Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Interconnects on the go

I attended a panel of car and plane electronics makers at the Consumer Electronics Show this month that gave some insights into some of their most pressing interconnect issues.

Bill Mattingly, a vice president for electronics at Chrysler, said car makers need standard interfaces for consumer electronics—at least at the physical layer. “We can accept the fact we need to do protocol updates every year,” he said.

Gary Jablonski, a development manager for infotainment systems at Ford, said he expects to leverage more PC standards while waiting for car industry efforts. USB has already become the de factor audio interface for cars, he added.

A representative from an avionics company said car and plane makers need to agree on a video interface because USB is not adequate to the task. Choose wisely because it can cost a whopping $240 million to outfit a plane with new connectors, he added.

One after-market vendor said the industry needs a protocol to pause entertainment devices when the vehicle senses the driver is in a critical phase such as fast breaking or highway acceleration. “We need to get a standard for driver distraction,” he said.

Very basic reconfigurable radios to link to the outside world will also be critical, he added. Cars need to last twenty years and that may require spanning links from GSM to LTE or even WiMax, he said.

As for wireless inside the car, all sides said ultrawideband is a non-starter. “UWB has massive EMC problems in the car. It would be a nightmare,” said one panelist.

UWB and Bluetooth—due to its channel structure--are both not suitable for the airplane, said the avionics rep, although Wi-Fi is a maybe.

As if there were not enough problems, Chris Steiner, OEM sales manager at Garmin, said GPS makers have no common connector for their devices yet. “That’s one of the big challenges we, Magellan and others have ahead,” he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never mind data, what about solving the g-d power connector already? I cannot believe that here in the day of jetpacks and nuclear-powered helicars we're still using a cigarette lighter socket to keep GPS devices alive.

Why hasn't the transportation industry pushed for a Y2K-type switchover to the EmPower adapter and be done with it?