Hyundai activates its own cloud server for Blue Link

  • 19-May-2014 01:52 EDT
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Google Destination Search is a new cloud-based app, providing turn-by-turn directions to POIs that are selected.

A car maker setting up its own cloud server may seem like taking on a problem-prone task that could better be left to one of the many specialty companies, as other car manufacturers do. In fact, that's what Hyundai had been doing—until now, when the company activated a cloud server for its Generation 2 (Gen2) Blue Link infotainment and services system. However, the cars will continue with the three-button arrangement on the rearview mirror: B (BlueLink) for road service; the highway symbol for cloud-based features, including travel aids; and the red SOS with phone icon for emergencies.

Moving from a hosted cloud server to its own gives Hyundai direct connections with its customers in a number of areas.

"Now we reach our customers first," noted Michael Deitz, Manager for Connected Car at Hyundai Motor America. The server then instantly relays all road-service request and emergency calls from the cloud to the Sirius XM/Agero call center.

A first look means Hyundai immediately can review and record (and, if necessary, more quickly respond to) all road-related events. They include road-service requests such as emergencies, new automatic collision notifications, and diagnostic issues including trouble codes. If needed, the system provides a direct connection into the dealers' X-Time service appointment scheduling tool. Previously, data went directly to the call center maintained by SiriusXM/Agero, which even generated the "vehicle health reports."

"Now we're producing the vehicle health reports," Deitz said emphatically.

Google destination search added

Owning and operating the cloud server also gives Hyundai the opportunity to validate and add apps more quickly, and the 2015 Genesis and Sonata are examples. Outwardly, the second-generation system resembles the first, with those three buttons in a row. Pressing the center button (highway icon) goes to apps in the cloud, now including Google Destination Search, which creates a data connection that uses the cloud server's Google Voice to recognize the request and then fulfill it. Pick a point of interest (POI), and Google can provide audio and visual turn-by-turn navigation on cars without embedded navigation.

Other new cloud-supplied content providers include Sound Hound (music search engine) and Pandora, the latter a "hybrid" that also requires a connected phone. Hyundai includes some lengthy free "trials" (three years for Sirius XM audio, Traffic Link, and Traffic). When the free usage expires, the Hyundai cloud server originates Blue Link billing, which is handled by Authorize.net, a company also responsible for secure holding of credit card numbers (the numbers never go to Hyundai).

The B (Blue Link) button uses onboard voice recognition (from Nuance) to create a voice call that is routed to the call center for road service, with a live agent on the other end. At the rightmost position is that button marked SOS with the red phone icon, which works similarly to the B button, but to summon emergency assistance.

Because the cloud server is at the center, Hyundai has ultimate responsibility for security. However, the content providers and the Sirius XM/Agero call center add their own layers. Additionally, Verizon, the cellular link between the server and the new 3G modem in the head units of these cars, provides its own security over the protocol from the Hyundai server, which in turn is using secure data from its providers. Google, for example, has a secure transmission system that includes 256-bit encryption. Except for the Verizon network between the cloud and the car, all transmissions between the cloud and other interfaces are on a secured Covisint platform.

3G modem, new touchscreens, apps 

The new 3G-modem head unit contains the module for telematics, vs. the separate simpler module and modem on the previous generation. The Genesis comes with a choice of two touchscreens, in standard 8 in or a 9.2 in. The larger screen is 720p high-definition, and the head has a 64-GB solid-state drive for media.

New smartphone apps for Gen2 include an upgrade to the engine remote start and an Intelligent Assistant. The remote start now provides driver-selectable 1-10 min of engine warmup, including climate control operation (defrost too) if desired and engine-stop capability if the driver has a change of mind.

A text message to a smartphone sends a suggestion for the engine-start and climate-control operation based on the "Assistant's" reading of weather conditions for the zip code. It also monitors traffic on a planned route, and if the fuel level is low (warning light comes on) will mark locations of gas stations on the navigation system display along the route. Because it monitors traffic conditions, the Assistant is able to estimate departure times to make appointments. The Assistant also includes a parked car locator feature that provides a walking map back to the car.

The new automatic collision notification and call-for-emergency-assistance features also permit the driver to have pre-selected emergency contact information for transmission via SMS and email. The Gen2 Blue Link integrates Apple's Siri Eyes Free, and for iPhone users later this year the new Sonata will be compatible with Apple CarPlay. This is a suite that includes turn-by-turn directions, phone calls and texts, and supports podcasts, iHeart radio, Spotify (music streaming), and Stitcher (streaming talk radio). It will work with car controls including the touchscreen as well as Apple's Siri Voice. CarPlay would duplicate embedded navigation, but unlike the embedded type it does not provide coverage in tunnels or areas without cell service.

The Gen2 system has been phased-in only on the Genesis and Sonata to date, so the earlier system with a Sirius XM cloud server, that handles the existing customer base, will continue for an undefined period.

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