Changing how smart phones are used inside a car could obsolete certain in-vehicle electronics and data storage units as early as 2015, according to a Delphi executive.
"OEMs may choose to delete features like CD and DVD media playback electronics, embedded software applications, and databases for navigation as they incorporate smart phone connectivity into vehicles," said Bob Schumacher, Director of Advanced Product and Business Development for Delphi Electronics & Safety.
Making smart phone-to-vehicle connectivity viable for audio, navigation, and other purposes will require certain software and hardware changes.
"Vehicles will need a computing platform with a 32-bit microprocessor running an operating system such as Linux, QNX, or Windows for Automotive; a touch-sensitive color LCD display; microphone and voice recognition software; Bluetooth and WiFi wireless connectivity, as well as embedded system and application software," said Schumacher.
One of the key enablers to leveraging a smart phone's in-vehicle capability is VNC (Virtual Network Computing).
According to Craig Tieman, Advanced Concepts & Market Development Manager at Delphi Electronics & Safety, "All software applications intended for use in connection with vehicles will be tested and certified prior to being made available for download to smart phones, while the transfer of executable code and viruses from the smart phone to the vehicle will be prevented by the use of VNC."
In addition to developing a framework for smart phone-to-vehicle connectivity, Delphi engineers are designing a smart phone application specifically tailored for in-vehicle usage.
According to Tim Bolduc, Senior Software Engineer for Delphi Electronics & Safety, "The weather application—which includes Doppler radar maps for locales along the trip route—is an example of a so-called 'automotive aware' application that changes its user interface based on the location and status of the vehicle, meaning whether the transmission is in drive or park.
"Because the application is automotive aware, it can exchange data with the vehicle's infotainment system in a secure manner. The communications protocol allows the embedded computing platform to decide what, how, when, and where to render this information from the remote application, thus allowing the OEM the ability to deliver comprehensive HMI experiences that are unified across many different third party sources of data," noted Bolduc.
Developing a smart phone connected cockpit hasn't been without engineering hurdles, namely identifying and characterizing an open-standards-based protocol for various smart phone operating systems.
"By working with customized development smart phones running the major mobile operating systems, Delphi has been able to confirm the technical feasibility of supporting these communications protocols on currently deployed smart phones," according to Bolduc. "In parallel with this activity, Delphi has engaged the mobile operating system providers to ensure that the modifications will be supported in next-generation production smart phones."
A smart phone connected cockpit does not prevent access to audio and navigation if a driver does not have or does not want to use a smart phone in-vehicle.
"All embedded systems such as AM, FM, satellite radio, and music playback via USB cable, Bluetooth, or WiFi from an iPod or other portable media device would be available," noted Schumacher. "Vehicle OEMs may choose to bundle an embedded navigation application with map data provided on a small plug-in memory card. As an example, Delphi's connected radio system on the current European-sold Audi A1 provides this type of embedded navigation application."
Delphi technology with smart phone connectivity, content, applications, and services is expected to enter the market in late 2012 on a 2013 model year vehicle application, according to Schumacher.