Interview with Mr. Rudolf Streif, Director of Embedded Solutions, The Linux Foundation for the Connected Car Market
About The Linux Foundation: It is a nonprofit consortium, founded in 2007, dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. It sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and is supported by leading Linux and open source companies and developers around the world. The foundation promotes, standardizes and protects Linux by providing unified resources and services required for open source to successfully compete with closed platforms.
About Rudolf Streif: He is managing The Linux Foundation’s initiatives for embedded solutions working with the community and companies to provide environments and platforms for embedded Linux systems. He also created The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Linux Summit, an international conference which connects open source with the automotive industry.
- 1. What are the key opportunities areas for the market participants?
1) Direct revenue from applications, services and content:
If it is done right, software updates will become the main revenue generator since people are willing to pay for them if they are reasonably priced. Software can keep the car up-to-date even if it’s not the latest model anymore and is essentially tied to the regular maintenance of the vehicle.
2) Application offering new features with cool usability factor
He likes to call it “car modeling the software way”. Car enthusiasts spend a lot of money in market stores to deck out their rides. Not everyone is a hobby mechanic and many people are always looking for new features that enhance the usability of their vehicles. For the motorsports enthusiast an application could make the instrument cluster resemble the one of a Nascar race car. For a parent an application can monitor the driving patterns of a teenager.
3) Content such as live TV, video-on-demand, live entertainment, video conferencing:
These are other opportunities for revenue streams. Car makers could team up with Video on demand (VOD) services such as Netflix to deliver a new entertainment experience to passengers in cars.
4) Additional opportunities exist for insurance telematics and stolen vehicle retrieval:
Systems like LoJack have been built into cars for a while and adoption appears to be low. The cost for system and service is about $700 but when insurance companies are the main beneficiaries they often offer minor policy discounts.
- 2. What are the current market trends for connected car and the market scenario over the next five years?
1) Technology Integration:
The 2nd generation (1998 – 2006) of infotainment devices are distributed and comprised of 5 to 10 different ECUs (display, head unit, navigation, CD changer, satellite radio, connectivity unit, phone integration, amplifier, etc.) which makes them very expensive. The 3rd generation (2005 – 2010) integrates most of the functionality into one head unit/display ECU with the amplifier and navigation still being separate. The current 4th generation will consist of a head unit capable of driving one or more displays which is complemented by a telematics ECU and/or connectivity ECU.
2) Cloud Integration:
Traditional infotainment systems are generally self-contained and self-reliant except for audio content from regular AM/FM radio or satellite radio. Navigation maps and other services were on-board. Future generations will rely more and more on cloud-based backend systems for content, information and services.
3) User Experience:
Systems and services will be designed with a consumer product focus. It is about a consumer-oriented experience that includes passengers as well as the driver and not just about any automotive experience. Vehicle and consumer technology are coming together.
4) Human Machine Interface (HMI):
Displays will be replacing the traditional gauges. The instrument cluster will be another display. Dedicated buttons and controls will make way for features such as context-oriented gesture control, voice recognition, and touch screens.
- 3. The connected car products and services market scenario.
The future remains to be seen and depend on how much the car companies open up their systems for third party developers. However, car makers will need to standardize on common solutions to drive the market and open systems to create the necessary critical mass among application developers.
The standards and platforms have to be open. Interoperability is the key to make it happen. Consumers want to pay for content and want the platforms to deliver content. They do not want to to make a platform decision in order to get the content they wish to have. There is no need to repeat the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD battle. No single OEM is big enough to drive a platform and attract sufficient content providers and application developers.
- 4. How do the Connectivity solutions or various network enabling technologies such as LTE, Wi-Fi etc Stack against each other?
LTE will be the main connectivity solution especially, when the vehicle is in motion. Currently the mobile networks are providing good coverage in all metropolitan areas, although connectivity remains a problem in rural areas, which will impact the usability of cloud services.
WiFI has its place as vehicle to infrastructure connectivity when the vehicle is parked. It can be used for functions such as software updates, downloading maps and content. WiFi is a cost effective alternative because it does not incur data volume costs as LTE does.
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