As cars designers strive to present drivers and passengers information and entertainment systems that fully integrate consumers' digital lifestyle, it becomes more important to use a multimedia networking backbone. The network should not only combine the long lifecycle, reliability and tough environmental requirements of the automotive world, but it should also consider the rapidly changing interfaces of the consumer world.
Such a backbone must efficiently move audio, video, and other content around the vehicle while remaining cost effective and highly reliable. Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) is one standard for high-bandwidth networking used by the many of the world's auto makers to implement this function. Through the auspices of the MOST Cooperation (MOSTCO), 16 auto makers have come together with 73 suppliers to develop this networking technology. Three quarters of these car makers already use MOST in their vehicles.
The first implementations came out of Europe, but now Toyota (with its Japan market Mark X ZiO model) and Hyundai/Kia (with its Hyundai Genesis and Kia Mohave models) have introduced the technology into the Asian market. The early implementers have also expanded the use of this technology throughout their product portfolios.
MOSTCO is currently working with the consumer electronics (CE) industry to make it easier to connect CE devices to cars. Efforts are also underway with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to bring the CE and automotive worlds together. Many OEM suppliers are also working on this front with their aftermarket divisions that can also benefit from using MOST.
MOSTCO, true to its name, has created an environment in which current implementers are jointly enhancing the standard. The “plumbing” needed to route A/V signals around the car is not a differentiator; by using a common standard, developers can take advantage of economies of scale and reduce development expenses. MOST technology affords the automotive industry the control they need over the systems they implement instead of having to rely on rapidly changing consumer technologies.
Building on the success European and Asian car manufacturers have had with MOST technology, US car makers are now considering it for their vehicles. They'll be able to take advantage of the experience of suppliers and other carmakers to develop similar feature-rich, fully digital information and entertainment systems.
In this decision process, they're also considering whether to use a digital backbone or to keep legacy analog audio and video connections along with CAN-based control. Furthermore, they are evaluating the savings that can be achieved by using a single interconnection to move all audio, video, and control information around the vehicle instead of having multiple analog wires to transport, for example, 5.1 surround sound, multiple video streams, and the required control data from the front to the back of the car.
In my opinion, MOST is the de-facto standard for high-bandwidth networking in cars, and it's the only technology in widespread automotive use that enables the seamless integration of audio, video, data, and control functions over one physical interconnection.
Henry Muyshondt is a senior director of business development for the Automotive Infotainment Systems Group of SMSC. Contact Muyshondt at .