Automotive and Infotainment – An Overview

Introduction

Gone are the days when buying a car with only a music player was lavish. The time has changed! Today technology is evolving rapidly, and everything is getting automated. Vehicles with enhanced safety, security, comfort, performance, availability and infotainment are in high demand. Users are enthusiastic to own a vehicle with highly integrated communication, information, and entertainment systems that connect all their smart devices and gadgets and provide them a seamless experience.

Over the last decade, there has been a massive growth in the field of “Automotive and Infotainment” which will pursue between 2019 to 2028.  According to MarketsandMarkets, the in-vehicle infotainment market is projected to reach USD 30.47 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 11.79%, whereas Mordor Intelligence predicts that the automotive and infotainment system market is expected to register a CAGR of 12.29%, during the forecast period, 2019-2024. This increase is fuelled by an increase in customers’ focus on comfort and the growing trends towards electric vehicles, driver assistance, and autonomous cars.

What is Automotive Infotainment?

Automotive Infotainment also known as In-vehicle Infotainment (IVI) has become an important part of vehicle electronics. Automotive and Infotainment is the integration of hardware and software system which delivers information and entertainment to the driver and passengers through various on-board electronics and applications.

The simple in-vehicle infotainment which originated a few decades ago incorporated a car audio system consisting of FM Radio and CD player which could be operated using a simple dashboard knob. As the technology evolved, the vehicles were equipped with touchscreen dashboard, text-to-speech and voice recognition to provide drivers on-board with exclusive user experience.  The latest automotive and infotainment systems also provide audio control and call pick-up functionality on the steering wheel ensuring smoother operation and a minimal distraction to the drivers.

The In-vehicle infotainment systems are built with advanced technologies and features such as automotive navigation systems, video, and audio players, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Smartphone integration, etc.to enhance the vehicle’s communication and connectivity. The system is incorporated with innovative and high-quality infotainment technologies and is sophisticatedly designed to provide advanced solutions such as vehicle tracking, safety information, seamless connectivity, hands-free communication, media accessibility and enhance the in-cabin experience to the users.

Automotive and Infotainment, Infotainment

Features of an advanced In-vehicle Infotainment System

  • Embedded Processors

Nowadays, SoC manufacturers are focusing on designing high-performance, low-power processors dedicated for infotainment applications. These advanced processors are designed to display the information on multiple screens such as HUD, Rear-view mirror, seat-back displays, instrument cluster, etc. and provide an enhanced in-vehicle experience to driver and passengers. These latest DSPs and ARM combined SoCs enables the integration of all the above infotainment components along with driver assistance systems to provide a connected environment.

  • High-Resolution Touch Screen Display Monitors

The head unit of any automotive infotainment system is its “Control System Dashboard.” The touchscreen features a compact display with large buttons and icons for safe and ease of operation during driving. The menu comprises of multimedia icons to control and use various features such as radio, map, Bluetooth hands-free facility, music streaming, voice control, weather change, etc.

  • Voice Recognition

Voice recognition allows the driver to operate a car’s functions via voice command. By speaking instructions, the driver can control features such as navigation, radio, phone media, call, and even air condition temperature, instead of using the physical buttons on the dashboard. Voice recognition in cars is being increasingly utilized in order to boost convenience and safety for the driver and passengers. With voice commands, the driver will spend less time fiddling with buttons or touchscreens, and instead, both hands can be kept on the wheel and eyes kept on the road.

Most of the automotive cars has the capability to learn the driver’s voice over time and understand phrases and words that make it easier to use, while others are being developed to be able to respond to requests such as ‘I want to re-fuel’ – it’ll then give you your options as to where you’ll be able to find one nearby fuel station.

  • Seatback Display

The car seat-back display also known as the rear-seat display is designed to entertain passengers sitting in the rear. The smart display screens offer an easy way for passengers to connect to the AV devices without any hassle. The seat-back display unit allows passengers to enjoy music, shows, games and even movies in high resolution via external memory devices or real-time streaming.  In addition, to offer audio and video entertainment, rear-seat entertainment displays are now offering email and Internet connectivity. It can also provide information regarding the vehicle, its navigation, and connectivity.

  • Smartphone Integration

Integrating smartphones to cars or any other vehicle via the Infotainment system provides a safe, smart and convenient way to the drivers to use their smartphones on-the-go without any distraction. Pairing your smartphone with the vehicle infotainment system, either using hand free Bluetooth connectivity, USB or Wi-Fi, enables you to easily and conveniently access various features of the phone via the dashboard of the car. It allows the driver to make or receive calls, send a voice message, read texts, play music, radio, stream data for navigation, play podcasts, and much more. One of the key features of a smartphone integrated solution is that it provides hands-free operations typically through voice recognition and text-to-speech interfaces of the smartphone.

The Bluetooth paired smartphone with the infotainment system displays the phone’s contact list, messages, appointment, notifications, music details, and other information on the dashboard screen for easy access and seamless user experience.

  • Automotive Navigation System

The navigation system in automobiles uses GPS data to inform or alert the driver about traffic, congestion, collision, etc. Combining the use of interactive onboard maps and GPS data, the vehicle can plot the best routes to a given destination. The navigation system is also capable of accurately tracking the present place or live position of the vehicle to provide the information to the driver on-screen, without any distractions. This navigation system feature enhances the safety of the driver and passengers, and eventually reduces the stress level while driving.

Aftermarket to In-built Automotive Infotainment Systems

The biggest factor that separates the cars of today from previous cars is the integration of electronics, infotainment system and connectivity in almost every aspect. Over time, the car cockpit has evolved from integrating an after-market, pluggable audio system as an option to advanced in-built infotainment systems providing an enhanced experience to the driver. Large analog tuners and buttons have been replaced by touch screens and elegant soft-touch pads. The audio and video controls are elegantly integrated on steering wheels to provide superior user experience and minimize safety-related issues.

Conclusion

The entire automotive industry is rapidly evolving and adapting various innovative and advanced technologies – IoT, AI, and Robotics to deliver better solutions to the consumers. Infotainment systems are built around high-performance multi-core SoCs and embedded software to enable multiple applications on a single device.  Automotive Electronics manufacturers are now focusing on providing “connected cars” that leverage IoT and AI technologies which bring in a whole new level of connectivity and intelligence to the in-vehicle infotainment systems. With the advent of Voice assistant devices like Siri and Alexa, automotive manufacturers are providing integration with these devices to provide consumers with a continuous seamless transition from home to car to office.

Mistral is an embedded product design company providing cutting-edge design services for building In-vehicle Infotainment solutions to leading automotive companies. By combining creativity, technical expertise and refined processes, Mistral offers sophisticated embedded hardware and software design services that integrate audio, video, wireless technologies, DSP Algorithms and HMI, building intelligent, connected in-vehicle infotainment solutions.

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