinates:

Applying smartphone wireless technology to connected embedded systems

Thursday, March 26, 2015
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST
Register: TechOnLine

Long time, no see: Catching up with the QNX CAR Platform

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

By Megan Alink, Director of Marketing Communications for Automotive

It’s a fact — a person simply can’t be in two places at one time. I can’t, you can’t, and the demo team at QNX can’t (especially when they’re brainstorming exciting showcase projects for 2016… but that’s another blog. Note to self.) So what’s a QNX-loving, software-admiring, car aficionado to do when he or she has lost touch and wants to see the latest on the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment? Video, my friends.

One of the latest additions to our QNX Cam YouTube channel is an update to a video made just over two and a half years ago, in which my colleague, Sheridan Ethier, took viewers on a feature-by-feature walkthrough of the QNX CAR Platform. Now, Sheridan’s back for another tour, so sit back and enjoy a good, old-fashioned catch-up with what’s been going on with our flagship automotive product (with time references, just in case you’re in a bit of a hurry).

Sheridan Ethier hits the road in the QNX reference vehicle based on a modified Jeep Wrangler, running the latest QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment.

We kick things off with a look at one of the most popular elements of an infotainment system — multimedia. Starting around the 01:30 mark, Sheridan shows how the QNX CAR Platform supports a variety of music formats and media sources, from the system’s own multimedia player to a brought-in device. And when your passenger is agitating to switch from the CCR playlist on your MP3 device to Meghan Trainor on her USB music collection, the platform’s fast detection and sync time means you’ll barely miss a head-bob.

The QNX CAR Platform’s native multimedia player — the “juke box” — is just one of many options for enjoying your music.

About five minutes in, we take a look at how the QNX CAR Platform implements voice recognition. Whether you’re seeking out a hot latté, navigating to the nearest airport, or calling a co-worker to say you’ll be a few minutes late, the QNX CAR Platform lets you do what you want to do while doing what you need to do — keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Don’t miss a look at concurrency (previously discussed here by Paul Leroux) during this segment, when Sheridan runs the results of his voice commands (multimedia, navigation, and a hands-free call) smoothly at the same time.

Using voice recognition, users can navigate to a destination by address or point of interest description (such as an airport).

At eight minutes, Sheridan tells us about one of the best examples of the flexibility of the QNX CAR Platform — its support for application environments, including native C/C++, Qt, HTML5, and APK for running Android applications. The platform’s audio management capability makes a cameo appearance when Sheridan switches between the native multimedia player and the Pandora HTML5 app.

Pandora is just one of the HTML5 applications supported by the QNX CAR Platform.

As Sheridan tells us (at approximately 12:00), the ability to project smartphone screens and applications into the vehicle is an important trend in automotive. With technologies like MirrorLink, users can access nearly all of the applications available on their smartphone right from the head unit.

Projection technologies like MirrorLink allow automakers to select which applications will be delivered to the vehicle’s head unit from the user’s connected smartphone. 

Finally, we take a look at two interesting features that differentiate the QNX CAR Platform — last mode persistence (e.g. when the song you were listening to when you turned the car off starts up at the same point when you turn the car back on) and fastboot (which, in the case of QNX CAR, can bring your backup camera to life in 0.8 seconds, far less than the NHTSA-mandated 2 seconds). These features work hand-in-hand to ensure a safer, more enjoyable, more responsive driving experience.

Fastboot in 0.8 seconds means that when you’re ready to reverse, your car is ready to show you the way.

Interested in learning more about the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment? Check out Paul Leroux’s blog on the architecture of this sophisticated piece of software. To see QNX CAR in action, read Tina Jeffrey’s blog, in which she talks about how the platform was implemented in the reimagined QNX reference vehicle for CES 2015.

Check out the video here:



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