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Ups and downs in telematics

Posted: 16 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:telematics? convergence? telecommunication?

Telematics, as its definition shows, has been the epitome of convergence for many years. Its commonly defined as the combination of applied telecommunications technology with computers to control electric, electronic and mechanical functions.

Both telecommunications and computing are apparently reaching maturity, and convergence between telecom and computing has now become a reality. So as the notion of convergence finally takes hold and the automotive industry braces for multimedia capabilities, will telematics finally move beyond the state of a nascent market?

Back in the late 1980s, in the go-go days of ISDN, telematics was mostly identified with wireline communications. That was followed by the promise of new market slogans like in-car communications and automotive multimedia.

Telematics, on the heels of a string of industry failures such as Wingcast, a venture formed by Ford and Qualcomm, then resorted to a more measured approach of siding with winners in the wireless, GPS and digital consumer arenas.

Although we havent reached the telematics nirvana yet, we see more votes of confidence these days. For example, Navteq, a provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation, and Sirius Satellite Radio recently announced a plan to broadcast traffic data across the United States beginning this month. The service will provide traffic information for 22 major U.S. metropolitan areas.

Navteq is also working with RTOS firm Green Hills Software to offer integrated solutions for telematics and infotainment systems.

In another development, in a bid to expand audio capabilities in the automotive market, Hondas Acura division has unveiled the Acura Music Link iPod(R) adaptor, which allows seamless integration between iPod and Acura audio systems. The new accessory enables drivers to listen to their iPod in digital sound directly through the audio system.

Metaphorically speaking, telematics has been a long, slow river, having gone through both the hype curve and the telematics is dead prognosis. During the heady days of overpromising, for instance, they used to call it Internet on wheels.

After all these marketing games, however, telematics is still here with its potentially large footprint on automotive electronics. And its gaining traction in areas like premium audio and navigation.

- Majeed Ahmad

Electronic Engineering Times- Asia

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