Category: In-vehicle infotainment and telematics

Android Auto now for every car independent of the head unit

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Android main interactive lock screen

Your Android phone could become its own driver-friendly interaction screen for Android Auto

Google

Android Auto Available In Every Car (Blog Post)

My Comments

Android Auto provides a driving-friendly “extension” for your Android-based smartphone on your car’s dashboard. This yields a simplified user interface for audio, navigation, communications and allied apps so you can use them at the wheel.

Increasingly most of the vehicle builders are offering Android Auto compatible infotainment setups for most of the models with a few car-audio manufacturers running with aftermarket head units that have this functionality. But not everyone can benefit from this technology at the moment, perhaps due to a vehicle builder like Toyota not providing support or you maintaining an existing car that doesn’t have this functionality.

Google has answered this problem with version 2 of Android Auto which has the ability to use your Android phone’s screen as an Audroid Auto user interface. This is being rolled out during the current major update cycle for the Android Auto app.

Cassette adaptor in use with a smartphone

An Android phone running Android Auto 2.0 can bring this cassette-adaptor-based setup for classic car stereos to current expectations

Here, you would install your phone on an in-vehicle mounting kit such as the kind that uses a suction cup to anchor to your vehicle’s windscreen. This will allow for your phone to be operated in a stable and road-legal manner while you are driving.

But you can have the sound come through your car’s speakers via a hands-free kit or car stereo that has Bluetooth communications-level or multimedia-level audio compatibility. Or you can use a 3.5mm auxiliary cable or cassette adaptor connected to your smartphone to have its sound through your car stereo. For those of us who have the Bluetooth-based setup, you can set the app to start automatically when your phone connects to the Bluetooth in-car audio device.

This update is infact taking advantage of the Android phablets and smartphones that have the larger display, making it viable for us to use them as a control surface for Android Auto setups. As well, some accessory builders are even taking advantage of this ability by offering Bluetooth-capable mounting kits that provide automatic enablement for Android Auto setups.

I also can see this benefiting the “two-wheeled” community once appropriate mounting kits become available for installation on to bikes and motorcycles. Here, they could use a Bluetooth headset or helmet and benefit from the reduced-interaction abilities that Android Auto offers so their hands are effectively on the handlebars and their eyes on the road all the time.

A good question to raise would be whether Android 2.0 could support a dual-device setup where an Android tablet could serve as a Android Auto display/control device, which could please those of us who want to integrate a 7”-8” tablet to bring Android Auto to our vehicles. Similarly, implementing Android Auto over a MirrorLink setup could open up paths for increased compatibility with infotainment setups.

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Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to face automotive infotainment realities

Android Auto in Chevrolet Malibu dashboard courtesy of © General Motors (Chevrolet)

Android Auto in Chevrolet Malibu – could work more tightly with the vehicle’s infotainment system
© General Motors

I have read a few online reviews about the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile infotainment platforms but some issues have come up concerning how these platforms work.

One key issue is to allow Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to work with the car infotainment system’s existing functionality. Typically, if you want to listen to broadcast radio, a CD or other source that the infotainment setup provides, you have to “switch out” of the Apple or Android platform to a “normal” car-radio mode. To the same extent, if you want to adjust the way your music sounds, you may have to switch away from these platforms.

It is also underscored with an increasing number of vehicles which implement the infotainment LCD screen for a trip-computer, secondary-gauges, HVAC or similar functionality. Then, if you want to use your smartphone in this level of functionality, you have to run an app supplied by the infotainment system’s manufacturer or vehicle builder.

This problem may have to be answered through the use of a “hook” app that works with the CarPlay or Android Auto platforms to provide access to existing sources and other functions provided by the infotainment system.

Such an app would require the creation of a virtual “source” for CarPlay or Android Auto multimedia apps that exists alongside the broadcast radio, the optical-disc player and other similar sources. An “information” source could exist for navigation, and notifications while a “communications” source works with the phone,  over-the-top communications apps like Viber and Skype, and the voice-driven personal assistant.

Realistic car stereo radio-cassette (12-1892) - 1981 catalog shot - RadioShackCatalogs.com

An example of one of the Realistic car stereos that came alive when you pushed a tape in irrespective of whether you had the radio on or off

This may have to cause behaviour like some car radio/cassette players of the late 70s and early 80s like just about all of the Pioneer, and Realistic (Radio Shack) model ranges. Here, these car stereos came alive and started playing a tape when you pushed that tape in the slot irrespective of whether you had the radio on or not, and completely shut down when you ejected that tape if you didn’t have the radio on before you had the tape playing. In the context of the AirPlay and Android Auto setups, if you did something like get Spotify, Pandora or TuneIn Radio going, the “hook” app would come alive with the sounds of that streaming audio app whether you had the car radio going or not.

It may also be about gaining control of the radio or other sources like tuning in stations, selecting preset stations or playing particular songs on a CD or USB stick. Similarly, it could be about adjusting the way the system sounds such as implementing a sound preset or increasing the bass or treble. The integrated systems may also have to be able to show information about the heating or trip computer such as fuel range or current temperature.

Apple and Google could improve this further by providing an application-programming-interface and driver model for managing local sources, sound adjustment and other functionality. This can open up paths to permit the creation of app-store apps that exploit these sources and functionalities further.

For example, the PowerAmp music player software for Android, which has integrated graphic-equaliser functionality could gain the ability to exchange equaliser presets with a car sound system’s graphic equaliser. Similarly, a radio app could support “universal dial” behaviour to allow you to tune to local radio stations using the car radio’s tuner but when you are away from your vehicle, it will choose the station’s Internet stream.

So what needs to happen is that Google and Apple need to work on ways to tie in their automotive extensions to their mobile operating platforms to simplify the way these platforms work with the infotainment systems and their extant sources.

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QNAP releases an ultra-compact SSD NAS

Article – From the horse’s mouth

QNAP QNAP logo courtesy of QNAP

TBS-453A NASBook Ultra-Compact SSD NAS

Product Page

My Comments

QNAP has just lately offered the TBS-453A NASBook which is an ultra-compact 4-drive NAS that is designed to work with solid-state drives rather than hard disks,

But this solid-state-drive NAS is a different breed to the portable NAS units offered to mobile users who exchange data between laptops and tablets. This is about Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi connectivity along with a 4-disk RAID array for performance or data safety, and increased functionality thanks to a desktop-grade NAS app store offered by QNAP.

The drives that are preferred for this device are the M.2 type that are typically used for Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s with this device being about the size of a B5 notebook. As well, it is powered by a 19-volt power brick but can accept voltages between 10 volts and 20 volts DC. This makes it suitable for a wide range if industrial and similar uses and could appeal to automotive and marine use, if there was a way to support externally-switched power control expected for such use.

It also has a 4-port Ethernet switch for one network along with a single Gigabit Ethernet socket for another network and this can be set up to work effectively like a router or to serve its own network.

As well, like other QNAP NAS units, this implements the QTS operating system with an increasing array of apps for business and personal use. But it also can be set up as a Linux computer by implementing a virtualised dual-operating-system setup and has the necessary “console” connections for this purpose. That is HDMI for display and audio connection along with USB connections for keyboard and mouse purposes. Like some recent QNAP NAS units, it also has its own audio interface which makes it appeal as a multimedia computer in its own right.

You can also expand this book-size NAS to work with a regular disk array by installing UX-800P and UX-500P multi-disk expansion modules this allowing you to create RAID disk arrays with these disks.

Tool or toy?

This kind of “far-fetched” cutting-edge network-attached-storage device could be easily dismissed as a toy rather than a tool, but there are some applications where it could earn its keep as a tool.

One would be to exist as a highly-capable Ethernet-connected portable NAS or server device that you use in a “mobile-office” setting. Similarly, you could see this being used with a home network where you want the multimedia functionality like DLNA Network Media Server functionality looked after but without dealing with a noisy or power-inefficient device. This would also win favours with home-AV manufacturers and distributors who are showcasing their network-capable hi-fi and home-theatre equipment at the hotel-based hi-fi shows like what the Chester Group are running. As well, QNAP are pitching this device in the Internet Of Things and building-security applications scenarios where this NAS could record data from sensor-type devices or visual images from network cameras yet be able to work with low power demands.

QNAP could see the TBS-453A as an effort to approach vehicle and marine applications for NAS devices along with courting mobile workgroups, remote data collection or other setups where portability, low power consumption or reduced operating noise are highly valued.

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Kenwood simplifies switching between CarPlay and Android Auto

Article

Kenwood launches CarPlay and Android Auto touch dashboard | Mashable

From the horse’s mouth

Kenwood USA

Product Pages (DDX99025 eXcelon. DDX97025)

My Comments

Pioneer had introduced aftermarket car stereo units that work with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But there were issues with providing a smooth switchover between the two operating environments, which is an issue with households where different members have different smartphone platforms.

Now Kenwood released a pair of double-DIN car head units that can switch between these platforms without the need to perform awkward operation steps like visiting the configuration menu. Most likely this depends on what smartphone is actually connected to the car stereo rather than what the car stereo is actually set up for.

Both of these systems are DVD receivers which have the double-DIN form factor to accommodate the large 6.95” screen and pick up HD Radio stations on the AM and FM bands. They have support for Bluetooth operation with the common profiles and can work alongside any smartphone for Spotify, iHeartRadio and Aupeo.

They have internal amplifiers which work to 22w for each of the four speakers and have pre-out connections for the front speakers, the rear speakers and a subwoofer which means that they could work with a car sound system that has the full street cred. They would cost a fair bit of money with the DDX99025 costing US$950 and the DDX97025 costing US$900, but would please those young males who place value on their car as something to impress.

What it at leas shows is the arrival of a contingent of car multimedia equipment that does have native support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in a manner that can be applied to existing vehicles.

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TuneIn Radio brings Internet radio to the car courtesy of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Article

TuneIn Android screenshot

TuneIn – now to be ready for the car with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

If you have Android Auto, you should get TuneIn Radio | Android Authority

TuneIn Radio adds real radio stations to CarPlay + Apple Watch controls | 9to5Mac

My Comments

The new smartphone platforms are working together with the TuneIn Radio app to bring Internet radio to the car.

Those of you who may have cottoned on to Spotify or similar online music services may have forgotten about what Internet radio is all about. This is where traditional radio broadcasters run an Internet stream that is effectively a simulcast of what you would hear on a radio that was tuned to that station. In some cases, it may be seen as the “new shortwave” because of the ability to listen to “out-of-area” radio like overseas stations.

The TuneIn Radio app which has been developed for just about all of the desktop and smartphone operating systems has been able to bring the joy of Internet radio to your laptop, smartphone or tablet in an easy-to-find manner. Here, you could be in Australia where commercial popular-music radio doesn’t excel on variety but you could listen to a station like Heart London, known for their large variety of pop music from the flare-flappin’ disco-infused 70s to new, on your smartphone.

In the early days of HomeNetworking01.info, I raised the concept of Internet radio in the car in response to a question a teenager who was about to get his driver’s licence raised when he heard an Iranian station on an Internet radio that I previously reviewed.  There have been some attempts by car-radio manufacturers and vehicle builders to achieve this goal as part of the connected car. Now TuneIn Radio had written in code to their iOS and Android apps to make it work tightly with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in-dash infotainment platforms. For that matter, these platforms are available in an aftermarket form courtesy of Pioneer but Alpine and Kenwood are intending to roll their own versions of head units with these platforms out soon.

Owing to the nature of Internet radio, both these implementations wouldn’t provide the same kind of “few-control” experience associated with tuning for new local stations on the AM and FM bands with an ordinary car radio. Personally, I would prefer to have TuneIn Radio give drivers one-touch access to all their favourites whether through “paging” through each station in the favourites or a list of stations on the screen that they can touch. This can provide a similar experience to what most of us have experienced when “jabbing” the preset buttons on the car radio to find what one of our favourte stations comes up with.

At the moment, work will need to be done to allow mapping of hardware controls to CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces so that “up-down” and “numbered-preset” buttons on the dashboard or steering wheel can be of use with these interfaces. This will achieve support for tactile control of music apps using familiar car-audio interfaces.

At least what is coming through is that Internet radio, along with Spotify and similar services, is being valued as part of the connected car in many different ways.

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Hyundai to launch the first vehicle to come with Android Auto

Article

Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata press photo courtesy of Hyundai America

Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

First production car powered by Android Auto rolls out – and it’s a Hyundai | The Register

From the horse’s mouth

Hyundai America

Press Release

My Comments

Android Auto is starting to appear in production vehicles firstly with Hyundai. Here, this isn’t an extra-cost add-on or prototype, rather something that is par for the course for the vehicle’s premium trim levels.

This will be in the form of their 2015 Sonata executive sedan and only on the Eco, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T trim levels. As well, you would need to make sure that you have bought the “Navigation” option for your vehicle. These trim levels will come with a large LCD touchscreen as part of an infotainment system that can handle Apple AirPlay and Android Auto.

2015 Hyundai Sonata press picture courtesy of Hyundai America

2015 Sonata

But Hyundai is also extending this option to those of us who have already purchased the eligible vehicles by supplying it as a free upgrade. This is done by you downloading the new firmware from the MyHyundai website and copying it to a USB memory key to install in to your vehicle. Here, I would recommend that those of you who are unsure about this process have the firmware upgrade done by your Hyundai dealership’s mechanics when you have your vehicle serviced by them.

A good question that I would raise would be whether this option will be rolled out across other current-model-year Hyundai vehicles like the Tucson or Veloster that have the high-end navigation / infotainment system as standard for their trim level or can be “optioned up” to this functionality. Similarly, will any of the other vehicle builders offer Android Auto as an in-place upgrade or as standard for existing vehicles with the right infotainment system?

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Porsche releases a navigation radio head unit for its legendary classic cars

Article

Porsche offers to put modern tech in the dash of your classic 911 | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Porsche

Press Release

My Comments

Those of you who are keeping that legendary Porsche 911 alive may want to have a multimedia system that has the best of both worlds – something that doesn’t look out of place in your sport’s car’s dashboard yet is able to work smoothly with your smartphone.

Cassette adaptor in use with a smartphone

This may be the way to use your smartphone with your classic car’s stereo

This is rather than maintaining the Becker, Blaupunkt or Eurovox radio that came with the car and coupling your smartphone to a cassette adaptor or, worse still, an FM transmitter to have it work with the radio; using a Parrot multimedia smartphone adaptor installed between the existing radio and the speakers; or running a third-party head unit that may be considered by some to be out-of-place in the sports machine’s dashboard.

This radio is manufactured for Porsche Classic which is a division within Porsche that focuses on supporting the fleet of classic Porsche sports cars still on the road in that “stylish yet cool” manner. Activities include supplying original spare parts, technical literature and specially-refined motor oil for Porsches over 10 years old, and they even engage in restoration work to make these cars be young again.

The new radio that Porsche offers maintains the traditional car-radio look with two knobs flanking a control-panel “nose-piece” in the centre that typically had the dial and push-buttons for a radio and a tape slot and applicable transport controls radios that had a tape player. This layout was common for equipment installed in cars of the 70s and before with cars issued since the early 1980s having radios with controls that were located across the unit’s face. But there are six short-cut buttons on the outside and a colour touchscreen on the inside.

It has an FM RDS radio optimised to work with OEM whip aerial along with integrated sat-nav function with the data stored on a MicroSD card. As we; the radio can be connected to a USB memory stick or iPod full of music; as well as serving as a Bluetooth handsfree unit for a mobile phone. There was scant mention of whether it can do Bluetooth A2DP-compliant multimedia playback.

At the moment, the price for this radio is EUR€1184 VAT inclusive with the premium being for integration to the Porsche legacy. I also see this as a way to allow older drivers who spent most of their driving career through the 1960s to the 1980s or people who grew up with these drivers maintain the “comfort zone” associated with the traditional car-radio layout.

Porsche’s effort with this radio could be the start of a big question on how car-audio manufacturers and vehicle builders can court the classic-car scene with today’s technology and will come to the fore while people like retired mechanics see the idea of fixing up and driving classic cars including members of the 1960s-1980s fleet as a viable hobby.  Here, this could be about maintaining that look that complements the classic car’s dashboard. Similarly, it is also about vehicle builders who want to keep in touch with their moving legacy.

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Consumer Electronics Show 2015–Part 2

Previously, in Part 1, I covered the trends that are affecting personal computing which encompases laptops / notebooks, tablets including the “2-in-1” convertible or detachable units, and the smartphones.

As I continue coverage of the trends shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I am highlighting what is being highlighted when we think of the connected world and the Internet Of Things. This is where devices we have on ourselves or use in the home, or the cars we drive, connect to each other and the Internet to acquire a range of impressive capabilites.

Wearable technology

There is an increasing number of smartwatches and other wearables being launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. These are based on the Android Wear platform along with Tizen and other proprietary wearable platforms. It is although Apple has their smartwatch close to launch as part of their iOS ecosystem. A question that often came to mind is whether the smartwatch is to be seen as a bridge device between your smartphone and other wearable devices.

Sony raised the bar for Android Wear by integrating a GPS in to the metal-look variant of their Smartwatch 3 Android Wear watch. It may be seen as a way to provide standalone navigation and distance measurement for this watch or to serve as a secondary GPS sensor for your smartphone.

LG had headed towards smartwatches by putting forward one that is to run WebOS. This is part of having their devices run the descendent of the Palm operating system which HP refashioned as WebOS.

Lenovo had jumped on the wearable bandwagon by offering the Vibe lineup of wearable products. At the moment, the first of these products is the Vibe Band which is a water-resistant fitness band that uses an e-ink display, allowing for this device to run longer on a single battery charge.

There have been a few weirdly wonderful wearable devices like some snowboard bindings that help you plough through the powder better. These bindings measure the forces you apply on your feet as you slide down the slope and an app uses your smartphone’s GPS and these sensors to assess your snowboarding prowess. There is the Misfit LED which works alongside the Misfit range of activity trackers to show how you are performing. But the most weird device is the Emiota Belty which is a men’s dress belt that records your waistline and reports it back to your smartphone.

Hyundai Blue Link smartwatch app press photo courtesy of Hyundai America

Hyundai Blue Link smartwatch app – your smartwatch is your keyfob

The smartwatch is becoming part of the “connected car” ecosystem thanks to some vehicle builders. As I will mention below, BMW uses the smartwatch as a key fob that is to be part of their self-parking setup that they are working on. But Hyundai has presented the Blue Link app for the Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms so you can use this watch like the typical button-equipped car keyfob. Think of this as being to touch your watch to start your Veloster from afar, open its doors or have that coupe flash its headlights so you can locate it in the car park.

The connected car

Speaking of which, the car that links to the home network and the Internet is being given a fair bit of airtime by most of the vehicle manufacturers. This is promoted by Mercedes-Benz who were exhibiting a capsule-style self-driving concept car, Ford demonstrating their idea of a self-driving car, and other vehicle builders talking about the self-driving idea for cars.

Smartwatch control surface for car press picture courtesy of BMW America

Smartwatch as control element of BMW car

BMW took the modest path by demonstrating a self-parking variant of the i3 car. This smartwatch-controlled car looks for a parking spot by itself and implements a map-based setup where it has pre-loaded maps of car parks. This is very like a valet-parking setup but without the car-park attendant parking your car for you in that car park.

BMW self-parking car press picture courtesy of BMW America

It parks itself

Ford launched the third iteration of their Sync connected-car technology which will implement a touchscreen as part of its control surface and use of Blackberry QNX technology. This is intended to be part of what will be offered for the 2016 model-year vehicles.

Even the chipset manufacturers have dipped their finger in the connected-car scene with NVIDIA announcing that they are purposing Tegra and similar processors to power the connected-car dashboards.

Next generation VW infotainment setup press picture courtesy of VW America

Next generation VW infotainment works with Apple Play, Android Auto or MirrorLink

As for infotainment, there is a trend to support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in both factory-supply and aftermarket infotainment setups. This means that the advanced abilities of these systems can work in a system-native manner to both iPhone and Android users. The Volkswagen Group had put this forward in the latest factory-spec infotainment setups and were even involved in the level-playing-field idea of MirrorLink even when it was put forward.

Parrot have premiered the RNB6 which is a 2-DIN media unit which runs both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but has 55 watts per channel output for all of the channels along with more options. Pioneer have launched this function in to some of their newer 2-DIN car radios. These efforts satisfy realities that exist in countries like Australia where people are likely to keep their cars on the road for a very long time.

Internet Of Everything

The Internet Of Everything has become a key feature of this show with companies either showcasing new gadgets that link with the Internet or showcasing improvements for existing gadgets with this kind of ability. Most of these devices are still pitched as a “system” of devices, cloud services and apps supplied by the same vendor that are dependent on each other and there haven’t been any devices that are pitched in a manner where they can work with other manufacturers’ devices, services or apps.

There have been some devices that are targeted at your baby’s health such as a smart baby bottle holder measures food intake. Another of these is a Bluetooth-connected infant thermometer that uses your smartphone as its display with this being developed by the company that is behind Moto’s smart temporary tattoo.

Parrot has launched houseplant water monitors that link to the home network. One is the H2O which is a sensor and automated watering system that you can use in-situ with your plants and the other is the Parrot Pot to put your plant into.

D-Link DCH-S160 myDLink water sensor press picture courtesy of D-Link America

D-Link myDLink water detector alerts you via your smartphone if your washing machine leaks or the bath overflows

BeeWi and D-Link are snapping at Belkin’s WeMo home-automation technology with their own technology. The latter have packaged it in as their myDLink package which is dependent on a home-automation hub even for the Wi-Fi devices. They have Z-Wave motion sensors and door magnet/reed sensors which interlink with this hub and also work as ambient temperature sensors.

They also have a Wi-Fi-based water-leak sensor that uses a wire to sense leaking water from that dribbling washing machine along with a Wi-Fi siren unit and smart plugs. This system is managed on your mobile device through an app that D-Link supplies. TRENDNet are running a HomePlug-based home automation package that links with their TPL-406E HomePlug AV500 adaptor and the THA-102PL appliance controller with both devices using the AC wiring to communicate to each other. They also have the THA-103AC which is a Wi-Fi-managed appliance controller that works as an AC750 Wi-Fi range extender and both these systems are controlled using an app for the iOS and Android platforms.

Kwikset Kevo cylindrical deadbolt in use - Kwikset press image

Kwikset Kevo Plus extends online monitoring and control to this Kwikset Kevo smart deadbolt

Two companies that are known for the common door lock have fielded some “smart-lock” products, but they are focused around the “bore-through” cylindrical deadbolt form-factor that is common on many American front doors. Firstly, Kwikset have provided an IP bridge and online service for their Kevo smart deadbolt. Here, the Bluetooth-IP bridge and online service allows for such functions as “remote unlock” for situations like when you have a friend or relative who doesn’t have a smartphone with the Kwikset Kevo app to come to your house to do some caretaking or fetch something for you or to have a repair technician visit your house to perform some repair works on an appliance while you are at work. The service is offered as an annually-billed service. August who offer a similar Bluetooth-driven smart lock have come up this path using their own IP bridge to provide “remote check / remote release” functionality.

Yale Real Living NFC-capable smart deadbolt - outside view (brass finish) press picture courtesy of Yale America

Yale Real Living smart deadbolt – enter using the code on the keypad or touch your open-frame smartphone to it

As well, Yale have launched an NFC-based smart lock that works to the Seos NFC-based smart locking platform that ASSA Abloy, the “Electrolux” of the door-hardware industry, have established. This is one that comes in the same form factor as the Kwikset Kevo but doesn’t use a key outside as a failover method. As well, it requires you to touch your NFC-capable Android smartphone to the outside keypad to unlock your door.

Tagg are working with Alarm.com to implement a tracker system for your pets. This will be based around a collar attachment that implements GPS to locate and uses 3G as a “report-back” mechanism.

The CES tech fair has given Roost some boost with their “smart battery” for existing smoke alarms. Here, they were able to show and demonstrate this battery in action as a monitoring device for the common smoke alarm.

Appliances

Unlike the Internationaler Funkaustellung where a home-appliance trade show had been merged with this consumer-electronics trade show, there has become an increasing de-facto presence of home appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show. This has been brought on by some of the Korean and Japanese consumer-electronics manufacturers wanting to show their appliances at this trade show along with appliances, both major-class “white-goods” and countertop “small-goods” and is demonstrating that home appliances are increasingly becoming part of the “Internet Of Things”.

Dacor used this show to premiere their Android-controlled ovens which used an “app-cessory” approach to controlling these ovens. This also goes alongside the use of a touchscreen as a local control surface and is representative of what is to come about for premium “white goods”.

LG Twin Wash System press photo courtesy of LG America

LG Twin Wash System – two washing machines in one

LG have fielded some interesting “white goods” at this show. The show-stopper for them in this department was the Twin Wash “drawer-load” second washing machine which is installed underneath their recent front-load washing machines. It works in a manner where you can wash a small load while the main machine is processing another load. The example often cited was for ladies to wash a change of delicate underwear on the delicate-wash cycle while the main machine runs a lot of normal-cycle washing. Another example from my experience would be to turn around two white shirts by themselves while a large quantity of coloured clothes is being washed, with everything being ready to dry at the same time. They also fielded a “double door-in-door” fridge for easier organisation of food in the fridge. Samsung were fielding some interesting appliances like a dual-cavity oven and their “ActiveWash’ washing machine which implements an advanced wash action.

The coffee making scene closes in to the home network more with Smarter running a “bean-to-cup” espresso machine for the US market which uses Wi-Fi technology to facilitate its app-cessory control surface.

In the next part of this series, I will be looking at what the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 is representing for entertainment in the connected home.

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Pioneer aftermarket car audio to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Pioneer Europe

Press Release

My Comments

Pioneer AVIC-F77DAB car stereo press image courtesy of Pioneer

Pioneer AVIC-F77DAB car stereo that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

I have raised the reality that in a car’s life, there will be the need to support smartphone interlink technology in a vendor-neutral manner because people change phones and cars very frequently with some changing to different phone platforms.

Pioneer has answered this reality with aftermarket car infotainment systems that work with both the Apple CarPlay platform and the Android Auto platform. They even support the Mirrorlink baseline requirement for having the car stereo be a terminal for your mobile device. Some of these units are also supporting the DAB reality as more countries in Europe and Oceania implement the Eureka-based DAB and DAB+ standards.

They will be a 2-DIN form factor with a touch screen and will fit well with most vehicles on the market since the 1980s. Here, the touchscreen will be the main control surface for your phone if you tether it to the infotainment system using the USB cable. But what I like about these systems is that a person can use an iPhone or an Android phone and get the full benefit from these systems.

As well, it is also symptomatic of the trend to use the touchscreen as a preferred control and display surface for newer gadgets.

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Trends affecting the connected car

Multiple connected-infotainment platforms

Range Rover Sport

Newer vehicles are becoming part of the connected environment

Apple, Microsoft and Google have now provided their own connected-infotainment platforms such as the CarPlay and Microsoft’s Cortana. At the moment, they are placing efforts on vehicle builders or afttermarket-infotainment manufacturers to run with their own platform on an exclusive basis, whether for a particular vehicle or unit model, a range of (usually premium) models or across the range.

Typically, you would have the infotainment system able to work on its own native look or a user might press a button to bring up the platform’s user interface on the dashboard when a mobile phone that works to the partner operating system is connected.

Applications that we are seeing are always-updated maps for navigation, access to online multimedia services like Spotify or Internet radio, reporting of various statistics for diagnostics and related purposes, along with general communications and entertainment needs. It could even include a Shazam setup that works with the regular car radio to identify a song you just heard.

Catering to multiple platforms

It may be easy for premium marques like Land Rover or Ferrari and top-shelf car audio names like Alpine to work exclusively with the Apple CarPlay platform because their market base would be preferring an all-Apple computing environment as what “young rich cool kids” value.

But there is a reality where Google and Microsoft can front up with appealing yet cool in-vehicle computing platforms that work well with the Android and Windows Phone platforms which have yielded smartphones with the same street chic as the iPhone. As well, the same vehicle could be sold to and driven by a person who may own an iPhone, an Android phone or a Windows Phone 8.1 device.

What I see easily happening is that when a person orders a new vehicle, they may be required to specify what automotive-computing platform they want to run with. If you upgrade your phone to a different mobile platform, you may have to take your vehicle to the dealership to have the infotainment platform switched over to the one you are currently using on your phone.

In some cases, the driver may have to press a button similar to the “CarPlay” button on CarPlay-equipped infotainment setups to cause the system to detect which phone is connected and load the appropriate infotainment platform.

Aftermarket support

An issue that is worth raising is whether the names associated with the aftermarket car-infotainment scene will join in the party and a few like Alpine and Pioneer have. This is to satisfy situations where one may want to improve the infotainment offering that their older car has and is something that some markets like Australia will face as they have very old market-wide car fleets.

These solutions would appear in the form of a 2-DIN head unit with an integrated screen, or a single-DIN-size head unit that uses a fold-out touchscreen or communicates with an outboard touchscreen not dissimilar to a portable navigation device.

Advertising in the connected car

Another key issue that will face the connected car is in-car advertising. This is often raised as a distraction or, at worst, allowing for capitalism and consumerism to invade our lives everywhere we go.

But this has been accepted all along with radio advertising, display advertisements placed on maps and in street directories along with outdoor advertising like billboards. As well, most mobile-map platforms implement a “search for nearest” function so you can locate the nearest petrol station, take-out food outlet or restaurant.

The controversies that will come about will concern use of collecting aggregated vehicle-location data or implementation of gamification strategies for the advertisers’ benefits. Here, it could lead to advertisers implementing targeted campaigns or, in the case of controversial business types like fast-food outlets, the targeting of prospective business-premises locations.

Personally, I would see this manifest more as display ads on an app’s user interface or interactive business logos appearing on the on-screen maps relevant to where the businesses are located. These would also support “touch-to-book” or “touch-to-find-out-more” functionality. Similarly, companies could implement in-vehicle apps that work in a similar vein to the mobile apps – providing “loyal-customer” functionality, nearest venue location, menu display / selection functionality amongst other functions.

Conclusion

What I see as coming about is that the connected car is being a setup driven by mobile-computing platforms with their third-party apps and functions. It would require the implementation of multiple platforms for the one vehicle or aftermarket device to cater for multiple smartphone platforms and would face the controversial issue of advertising.

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