Q&A: Telematics standardization in a global market

Q&A: Telematics standardization in a global market

As technical lead for the next generation of infotainment systems at Jaguar Land Rover and the vice president of the GENIVI Alliance, Matt Jones is working to open infotainment standards to allow advanced telematics features. Joining Jaguar Land Rover in 2002 after a career in professional audio, he led the deployment of rear-seat entertainment and television across the range of vehicles.

As a chartered electrical and mechanical engineer, Jones has the chops to manage the company's system architecture teams and offshore development centers. TU asked him how Jaguar Land Rover works to address the requirements of customers around the world and whether GENIVI can really enable the level of customization they require.

What is the biggest issue facing the industry this year?

There are multiple challenges for the industry at the moment. First is keeping on top of the legal aspects. What do we need to have in the vehicle to satisfy the upcoming legal requirements of countries like Brazil, Russia and Europe?

To complicate that, customer expectations are being formed rapidly around the smartphone environment. Your expectations for the car will be based on what you can do with your phone today. (For more on emerging telematics markets like Brazil and Russia, see Special report: Telematics and emerging markets; for more on smartphones, see Special report: Telematics and apps.)

For an OEM,putting software into a vehicle takes us far, far longer than it does for a smartphone manufacturer. We need to be able to accelerate software maturity and get features into market more quickly than we do today.

To do this, we need a certain amount of standardization within the automotive engineering domain when it comes to the applications environment. (For more on standardization, see Telematics and app development: The advantages of open innovation, How to avoid an in-car format war and Telematics and EVs: The need for common standards.)

How can OEMs best enable an applications environment that appeals to developers, enables them to be creative, and makes it commercially worthwhile to develop applications for the platforms?

Speaking on behalf of Jaguar Land Rover, very few automotive OEMs are big enough to have their own applications environments only for themselves. In my and GENIVI's opinions, long-term, we will have standardization in order to let people get their applications to market. (For more on GENIVI, see Will GENIVI speed up telematics development? and Telematics and GENIVI: Creating more opportunity.)

Will GENIVI provide enough standardization, high enough on the software stack, to do that?

GENIVI is looking to standardize the pre-competitive elements, so that OEMs can lead differentiation with the human-machine interface of their systems.

So a Jaguar infotainment system will look and feel different from a BMW's. You would not expect a Jaguar to look like a BMW from the outside, and it's the same with the infotainment system. GENIVI doesn’t today provide enough standardization; it's the ambition to do that. (For more on human-machine interfaces, see Special report: Telematics and the human-machine interface; for exclusive business analysis and insight on HMIs, download TU’s Human Machine Interface Report 2012 Edition.)

When might we see that?

That's a hard question. It depends on how many people partake, share in the vision, and participate to make it happen. I would personally like to see it in the next two years.

What challenges lie further out?

We've got the rise of HTML5 and the connected-car features. How does your digital living experience interact with your car? And how does that interact with your office and your house when you return home?

We have challenges in meeting customer expectations in an ever-changing mobile environment where signals come and go, and you have a multitude of possible ways of getting onto the Internet. There is a lot of connectivity management required for that.

And that's just for one market. Jaguar Land Rover sells into 174 countries worldwide. How do we meet customer expectations in emerging markets like Russia, China or Brazil, which are all very important for the growing economy? (For more on connected cars, see Telematics and the hybrid approach to content delivery and Customizing global telematics HMIs for local markets.)

Are customer expectations more globalized, or are there regional differences?

In countries with a European heritage, such as Brazil, requirements are very similar to the U.S.; in India, requirements are very similar to those in the U.K. or the U.S. or Western Europe. With Russia, they have some slightly unique use cases but are mostly similar.

In South Korea and Japan, they want quite different things, and the way you interact needs to change due to the different character sets.

China is a very different place when you're developing vehicles and in terms of customer expectations. From a Western country perspective, it's very hard to meet that with a common solution. There is a need for more thought when it comes to having common software lines of code with different user experiences for markets around the globe.

GENIVI will enable automakers to customize the experience by market where use cases are similar. But if you design vehicles in Detroit, understanding the requirements for a 28-year-old, self-made millionaire in Beijing with a different character set and different life experiences based on very different media, it's a challenge to engineer that system. (For more on telematics in Asia, see Telematics in Southeast Asia, part I, Telematics in Southeast Asia, part II, Telematics in India and Emerging telematics opportunities in China.)

What do you find most exciting about your job?

Being able to talk to people about their vision for how technology will end up in few years' time.

Susan Kuchinskas is a regular contributor to TU.

For more on telematics and apps, Matt Jones will be speaking at the Apps World conference on Oct. 2-3 in London.

For all the latest telematics trends in LATAM, check out Telematics Brazil & LATAM 2012 on Sept. 12-13 in Sao Paulo.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics USA 2012 in September in Chicago, Telematics Japan 2012 in October in Tokyo, Telematics Munich 2012 on October 29-30, and Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2012 on Dec. 4-5 in San Diego.

For exclusive business analysis and insight on HMIs, download TU’s Human Machine Interface Report 2012 Edition.

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