Highlights from the Consumer Telematics and Consumer Electronics Shows

Highlights from the Consumer Telematics and Consumer Electronics Shows

Thilo Koslowski, vice president and practice leader with Gartner, kicked off the Consumer Telematics Show (CTS) 2010 with his analysis of information and communication technology. One of the more important aspects, he observed, is connectivity that involves both the driver and the car. In the short term, users have come to expect simple routing from telematics. In the long term, Koslowski said, on board and off board energy management could be essential for electric and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).

New telematics experiences

In the Driving Connected Panel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors, noted, “The average American spends up to 1,000 hours in their car each year.” That’s about 2.5 hours per day, up 50% over the past five years. To take advantage of this time—and provide a new telematics experience for drivers—Kia teamed up with Microsoft to introduce the UVO voice-controlled infotainment system, which operates with cell phones or other consumer electronics products.

Saving time is important to commuters, too. For drivers with unpredictable congestion on alternative routes, telematics services can provide the best way to get from one place to another, thus saving precious time and avoiding frustration. With its Traffic! Pro, INRIX can provide drivers with location-based services for easing daily commutes, including information such as the best time to depart and the estimated arrival time. “This isn’t just about going out and collecting more data,” said Ken Kranseler, senior director of product development with INRIX. “It really is some science that we have put into this to understand the different traffic flows and traffic scenarios.”

Using OnStar’s EV Lab, GM was able to collect live data and track calibration levels and software versions in more than 20 modules in 86 development vehicles. Data on PHEVs gives GM the ability to look at various charging parameters and work with utility companies to determine the best time to charge the Volt PHEV, which will be introduced later this year. Nick Pudar, vice president, planning and business development with OnStar, explained the OnStar EV Lab: “This is the first time that we have integrated connectivity in the vehicle development process as early as we have.” Because of the advanced connectivity approach, Pudar said, data was collected and available “well over a year ahead.”

Reducing driver distraction

While many observers are quick to point out that telematics and infotainment products add to driver distraction, these devices are already in use as standalone products in the vehicle. Telematics can definitely reduce distraction. Using its Virtual Test Track Experiment (VIRTTEX) driving simulator, Ford engineers have quantified the time taken up by “technology-inspired distractions,” according to Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, global product development at Ford. To take just one example: by selecting a tune on an iPod using the voice activation capability of Ford’s Sync instead of the normal device process, drivers reduced distraction time from 30.3 seconds to 4.9 seconds “with their eyes never leaving the road,” Kuzak said.

According to Julius Marchwicki, Ford’s product manager, mobile application connectivity, 55% of Pandora’s 17 million mobile users and 40% of Stitcher’s on demand audio users listen in the car. The Ford software development kit (SDK) for SYNC allows developers to create applications using in-vehicle interfaces to SYNC. “Our API leverages the phone and can use a variety of transports—Bluetooth, USB and now Wi-Fi—to communicate with SYNC,” Marchwicki said. The unique Pandora and Stitcher functionality users expect is accessed by steering wheel and voice control. It took Pandora and Stitcher engineers less than 10 days to develop the applications for Sync using Ford’s SDK and application programming interface (API).

This is just a small selection of the telematics innovations on show at CTS and CES. Check out future issues of Telematics Update for more insights and analysis on the latest industry trends.

Randy Frank

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