Infotainment system stretches technology with optics, multi-disc DVD

  • 20-Feb-2012 11:23 EST

Mitsubishi’s radio head unit squeezes navigation and a six-disc DVD player into one slot.

Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America is supplying a new rear-seat entertainment (RSE) and radio system to Mercedes-Benz for its 2012 M-Class and GL-Class vehicles. The RSE pushes technology, using optical networking, wireless headphones, and a compact six-disc DVD player. The radio portion includes a full navigation system with voice recognition, a hard drive, and an optional six-disc DVD changer. It’s one of the first six-disc DVD players that fit in a single slot—a much more challenging task than fitting a similar CD player in one slot.

“DVDs spin a lot faster, so the motors are different, and for the optics needed for Blu-Ray and for MP-3 discs, you need two different lasers," said Mike Antrim, Director, Audio/Visual Communication for Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America. "The decoding circuitry is a lot more complex; some of the chips draw half an amp.”

The navigation system holds a large amount of information for points of interest. It also provides a high level of 3-D imagery.

“There’s a 80-Gbyte hard disk, which holds a lot of data for 3-D maps, point-of-interest data that include Zagat ratings for restaurants, and 10 Gbytes of music. The 3-D capability shows the driver buildings that look like the real things,” Antrim said.

The independent RSE system includes two 8-in video screens mounted on the back of the front-seat headrests, and a remote DVD player located on the console. Mitsubishi and Mercedes worked closely together to improve stylistic design and improve compatibility with headrest safety.

“The second-generation RSE screens are styled to be fully integrated with active headrests, which move forward if there’s an accident,” Antrim said.

Mitsubishi connects the nodes using an optical version of the MOST network. The system also uses a 2.4-GHz wireless link to send signals to headsets. This link uses SMSC's Kleer technology, providing better performance than other wireless alternatives.

“Infrared connections have background noise and you can lose the signal if you move your head and don’t have line of sight,” Antrim said. “2.4 GHz offers more channels, it’s quieter, and position doesn’t matter.”

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