Video on demand, Internet radio, and other wireless broadband services are some of the in-vehicle realities shown on a demonstration car that connects to the LTE (Long Term Evolution) or "4G" network.
"The LTE Connected Car concept is a convergence of Internet associated applications coming into the car," said Andy Gryc, Product Marketing Manager for QNX Software Systems in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, during a December demonstration of the car's broadband connectivity in metro Detroit.
All of the connected car's system software, infotainment applications, and the onboard operating system run on the QNX Car platform. Alcatel-Lucent technical specialists combined an LTE broadband radio link with an in-vehicle Wi-Fi environment to support the integration of the concept car's wireless networks.
"In real-world testing, LTE is four to five times faster and has more bandwidth than today's 3G network. LTE is launching in major U.S. markets in 2010 and likely will be ubiquitous in two to three years," said Derek Kuhn, Vice President of Emerging Technology & Media for Alcatel-Lucent.
QNX and Alcatel-Lucent managed the end-to-end integration of multimedia services, including video gaming for multiple players, video-on-demand, streaming video of YouTube, Pandora and other Internet sites, portable device connectivity, and navigation with local search via Google.
Development of the connected car unfolded as an open innovation project—"meaning there is a legal framework to this project, so the intellectual property that each party brought to the table is respected, and any intellectual property created during the project is being jointly shared by the parties involved," said Kuhn.
Alcatel-Lucent and QNX engineers joined efforts in Ottawa, New Jersey, Texas, and Stuttgart, Germany, while engineers from other companies—including Atlantic Records—made significant contributions, noted Kuhn.
The LTE Connected Car technology—demonstrated on three 2010 Toyota Prius cars—lets vehicle occupants interface with Internet Protocol-based wireless applications via one of four independently operated touch screens in the sedan.
"The ability to connect a smart phone or other portable electronic device to a car's onboard communications bus is relevant, especially in terms of providing access to phone numbers and other information stored on a handheld device. But this approach can be limiting," said QNX's Gryc.
According to Kuhn, a car with its own broadband data access means unlimited possibilities. "From Alcatel-Lucent's perspective, there are things we can do to make the car outperform a smart phone or other handheld electronic devices because of the car's footprint. LTE makes use of technology such as multiple-in/multiple-out (MIMO), which benefits from multiple antenna locations.
"You really need a persistent link to the network for Internet connectivity and that's what the LTE Connected Car demonstrates. Whether it's a direct connection from the car to your home's security system, or hands-free access of social media networks from the car, we believe that a connected car is how these and other kinds of applications and services shine," said Kuhn.
Demonstrations and real-world testing of the connected car is ongoing in various European and North America locations.