Weekly Brief: Infotainment on your eyeball

Weekly Brief: Infotainment on your eyeball

In this week’s Brief: Nissan, Google, Garmin, TomTom, IBM, Apple, Tesla, Telematics Update, Telematics Munich 2013, Luxoft, Telit Wireless Solutions, Toyota and U.S. Congress.

Using head-up displays to project information in the driver’s field of vision is one potential answer to the infotainment distraction debate. Another? Head-up displays that project right in front of the driver’s eyeball. Last week, Nissan announced 3E, a “glasses-type” wearable device that can be connected to the Internet in real time and that allows drivers to display relevant information, like navigation instructions or points of interest.

Controversy already surrounds Google Glass, Google’s solution that plants smartphone-like connectivity on a tiny piece of eyewear, and whether it will be allowed on the road. Lawmakers so far have leaned toward a no. How Nissan 3E might distinguish itself is unclear. The Japanese car maker plans to unveil the solution at the Tokyo Motor Show this Friday, Nov. 22. Until then, all we have is a two-sentence press release short on details and a bizarre birthing video, which already has more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

In other news, Garmin launched Gemini, a new navigation core that allows automakers to fully customize the navigation feature set, as well as the look and feel of the user interfrace. Gemini features advanced 3D graphics for better orientation, and it allows drivers to integrate automatic over-the-air (OTA) map and software updates, a big value-add for automakers.

In Brazil, TomTom launched its real-time traffic information service, TomTom Traffic. According to TomTom’s Traffic Index, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo top rankings for the most congested cities in the Americas, a result of a 119% increase in car ownership over the last decade. The service includes congestion forecasting, which indicates whether a jam is likely to grow or start dispersing, and it also estimates how long the delays will last.

In Kenya, IBM introduced an alternative to Google Maps’ traffic feature, a mobile app called Twende Twende, which translates as “Let’s go” in Swahili. The app uses image recognition algorithms to process traffic camera feeds and a separate algorithm to predict traffic on streets not covered by traffic cameras. Users can get recommendations via SMS or on a map interface.

In the United States, Apple received an intriguing open letter from an analyst at a German investment bank. Calling on the tech giant to buy the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing pioneer Tesla, the letter – written by Berenberg analyst Adnaan Ahmad – makes the argument that the connected car provides opportunities for revenue growth that smartphones and other mobile devices can’t sustain over the long haul. Apple, as an industry disrupter, could also expedite the transition to EVs, the letter claims. Apple is yet to reply and, given the success rate of most open letters, likely never will.

At Telematics Update’s Telematics Munich 2013 event, Luxoft unveiled AllView, a reference platform that seamlessly integrates multiple screens, including car head units and mobile devices. The platform also enables a situation-aware human-machine interface (HMI) where passengers can help reduce the driver’s workload by becoming co-pilots. AllView incorporates the latest automotive technology, including SDLP, WebKit, Blink, HTML5 and more, and is available for commercial use.

Also at the Munich event, M2M specialist Telit Wireless Solutions added two modules to its lineup of automotive-grade products. The products include an in-band modem conforming to Europe’s eCall directive and leveraging Telit’s expertise in audio processing and tuning.

Finally, Toyota testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. Congress investigating dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) and the sharing the 5.9 GHz spectrum. Toyota testified that, while it supports DSRC technologies as an innovative way to increase communication between vehicles and thus reduce accidents, it believes that opening up the 5.9 GHz spectrum to unlicensed devices would be a mistake, at least until interference concerns are investigated.

We are not conceptually opposed to sharing the 5.9 GHz spectrum with unlicensed devices,” said John Kenney, principal researcher at Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Silicon Valley. “However, we also believe that the creation of a sharing framework, or the implementation of sharing rules, should not occur unless and until a viable spectrum sharing technology is identified and testing verifies that there is no harmful interference.”

(For more on the DSRC debate, see Ann Arbor and the future of V2V/V2I, part I and Ann Arbor and the future of V2V/V2I, part II.)

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2013 on Nov. 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2013 on Dec. 11-12 in San Francisco, Consumer Telematics Show 2014 on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.

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