2010 in Review – Key Trends to Consider – Connectivity, HMI and Software Platforms

2010 in Review – Key Trends to Consider – Connectivity, HMI and Software Platforms

2010 is coming to a close as we enter the holiday season. We can recognize the key trends and look forward to and plan for 2011. Throughout the year, Autotechinsider.com has written about important developments that affect the automotive industry. We write about these trends in our newsletters, which we share with our clients and followers (see wwww.autotechinsider.com). These trends are apparent to us as we attend the key auto, consumer and wireless industry events, namely CES, CTIA, Convergence and recently SEMA each year.

What are the developments that shaped our industry in 2010? First we need to recognize a key macro trend, that the auto industry is in resurgence as characterized by a profitable Ford Motor Company and the successful GM IPO, the largest in US history, that raised $20 Billion. In October, Ford had announced the retiring of significant debt and a profitable third quarter (1.7B profit, $.43/share earnings and the sixth consecutive quarter of net profit). The recent successful GM IPO helps Michigan’s recovery as it encourages auto suppliers to visit capital markets with future stock offerings, according to a recent Crain’s Detroit Business article. Lastly, a few auto companies are actually hiring to fill critical skills. “Green shoots” are appearing.

The focus of this brief article is to highlight a few of the key developments and issues we face, as the industry recovers:
A. “Smartphone’s” are aspirational and connectivity drives electronic feature growth. The consumer desires to connect new devices to the car and download apps, in spite of the cost of “data” plans and potential distraction issues. Ford and others have announced app stores. Ford AppLink, is a downloadable software upgrade for Sync to access new Smartphone apps (e.g. Pandora internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio” and OpenBeak). The rollout of 4G will be a key subject of the 2011 CTIA and will accelerate the adoption of new devices and multimedia apps in the car. How will these new “aspirational” consumer devices, such as the iPad, be integrated into the vehicle and how will new app stores actually work?
B. The advent of the “Advanced User Interface” continued in 2010. Auto OEMs are following Ford’s lead and recognize compelling and ease to use HMIs – large LCD displays, voice control, haptic controls, etc. are important to the brand. As articulated at Convergence by Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s chief electronic technologist and Fellow, “new tools are needed to add features quickly, and the HMI is {Ford’s} DNA”. In recognition of this important trend, Telematics Update recently issued a comprehensive report on the subject, “The Automotive User Interface the Key Brand Differentiator” (see www.telematicsupdate.com/HMI)
C. Software platform wars are underway – Google Android, Microsoft, QNX, GENIVI and Nokia’s Terminal Mode are the combatants, competing for automotive adoption. Google has made headway both in smartphones (e.g. Droid) and even in cars (e.g. Continental’s AutolinQ based on Android). Hardware is no longer the source of innovation, but software. For example the auto industry is contemplating GENIVI, a Linux based standard for Infotainment. We will be monitoring developments at CES to see if GENIVI is gaining traction among the auto OEMs to the point of commitment to production programs. Note: GENIVI just added new OEM partners in Jaguar Land Rover and SAIC.
D. IntelliDrive(SM), the promise of low-cost wireless in every car for new mobility and active safety features, is now focused on the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) applications. These safety features will be integrated with existing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as ACC, and present new user interface challenges. In 2011, we can expect a renewed USDOT effort to fund and demonstrate V2V in US metropolitan areas. The Annual ITS-America meeting in Orlando next November 2011 will be a key event. It will be a larger-scale showcase of these new V2V safety features as highly-visible ride and drives. The following active safety features using V2V address problem crash scenarios, such as rear-end, lane change, intersecting or oncoming:
a. Emergency Electronic Brake Lights (EEBL)
b. Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
c. Intersection Movement Assist (IMA)
d. Blind Spot Warning & Lane Change Warning (BSW & LCW)
e. Do Not Pass Warning (DNPW)
f. Control Loss Warning (CLW).

Autotechinsider.com will continue to follow these developments. We hope to see you at CES in January and the other key events in 2011. Please visit our website to obtain free reports and to sign up for our 2011 CES and 2010 SEMA report offer.

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