QNX unveiled its CAR Application Platform that uses mobile phones to integrate the latest technology and applications with a vehicle's infotainment system. The Canadian company's platform goes beyond Bluetooth audio streaming and uses Nokia Terminal Mode and Apple iPod Out to connect smartphones with the vehicle's multimedia head unit, opening the door to adding e-mail, social networking, music, navigation, and other applications, such as parking spot finders, to in-dash screens.
The integration strategy will enable users to eliminate the learning curve for mastering a new audio system. QNX will also be able to add new functionality quickly without hardware or software upgrades. The downside is that the available features depend on the phone and apps you use.
Based on QNX's promotional videos, it appears non-iPhone users will get the most robust functionality. QNX uses the VPN protocol to connect Terminal Mode-equipped smartphones with the vehicles' multimedia head unit, replicating the device's interface on the navigation screen. The car occupants can use the audio and steering-wheel controls or touch-screen to interact with the phone, and QNX will disable certain features it deems unsafe while driving. Unfortunately, iPod Out doesn't offer the type of data integration available on Terminal Mode-equipped phones.
Terminal Mode was developed by Nokia and Consumer Electronics for Automotive (CE4A), an association of which BMW, Audi, Daimler, and Volkswagen are members. QNX, formerly a subsidiary of Harman International, was purchased by Research In Motion last April. BMW offers Harman Kardon branded audio systems in its product line, and has already expressed intent to use QNX's platform to and read .
QNX unveiled the new platform at the Society of Automotive Engineers Convergence 2010 conference last week in a modified Chevrolet Corvette, which also demoed QNX's dynamically reconfigurable digital instrument cluster. The feature offers two different displays: driving mode, which shows the tachometer and speedometer, or information mode, which shows weather, navigation, or entertainment information.
QNX's technology should reduce carmakers' electronics engineering efforts to incorporate the latest technologies in their vehicles. BlackBerry and Symbian are the only smartphones equipped with Terminal Mode at this time. However, CE4A's 2009 Annual Report announced integration discussions with LG, TomTom, Google (Android), and Navigon.
The following promotional videos show how Terminal Mode and iPod Out could work in cars: