Integrating Cell Phone Technology and Telematics

Integrating Cell Phone Technology and Telematics

Cell phones are brought into the vehicle environment to provide both infotainment and connectivity. Cars like the Ford SYNC and Kia Motors’ UVO have made cell phone use much safer and easier through voice-activated, hands-free technology. The changes required for safe and convenient in-car cell phone connectivity were a reoccurring theme at the recent Consumer Telematics (CTS) and Consumer Electronics (CES) Shows.

At the CES Driving Connected Panel, Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile noted, “The rules of smartphones, the rules of the wireless industry, don’t apply to the vehicle industry.” As a result, companies have to think differently about connecting the car and delivering services.

In the smartphone panel at the CTS, Jorg Brakensiek, principle member of Nokia’s Research Center, observed another major difference: “A smart phone is designed to capture your attention, your full attention. It’s completely the opposite of what you have to use on the car phone.”

Reducing distraction

Navigating with touch screens and rotating displays are distractions—potentially dangerous ones—in the vehicle. The need to reduce distraction will continue to drive improvements in voice recognition, wheel-based driver controls and display technology. For more on how telematics can improve safety, see How Telematics Can Help Prevent Driver Distraction. []

According to Egil Juliussen, principal analyst with iSuppli, cellular carriers Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Jasper Wireless have established relationships with several clients for smart phones, connected portable navigation devices (PNDs), telematics and cellular Wi-Fi router connectivity. For telematics, GM’s OnStar, Mercedes Benz and Toyota already rely on Verizon for cellular service. Verizon also provides the service for the embedded cellular Wi-Fi router for Chrysler, Cadillac and VW, while aftermarket suppliers use Sprint.

Ford’s ‘brought in’ philosophy

Ford expanded its ‘brought in’ philosophy by announcing that its next generation SYNC will allow Wi-Fi access using the driver’s or passenger’s own cell phones in order to avoid the added service cost of an embedded cell phone. Juliussen predicts that cellular to Wi-Fi routers will progress from selective to prevalent deployment within the next 10 years in the US and Western Europe, while embedded cellular will progress from prevalent to standard within the same timeframe.

Jasper Wireless is specifically a software-as-a-service provider for machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular connectivity. A different approach is required for M2M connectivity because of the volume a machine can send compared to single user, according to Dan Martensson, CMO of Telenor Connexion. He warns, however, that as few as 400 units communicating improperly on a network are sufficient to cause a breakdown. “We cannot use what we have for the handset business going into the telematics business,” he says. Martensson sees a high potential for LTE 4G technology, though, because of its 100 Mbps throughput.

Electric vehicles

Nick Pudar, vice president planning and business development for OnStar, feels OnStar has developed a mobile app that will give Chevy Volt buyers more control of charging their plug-in electric vehicles. The cell phone could become a key resource in providing tips on charging opportunities as well as traffic info and other data. As Francis Dance, manager of telematics business development for BMW, noted at the CTS, “In an EV, a charging station is your buddy.” For more on the convergence of telematics and EVs, see How Telematics Will Drive the Uptake of Electric Vehicles. []

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *