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ST: Cars find place in grand scheme of IoT

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Cars? sensors? processors? Internet of Everything?

Infotainment & telematics

Getting lost is one of the most frustrating driving experiences ever and the proliferation of navigation systems has reduced the frequency of it happening. While GPS is an established technology in car navigation, the capability to receive signals from multiple satellite systems (Galileo, Glonass, Beidou), to collect information from a number of different sensors in the vehicle's network (speed, acceleration, wheel angle), and to utilise that information will improve accuracy and response time in determining vehicle position and expand the utility of this function beyond basic navigation into safety-related applications.

Most of us utilise connected technologies, enabled mostly by our smartphones or tablets, in our daily life. The information that is streamed to us, the music we listen to, the communication channels we have established or our social media networks that have become a significant part of us. We interact fluidly with these throughout the day. When we get into our cars for an hour or two, the interaction should continue in the same fluid manner. We would not want to adjust to a whole new set of connected characteristics while we are in the car.

Hence the ability to "handover" the personal connectivity of a smartphone or tablet to the car to mimic the same feel and user interface is an important goal. Players who control the main operating systems for smartphones and tablets are forming alliances and shaping standards to accelerate the seamless pairing of the smartphone to the car and create a single connected experience.

While familiarity is preferred, the attention-demanding requirements of driving will require that certain user interfaces be redesigned. The driver's focus cannot be taken away from the road and too many activation controls via finger presses and swipes would be risky. Applications that demand visual attention will have to be curbed on the car platform. As a result the ideal user interface will be both hands- and eyes-free. Voice-activated commands will play an increasingly bigger role inside the car.

Just like the smartphone platform, the car platform will also face issues related to business model ownership, even more in areas that are very car specific and not yet tested and standardised via the more mature smartphone platform. Car makers and traditional stakeholders will face new players entering the market bringing new and disruptive models for the automotive industry of today. Content providers, service and software platform providers, consumer appliances makers, and telecommunication network providers will mix together (in the car!) creating a new era for the automotive industry.

A confluence of diverse but complementary technologies

Just like the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Cars is a huge complicated beast in need of an organisation to define its key standards and functionalities. It will eventually find its own equilibrium based on technologies that give it function, value, and practicality.

Technology players like STMicroelectronics who want to make a difference in the Internet of Cars will need to offer the technology building blocks that make up the many different parts of the car as well as the expertise to make them work seamlessly together. They also need to recognise that they can't operate in a vacuum and need to build a technology ecosystem with other players.

The key technology building blocks within the Internet of Everything are positioning devices, processors as the brain, low-power connectivity for data transfer, and sensors, as well as various analogue and digital interfaces to complete the product design. These are technologies which ST has already built into a strong portfolio.

About the author

Edoardo Merli
Marketing & Application Director, Automotive Product Group,

Greater China and South Asia Region

Edoardo Merli joined STMicroelectronics in February 1998 as Head of System Architecture in the Telecom Wireline Division. In 2002, he formed and led the WLAN Business Unit making ST the market leader in Wi-Fi solutions for cellular phones and mobile devices. Merli was appointed Director of the Automotive Product Group in 2007, where he took responsibility for the RF Competence Centre & Connectivity Business Unit and subsequently for the Car Radio Business Unit. Merli earned his degree in Electronic Engineering from University of Bologna in 1989.

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