Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Projected Mode might be taken by storm if NVIDIA has its way with its Tegra K1 chip. All-touch dashboards might become the norm, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that most drivers have nothing against that.
The Tegra chip can already be found in Tesla’s Model S infotainment system, as well as in the new Audi A3, but NVIDIA wants more than that. Tesla’s Model S dashboard still looks nothing less than spectacular, but in the end, what stands in the center of the infotainment system is nothing more than a vertical 17″ touchscreen display. To give drivers a feeling of uniqueness, dashboards need to have more spectacular shapes and functions, and that is exactly what NVIDIA achieved with JEEP at GTC 2014.
David Anderson, Senior Automotive Solutions Architect of NVIDIA’s Automotive Business Unit, admitted that the demo JEEP, or his “pet project,” as he likes to address it, takes some inspiration of Tesla’s electric vehicle, while not copying it. Anderson explained SlashGear that “Tesla’s all-touch approach is the direction we think dashboards will go.” After all, the only button on Model S’ dashboard is used for opening the glove compartment.
In JEEP’s case, the main display has a custom inverted teardrop shape, and it dominates a 3D printed dashboard. The second Tegra chip is used for powering the display located in front of the wheel. The car’s capacitive touchscreen is divided into three sections that all display different, yet relevant information. Navigation takes up the upper third of the screen, while the media carousel is found in the middle. Both of these can be customized to display information in a manner that suits the driver’s needs and taste. The HVAC section dominates the bottom of the screen. This is where the driver or the passenger sitting at his right can change the air conditioning or heating settings.
Personally, I believe it’s a good thing that NVIDIA decided to take the matter in its own hands, with a firm believe that it can do better than Apple or Google. Regardless of what infotainment system future cars will include, it’s great to see that there are a few options to choose from. Also, competition will determine car infotainment manufacturers to strive for progress, which is good for anyone wanting to buy a vehicle.
The race to claim the "best infotainment system in a luxury ride" title is, we'd say, still pretty wide open, however that's not to say we haven't seen our fair share of neat ones in the recent past. Still, it's worth noting that Texas Instruments and Audi have announced a partnership which will see the chipset maker's new Jacinto 5 processor command the German outfit's next-generation, QNX-powered infotainment system, more formally known as MIB High. For Audi, this means taking a slightly different route, as it had previously utilized the likes of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 on its platform, but it also doesn't surprise us given TI's promise of "stunning digital audio" and "feature-rich vehicle interfaces" thanks to its "multimedia applications unit and a highly integrated radio and car control unit."
Cars wired with ethernet may conjure thoughts of roving internet hotspots, but that's not what Hyundai and Broadcom have in mind in this case. Traditionally, infotainment consoles, safety systems and the like are built on multiple in-car networks, but the duo will rig vehicles with modified ethernet cables to unify some of the disparate systems on a single network. Dubbed BroadR-Reach, the tech uses a single pair of unshielded wires to offer 100Mbps connection speeds and could scale up to 1Gbps. Though Hyundai and other automakers joined with Broadcom's standards group for the technology last year, the firm is now the second car manufacturer to pledge that its autos will get the tech. As of now, there's still no word on which models will be lined with ethernet or when they'll roll off assembly lines.
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We first laid eyes on Parrot's first Android-based Asteroid car infotainment system a couple years ago at CES. Then, at this past year's show, we got a sneak peek at a trio of successor Asteroid devices. Now, a mere 10 months later, the Asteroid Smart, Tablet and Mini have finally arrived in consumer-ready garb. First, there's a flagship in-dash system, the double-DIN Asteroid Smart. It features a 6.2-inch 800 x 480 capacitive display, a Texas Instruments 800MHz processor and runs a heavily skinned version of Android 2.3. The Smart also has four USB 2.0 ports (one which pushes 5V to charge an iPod) for connecting external devices like the included GPS antenna or a dongle for cellular data. Plus, there are 3.5mm line-in and microphone jacks to go with a host of RCA connections and a micro-USB port round the back. Bluetooth 3.0 is baked in, and an SD card slot sits behind the detachable security strip to the left of the screen.
The Smart's siblings, the Asteroid Mini and Asteroid Tablet are also coming to North America this month. The Tablet packs similar specs as the Smart, only it's got a 5-inch capacitive screen and is portable, as opposed to an in-dash solution. It runs the same skinned version of Gingerbread, has GPS and Bluetooth radios, and packs 512MB of RAM and 1GB of on-board storage, plus an SD slot. It also comes with a wireless touchpad remote so you can control the system straight from your steering wheel. Meanwhile, the Mini, with its 3.2-inch, non-touch screen has a similar form factor to the Tablet and comes with a wireless remote as well. However, its OS is built on Android 1.5 and it relies upon an external GPS antenna like its bigger, double-DIN cousin. The Asteroid Tablet will retail for $399, and the Mini will cost a hundred bucks less when they go on sale in a few weeks.
We got to swipe our way around the Parrot Smart, so join us after the break to see it in action.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Shenzhen-based Innotrends has been pushing infotainment systems for a while now, and though standalone solutions like the Ca-Fi seem rather clunky when you can buy a Focus with Sync baked in, not everyone can count a flashy new "connected" model as their set of wheels. Today the company announced the latest version of its Android-powered infotainment system. The new Ca-Fi 621000 Universal runs Android Gingerbread and packs a 1GHz CPU with 512MB of RAM. It also sports a capacitive touchscreen rather than the resistive display of versions past, and there's an OBD2-USB cable, plus the pre-loaded Torque app for keeping tabs on your vehicle's health. If sprucing up your sedan is more in line with your budget than the 2013 BMW 7 Series with iDrive Touch and 3D maps, you can nab the Ca-Fi 621000 for $999 starting at the end of August -- just make sure your car has the requisite double-DIN slot first.
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Hot on the heels of the news it'll be the first auto company to sport Nuance's Dragon Drive! on some of its fancy rides, BMW's now announced a handful of improvements and additions to its elegant ConnectedDrive infotainment system. For starters, the German outfit's bringing an all-new feature dubbed iDrive Touch (available in China this month, elsewhere at some point next year), giving drivers the ability to use a multitouch pad for easier overall navigating throughout the console, do some numbers / text inputting and use pinch-to-zoom capabilities while using the maps application. Speaking of which, BMW is also introducing "3D City Models," this will essentially give folks behind the wheel a "realistic depiction" of streets and buildings around their location area -- however, it's worth mentioning these tidbits will only be useful in "select locations." What's more, BMW's said the new enhancements are getting a speed boost thanks to LTE integration, but that'll have to wait until November of this year. If you're interested in learning more, feel free to give the PR below a quick read.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Navigating those mean Manhattan streets is an intimidating chore for any driver, with or without a battery of high-tech in-car aides. But after an introduction to Cadillac CUE, it's easy to see the benefit of such a comprehensive system. CUE isn't your typical in-dash GPS nav -- sure it can get you on your way just as well as any other navigation system, but a bounty of sensors and displays allow you to keep your eyes on the road and avoid collisions, while also providing the smartphone integration and media playback support you'd expect from a high-end 2012 automobile. The base system, included standard with 2012 and 2013 XTS and SRX models and available as an option with the ATS, is centered around an 8-inch, 800 x 400 capacitive touch LCD with anti-scratch, anti-glare and oleophobic coatings to keep the display in tip-top shape and completely viewable from both the driver and passenger seats.
The display flips open to reveal a lit storage compartment with a USB port for connecting and charging your smartphone, while capacitive-touch buttons below the panel provide haptic feedback and a variety of control options (you can tap or slide your finger across to adjust volume, for example). Add-ons include a 12.3-inch, 1280 x 480 "instrument cluster" that provides speed and fuel information in a familiar readout, along with directions, phone call info and music selection. Also available is a slick heads-up display, which features a more subdued color pallet (compared to the vibrant LCDs) and outputs key info, including speed limits and collision warnings, while also minimizing ghosting thanks to a wedge-shaped windshield, which thins as you move from top to bottom. Two more USB ports in the center console let you sync up and charge two additional devices, while an AUX input enables older devices to pipe out tunes.
Now, much of this may seem familiar -- we took a peek at CUE at last year's CTIA -- but this is the first time that we've actually had a chance to take the tech for a spin in a drivable 2013 Cadillac XTS, and New York City seems like the perfect venue for pushing the system to its limits. Inputting a destination is as simple as typing an address into Google Maps (though CUE uses a proprietary maps app based on NAVTEQ's database). As we drove from our office near Union Square to the Financial District, the car let us know when we were cutting things a bit too close, as seat vibrations alerted us to obstacles on either side. All the while, adjusting music and climate was simple as can be, and HUD-based directions gave us little excuse to look away from the busy road. After arriving at our destination, we slid on over to the passenger seat to film the action while an expert drove. If a new Caddy is in your future, you should be able to pick up a CUE-equipped car within the next few weeks. For now, you can jump past the break for a front-seat look as we cruise on through the 212.
Gallery: Cadillac XTS with CUE hands-on
Since its debut in 2007, Ford and Microsoft's Sync infotainment system has made its way into several of the auto maker's models, including the 2012 Focus Electric. At this week's Future in Review tech conference, Ford announced that more than 4 million vehicles in the US have its entertainment platform on board. In addition to dropping that stat, the company talked up its new EV, which it says can charge in half the time it takes for the Nissan Leaf. Maybe Ford caught wind of Nissan's just-announced e-NV200 all-electric van and wanted to remind those in the market for an EV that a blue box isn't the only option.Permalink | | Email this | Comments