A Jeep Wrangler owned by QNX Software Systems let the world know, via its Facebook page, that it was playing Iggy Pop's "Passenger" on its stereo. Beyond demonstrating its good taste in music, this Jeep was showing off the capabilities of QNX's Car 2 application platform for the attendees of the Telematics Update show in Detroit this week.
Unless you work with embedded systems, you probably have not heard of QNX, but if your car has iPod integration it is likely QNX software enables that feature. Although QNX can provide piecemeal solutions for automotive systems, the company is pushing its new Car 2 application platform as a completely integrated software stack on which automakers can build a very wide variety of features.
As implemented in the Jeep, it shows the ability to run a virtual instrument cluster, infotainment features, and deep integration with the car's driving systems, such as brakes and engine. The platform supports apps, too, extending the feature set to third-party developers.
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QNX used an LCD for the instrument cluster in the Jeep and a touch screen for the center head unit. The touch screen shows controls typically found in cars, such as a radio tuner. The feature set is extended greatly through a collection of apps. QNX installed Telenav's Scout, giving the Jeep navigation, Pandora and Slacker for extra audio sources, and BestParking to aid in finding parking spaces.
Facebook integration makes for one of the showier features in the car. With this app, the car can post the current track playing on its stereo, and should also be able to use its navigation system to give its location or destination. BMW has implemented similar Facebook integration in its production cars through its BMW Connected app.
The LCD instrument cluster presents another range of possibilities. An automaker implementing the system could give drivers a number of gauge configurations and aesthetic themes. The LCD could also turn into a camera display to aid parking. These types of instrument clusters are slowly trickling out into the market, most recently with the new.
One area where QNX pushes the bleeding edge with its Car 2 application platform is with HTML5. Using this standard for interface elements will make it much easier for software engineers to develop next-generation infotainment in cars. And these same software engineers will find it easier to carry their skills from one company to another.
QNX has built a series of cars to demonstrate its software expertise, showing automakers the possibilities inherent in its platform. However, given the sometimes glacial pace of automotive development, don't expect to see all the features shown in this Jeep Wrangler at a dealership any time soon.