The Basics of Vehicle Multimedia Systems

Vehicle Infotainment and Entertainment Systems

Vehicle Infotainment

Today most modern vehicles enjoy In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) and In-Car Entertainment (ICE). This refers to the collection of hardware and software i that provides audio or video entertainment. A concept that was only previously found in high-end cars, limousines, and recreational vehicles in the form of radios, cassettes and CD players now includes OEM automotive navigation systems, video players, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, in-car internet and WIFI. Once controlled by simple dashboards knobs and dials, ICE systems can include steering wheel audio controls and handsfree voice control.

Driven by the demand for more connected vehicles, car manufacturers, electronics, and software suppliers as well as multinational technology companies like Apple and Google work together and compete to develop user-friendly and safe-to-use infotainment systems. ICE systems are increasingly commonplace with newer vehicle models and several auto makers have developed their own systems like Ford with SYNC and MyFord Touch and Toyota with their Entune system for example.

Safety and Security Concerns

The further mass adoption of smartphones worldwide has given rise to a new issue, the use of connected devices in the car. This raises safety concerns related to distracted driving and also pushes the automotive industry to integrate those devices in a safe manner. "Traditional" car makers increasingly rely on the software and electronics expertise of auto suppliers and technology companies to help them design such systems. Google and Apple's mobile OSs' making the bulk of the market, the two tech companies have developed projection modes (Android Auto, Apple Car Play) to enable mobile devices to be operated in vehicles through the dashboard head unit so that the vehicle occupants don't manipulate their devices directly, use an interface they are familiar with, and spend more time with their eyes on the road. With the increased access to functions of a vehicle concerns have also been raised on potential remote hacking of system controls and built in cameras.

In-vehicle Infotainment System components

In-vehicle infotainment works in integration with many other in-vehicle and external systems to deliver entertainment and information to the driver and passengers. Main components of these system include:

  • Integrated Head-Unit: In-vehicle infotainment head unit is a touch screen based, tablet-like device, mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard. With user friendly HMI, the head unit acts as a perfectly connected control centre for the infotainment system.

  • Heads-Up Display: Automotive heads-up display is an integral part of high-end infotainment systems, which displays the vehicle’s real-time information on the transparent screen integrated with the vehicle’s windshield. Heads-up display helps in reducing the driver’s distraction while driving and assists him with key details like speed, navigation maps, electronic digital cluster (information from vehicle’s OBD port-II), climate, multimedia options, etc.

  • High-end DSPs and GPUs to support multiple displays: New age infotainment systems are powered by powerful automotive processors designed for advanced IVI systems. These automotive processors are capable of displaying content on multiple displays (e.g. Head-up Display or Windshield, Connected smartphones, Head Unit, and more) and delivers an enhanced in-vehicle experience to drivers and passengers.

  • Operating Systems: In vehicle infotainment systems require operating systems that are capable of supporting connectivity, convenience functions, and downloadable software applications to integrate new functions in the system. Operating systems like Android, Linux, QNX, Windows  are leading the infotainment segment.

  • CAN, LVDS and other network protocol support (as per the requirement): The electronic hardware components in infotainment systems are interconnected with certain standardized communication protocols such as CAN (Controller Area Network).  CAN or any other network protocol support allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without the host computer.

  • Connectivity Modules: Infotainment systems encompass GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth modules to provide connectivity with external networks and devices. These modules help in establishing services like navigation, internet connectivity and smartphone integration with the infotainment system.

  • Automotive Sensors Integration: Proximity sensors, gesture recognition sensors for detecting ambient light, camera sensors and many other in-vehicle sensors integrate with infotainment systems to provide safety-related information to the driver and passengers.

  • Digital Instrument Cluster: Hi-tech infotainment systems have transformed the automotive cockpit designs from static displays of the in-vehicle instruments to digital instrument clusters. Digital instrument clusters include digital displays of the traditional analog gauges in the vehicle like speedometer, RPM, odometer, etc.


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Posted on Sep 23, 2020 by Auto Repair Directory

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