Throughout the auto industry, industry players are scrambling to link consumer electronics to vehicles. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show put on by the CEA (Consumer Electronic Association) in Las Vegas, a number of suppliers teamed up to support GENIVI, a standard that many hope will become the target environment for infotainment developers.
The GENIVI Alliance made the first live demonstration of its multi-architecture middleware platform, the Apollo baseline, at CES. The Apollo software, shown in Visteon’s booth on some of its systems, was augmented by a number of demonstrations made in a private room.
Renesas Electronics displayed a high-end infotainment/dashboard controller based on an ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor. Intel showed automotive-targeted applications running on an Atom-based infotainment system, while Texas Instruments demonstrated an OMAP3-based reference platform. Nokia showed a Terminal Mode client running on the head unit connected to a phone. Rohm, Oki, and Sophia Systems teamed up on what they call the Black Creek Development Platform. A reference platform from IAV displayed the designer’s capability. Other vendors such as Neusoft, Cinemo, Intrinsyc, and Luxoft also joined in the action.
The GENIVI Alliance is creating software that it hopes will become the standard for many infotainment systems and application programs. That will make it simpler for developers and programmers, who will be able to design to common specifications and requirements. Proponents note that membership more than doubled during 2010, with Robert Bosch, Tata Consulting, and TomTom joining early this year.
“The fact that our membership has grown to 101 demonstrates the auto industry is starving for solutions like this,” said Joel Hoffman, Chair of the GENIVI Alliance Marketing Committee. “We are focusing on compliance so GENIVI members can plug their programs into other people’s software. That ensures that map suppliers, for example, can provide data for everyone.”
The standard, like most, should help cut costs. That will be important in infotainment since consumer products and owner expectations are constantly shifting.
“One pain in the side of the infotainment industry is that development never stops, so you have a lot of nonrecoverable costs. GENIVI won’t eliminate those nonrecoverable costs, but it will reduce them,” said Hoffman, who’s also strategic Marketing Development Manager for Intel’s Embedded Computing Group.
Though GENIVI has a lot of support, it still has a fair way to go before it’s ready for use in vehicles. The second release of Alliance-developed software was just completed, and the hardware and software were only recently separated so the code could run on a range of processors.
A compliance statement won’t be finished until later this year. Once it’s finished, programs will be developed to go along with it. They must then be validated by automakers and moved into production.
Though that might sound daunting, proponents feel it will be simpler to port applications packages to the GENIVI platform than to alter them for every new product variant that emerges. They also contend that the pieces will be in place by the time the industry is truly ready to use them.
“I don’t think the applications field will be settled before GENIVI is out there,” Hoffman said.