Visteon makes the connected car a reality

Visteon shows off new infotainment packages for cars connected to the Internet.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
2 min read

Pandora screen
Pandora is one app that Visteon's new connected infotainment systems makes accessible. Visteon

LAS VEGAS--OEM automotive supplier Visteon, the power behind many carmakers' dashboard infotainment systems, demonstrated the next generation of audio and information services that will become available to drivers. The demonstration head units on display showed off connected applications that will change the way we drive.

Visteon showed off head units using a GENIVI alliance Linux-based operating system, a Flash-based interface, and one based on the Microsoft embedded operating system. Each demonstration showed what automakers could use in future models.

Google maps screen
Visteon's Google maps implementation shows traffic cameras. Visteon

The GENIVI alliance, of which Visteon is a part, aims to provide a standard Linux automotive infotainment platform, so developers can easily build for multiple cars. Visteon showed off a GENIVI system running off an Intel ARM processor, and powering four different LCDs, an instrument cluster, navigation, and two rear seat monitors, simultaneously.

As you would expect, the Flash-based system featured a heavily animated interface, with buttons that opened up different applications on the screen. The interface used widgets, so, for example, a weather forecast window could sit next to a climate control window.

Fitting the theme of CES, Visteon's GENIVI platform ran Pandora, letting users listen to their favorite Pandora stations through a 4G connection. The interface included full Pandora functionality, including the ability to give songs a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Another music app used Gracenote to identify songs playing on the radio. If you are listening to a radio station and want to know what song is playing, pushing the Gracenote button sends a 6-second clip of it to Gracenote through the car's Internet connection. Gracenote analyzes it, figures out the artist and track name, then sends it back to the car.

Visteon also displayed a novel traffic application based on Google maps. Traffic camera locations shown on the map are touchable, and bring up the traffic camera image in small a window. This feature lets you see the actual traffic conditions, instead of relying on what might be erroneous information from the local traffic reporting authority.