Is Car Ownership Headed Toward the Junkyard?

February 16, 2018

People love to own cars. We give them names, write songs about them, and parade them slowly and lovingly through the center of town. We devote endless hours to polishing, tinkering, repairing and detailing them. Over time, cars can transition from mere possessions into treasured keepsakes that tell the stories of our lives and families, housing memories, milestones and experiences that mark the passage of time as well as miles.

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Embedded Modem or Smartphone: What is the Best Way to Bring the Internet to the Car?

February 2, 2018

More and more automakers are putting modems in their vehicles to essentially turn the car into a smartphone on wheels. An embedded modem is “always on” even when the car is not, opening the door to features like remote vehicle start, locking/unlocking, remote car diagnosis and vehicle tracking. The car owner can then easily manage these functions through a smartphone companion app provided by the automaker.

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Automotive Technology Slides into the Driver’s Seat at CES 2018

January 17, 2018

Introduction

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has become one of the biggest and most influential trade shows in the world. Companies of all sizes from across the technology spectrum make their way to the Nevada desert every year to show off their latest innovations, network with potential partners, generate brand buzz and maybe drop a dollar or two in the casino after dinner.

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Secure Connections Between Smartphones and In-Vehicle Systems

January 5, 2018

Introduction

This blog describes a high-level approach to securing and authenticating the connection link between in-vehicle systems and smartphone applications. A secure link is needed in cases such as vehicle data collection, receiving firmware updates (using store and forward model), enabling premium features and other scenarios.

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Understanding the Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use: Part II

December 18, 2017

Introduction

This two-part blog post explores the Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use.

Part I of the series  provided an overview of Alexa and its current uses in an automotive context. Part II describes specific Alexa functions and how they can be used in automotive systems, and then provides a possible implementation architecture with a focus on using Alexa in the vehicle.

 

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Understanding the Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use: Part I

December 6, 2017

 

Introduction

 

This two-part blog post will explore Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use.

Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa is currently the dominant voice recognition technology for in-home devices. Thanks to an open development ecosystem, users can choose from Amazon’s own devices (such as Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, etc.) as well as various third-party products including smart speakers, smart TVs, in-vehicle assistants, etc. Through its Skills APIs, Amazon has opened a powerful ecosystem for many third-party devices and services, dramatically extending Alexa’s capabilities.

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Smartphone Gateway Connectivity via USB

November 3, 2017

Introduction

An earlier post about over the air updates via the smartphone discussed the need for in-vehicle systems to open a secure connection to the cloud, via the smartphone, to verify the integrity and authenticity of software updates. This post examines how to achieve the same result with a USB connection, describes the standard USB connectivity options between smartphone and in-vehicle head-units, and discusses the difficulties of obtaining internet connectivity out of the box with those approaches.

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The Role of Smart Devices in the Modern Automotive Experience

October 15, 2017

 

Introduction

Like virtually every other industry in the world, the automotive sector has been profoundly affected by the explosion of smart devices. Today, smartphones let millions of people enjoy the convenience of ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft or car-sharing services like Zipcar or car2go. Smartphones can also extend the capabilities of the car itself with over-the-air updates, customization, internet connectivity and more. And in the not-too-distant future, when self-driving cars are shared between multiple users, smart devices will carry the user’s identity from vehicle to vehicle, a

llowing for instant personalization.

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The Path to the Future of Connected Cars: Over the Air and Through the Phone

July 6, 2017

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones, connected consumer electronics devices and cloud-based software, consumers have come to expect automatic, seamless over-the-air (OTA) updates that don’t disrupt their device usage.  As today’s cars become more and more technologically advanced, rolling off the line with up to 100 computers and millions of lines of code, it is now possible to update vehicles the same way we update our phones.  For car makers, the ability to push out OTA updates to their customers decreases maintenance, saves money by reducing recalls and increases customer satisfaction. Despite these advantages, most cars on the road today don’t yet have this capability, and drivers who want to update their automotive software have to either bring their vehicle into the dealership or download software to a thumb drive. The high-end models (led by Tesla) that do come with OTA capabilities use built-in modems, adding hardware and on-going cellular data expense to the vehicle.  While it may seem that the majority of drivers on the road will miss out on seamless OTA updates in the short-term unless they upgrade to the latest and greatest luxury sedan, there is in fact a simple and elegant solution that doesn’t require a built-in device, a solution that every driver already carries around in their hand everyday: the ubiquitous and versatile smartphone.

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