20 October 2010

QNX Automotive Innovation Celebration at Convergence

What do you do when your customers support you all the way to the top of the heap - as in 200+ makes and models, and 20 million vehicle system licenses? You thank them of course.

QNX Software Systems held a fun and warm reception last night for customers. The food was surprisingly tasty, the event well attended, and the vibe unmistakably ... um, well ... really, really good.

This reception made me wonder. Is a good event just like a good party? Do they just 'happen'? And when they do happen, can we as marketers learn from them? Nah ...

What are little digital instrument clusters made of?

Well, it's not snips and snails, and puppy-dog tails. It's more like steppers and LCDs, and integrated graphic controllers. And of course the right software.

Fujitsu is carving out their territory in digital instrument cluster space by offering a highly tailored line of processors: Jade, Ruby, Emerald, Indigo, and Sapphire. The QNX Neutrino RTOS runs on the SOC versions of these chips to enable beautiful, smooth, graphics displays.

Compare the Range Rover's cluster (pictured here) with the Ford Fusion's in the Fujitsu booth (#817) and you'll see for yourself why software makes a big difference.

Just how important is the software? Fujitsu is showing two actual production instrument clusters in their Convergence booth (#817). One is rather jerky and the other is smooth and fluid. Jerky and hesitating? The competition's cluster, of course! Smooth as silk? You guessed it. The QNX-based cluster on the Range Rover. And that's in addition to the latter cluster driving a far bigger display with more impressive graphics. Same chip.

I guess the right software is what little digital instrument clusters are made of.

Freescale SABRE rattles the house at Convergence

Remember the Total5200 and Media5200 - two fully-loaded development platforms for doing auto development that Freescale provided several years ago? We haven't seen anything quite like this in a long time. Freescale fixed that problem yesterday with their i.MX53 automotive reference board at the show, called the Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE). They're demoing it in their private suite. The SABRE is running with a hot-off-the-press port of the QNX CAR Application Platform infotainment reference.

The powerful SABRE will strike fear into the hearts of automotive competitors with the new Freescale i.MX53 main board and support for the QNX Neutrino RTOS.

If you're looking for power, this platform has it, with a dual core 800MHz Cortex A8. The QNX Neutrino RTOS supports both cores with SMP to maximize application throughput. The board is loaded with a host of interfaces and connectors ideal for advanced automotive infotainment and telematics development: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, cellular modem, MOST and CAN, tons of audio jacks, terrestrial and satellite tuners, cameras, and displays. Graphics acceleration for OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG round out the offering.

It's been a while since a development board for automotive has had this much power and capability.With QNX supporting this platform at yesterday's unveiling and with the i.MX53 being such a popular chip in automotive, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of it.

Convergence 2010 booth visitors speak out about their connectivity priorities

Yesterday at the QNX booth, we asked visitors to rank in order of importance their top connected car features. There are no real big surprises but it is always good to hear from the proverbial horse's mouth:
  1. personal device connectivity - over 50% of respondants rank this as their top priority
  2. connectivity within the car for infotainment systems
  3. connectivity around the car to help drivers navigate better, and cloud connectivity - tied for third
The Blue Ribbon panel at yesterday's session had many more interesting thoughts to add to this conversation. See What will the auto industry look like in 2012 for details.

Connected Car 2.0 at Convergence 2010: Why the Corvette?

The QNX booth at yesterday's SAE Convergence show in Detroit was without a doubt, one of the busiest on the exhibit floor. I know that sounds biased but the proof is really in the pudding. 

The Connected Car 2.0 drew a constant crowd of excited onlookers throughout day one.

Many people were curious about why we chose the Corvette. The answer is simple according to Derek Kuhn, VP of marketing and sales. "The Corvette is a classic 'driver's car' but it's never been known for its technology. Turning the vet into a souped-up technology car shows people that they can have the best of both worlds."

19 October 2010

How is Gen Y changing the automotive landscape?

Here's a few other interesting nuggets from this morning's Blue Ribbon panel at Convergence 2010.

OnStar: The older generation saw the physical car as a statement. Gen Y sees connectivity the same way. And they want customization.

RIM: Connectivity is an innate behavior, regardless of generation. Gen Y will want applications we dont yet know about; for this we need a flexible platform.

Sprint: They have a Pavlovian response to email or SMS. We need to figure out how they can do it safely in the car because they are going to do it anyways.

Microsoft: Gen Y needs the ability to access their own ‘personal cloud’.

Gartner: This segment of our audience tends to buy used vehicles. [Ed note: Is Koslowski referring to an after-market opportunity?]

Moderator: Gen Y wants the vehicle to become their second home.

What will the auto industry look like in 2012?

Here's what the folks at today's Blue Ribbon panel (Convergence 2010) had to say when asked the above-mentioned question:

Sprint: Vehicle to infrastructure (v to i) will be very important.

KIA: The industry will be looking at how to commoditze data.

Microsoft: A natural user interface will be big.

RIM: Intersection with the user’s lifestyle; how to make the car a destination point.

ATX: Management of loyalty, relationship with the consumer.

Freescale: We will be talking about what no one has thought of yet.

OnStar: Fundamental cost of maintaining connectivity after purchase.

Gartner: We'll be looking at things like leveraging metadata to improve traffic flow.