Automotive infotainment: A tough but rewarding challenge -

Automotive infotainment: A tough but rewarding challenge


In many respects, automotive electronics is the mirror-image of what ishappening in the broader consumer and embedded electronics market – but with a vengeance.

As the recent design articles, webinars, tech papers and blogs includedin this week’s Tech Focus Newsletter on “Nextgen automotiveinfotainment design ,” illustrate, consumers are demanding that the newuser interface and entertainment features they now have on their mobile phoneand tablet devices be available in their automobiles. And the same is trueabout the new embedded wireless machine to machine (M2M) and sensor networks theyare now seeing in their homes.

But this is easier said than done, because as noted in “MISRAC 2012 takes on automotive and safety-critical software apps, ”the safety-critical nature of the auto environment places severe demandson programmers, especially as it relates to the highly efficient, but temperamental,C-language. And then there is the related issue of security, according tothe authors of “Thefuture of Android in vehicles.” They point out that developerswho want to make use of Google’s particular Linux distro in the automobileface a number of daunting, but not insurmountable, challenges. Nor, as notedbelow, do the challenges facing embedded developers end there. 

In “Usinghigh quality wireless audio in auto infotainment systems,” JonnyMcClintock points out that developers who want to bring the synchronizedaudio to video and wideband stereo capabilities they will be faced with twodemanding performance metrics: 16 bit word resolution with a sampling frequencyof 44.1 kHz for the necessary CD quality, and latency performance of under40 milliseconds and preferably close to 30 milliseconds. 

According to Peter Hall in “Dealingwith auto infotainment data-net bottlenecks,” bringing the real-timemaps and multiple screens of information and entertainment they have on theirdesktops and mobile tablets into the automotive infotainment system presentscomplex cabling, connectors, power dissipation, and signal integrity concerns- all of which are at a premium and severely constrained in the automotiveworld. 

In “Untanglingthe Challenges of the Connected Car,” Andy Gryc deals with the timelag between when a capability appears in the consumer electronics marketand then in the auto. In the personal electronics industry, he points out,it takes from 6 to 18 months to bring a product to market. But in the autoindustry, the process often takes 3 or more years. As a further complication,an in-vehicle system that connects to personal electronics must stay relevantfor at least 10 years. But how can it do that if the MP3 players of todaybecome the 8-tracks of tomorrow? 

A number of other articles relating to challenges and opportunities inthe automotive segment that I recommend as Editor’s Top Picks are:

Automotive HMI redefined
Smartphone-vehicle integration Making sense of the cacophony
Rapid development and reusable design for the connected car
Genivi and beyond – The future of in-vehicle infotainment
Advanced user interfaces take safety into account Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of thetwice-a-week Embedded.comnewsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorialservices consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call928-525-9087.

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