Different issues confronting European versus U.S. telematics systems

Different issues confronting European versus U.S. telematics systems

1. Connectivity through smartphones to the vehicle

2. Open access to telematics providers from vehicle OEMs

3. Avoiding/preventing driver distraction

4. Identifying the successful telematics applications

5. Zeroing in on a bi-directional mobile communication medium for wide area coverage

This turned out to be a U.S. perspective with European input suggesting quite different issues.

The Smartphone Connectivity Issue

Smartphone connectivity actually is a rather complex issue with many aspects. One is the human machine interface (HMI). The touch screen on smartphones provides a great interface for non-driving situations.

“The question is, how do you manage and run a complicated device like an iPhone in your car safely,” says Mark Fitzgerald, research analyst at Strategy Analytics. “Voice would be perfect but depending on who you talk to, is voice ready for prime time or not,” he continues. “It’s better every year but I don’t think it’s a perfect HMI solution just yet.”

Fitzgerald points out that the same argument occurs with navigation systems. For portable navigation systems and smartphone navigation to capture the market from embedded systems, an improved HMI is required.

Myles Kitchen, Automotive Electronics Consultant/Analyst, M.H. Kitchen & Associates rated this issue lower in his top 5 but has a similar concern for an improved HMI. “Finding ways to enable telematics to reduce distracted driver issues using higher order voice user interfaces for commands and eliminate distracting touch screen display user interfaces needs to incorporate proven technology,” says Kitchen. Those companies working on improved voice controls would appear to be on the right track according to these experts.

This was just one concern of the initial respondents regarding connectivity and smartphones. According to Brian Droessler, Director of Strategy and Portfolio for Continental AG’s Infotainment and Connectivity Business Unit, how smartphones connect is important to a telematics system’s acceptance. Continental supplies hardware for both GM’s OnStar and Ford’s Sync systems.

“Continental is developing AutoLinQ, a system that will enable drivers and passengers to personalize their car by safely downloading information and content from the web to the dash,” says Droessler.“The concept is similar to the way consumers download applications to their mobile phones today.” Continental's platform is based on Google Android. Forecasts from industry analyst firm Gartner Group, show that Google Android is expected to increase its share of the smartphone market to about 14% by 2012 from 2% today. This suggests a growing acceptance for Google Android based connectivity in vehicles.

With more input (see the request at the end), other smartphone connectivity issues could also be revealed.

The European Perspective

Europeans seem to have much different concerns for telematics. Alan Williams, Director/Consultant (UK office) and Giovanni Balli, Director/Consultant (Brussels office) AutoGlobal Business Network Ltd, an Automotive/ITS R&D Consultancy, and their associateNick Clare, a consultantwith recent UK Telematics put their heads together and came up with the top five issues for telematics from the European perspective:

1. Customer acceptance

2. Data security

3. Liability for system failure

4. Costs of introducing the infrastructure and back office payments

5. Consistent technologies and systems across the EU

Regarding the first issue, Williams says, “People still do not understand a lot of the technology including the benefits and issues. It’s the Big Brother issue of people resisting being controlled; a good example is Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) and Road User Charging.”

While this seems quite a bit different than U.S issues, an in-depth survey of potential U.S. users could uncover a similar concern. Certainly, system designers and carmakers have to make the telematics systems user friendly from both a customer acceptance standpoint as well as from an easy to use, safe interfacing perspective.

Do you agree with these top issues? If not, send an email to me at r.frank@ieee.org and tell me what you think.

Click here to read the first installment (in case you missed it last week.)

Randy Frank is a contributing editor at Telematics Update. Click here to let us know your thoughts on the above exclusive report, as we would like to continue this trend in order to give our readers high-level and engaging content.


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