With consumers expressing a greater desire to watch content from mobile gadgets like smartphones and tablets while cruising down the road, the automobile is fast becoming a state-of-the-art mobile device. Today you can find displays mounted in the center console, in or above the dashboard, on the backs of the front seats and/or overhead in entertainment panels.  According to Staci Palmer, general manager of the automotive solutions division at Intel®, about 40 percent of the estimated 80 million cars shipped in 2012 had some form of integrated in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system in it to run computer applications for entertainment, information or Internet connectivity. Palmer expects that by 2020 that rate will reach 75 percent, or around 85 million IVI systems.

These IVI systems will have to handle various data streams including high definition multimedia and 3D graphics, wirelessly transmitted information connecting the car to local area or wide area (the "cloud") networks and Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) data showing lane-departure warnings and other content (e.g., vehicle system checks) that impacts safety.

All of this will require the aid of advanced Intel® processors and for that reason industry analyst organizations such as IHI iSuppli predict automotive IVI systems are heading toward a PC-like architectural approach in which more functionality is dependent on a powerful main central unit.  In that sense the auto will start to resemble a display-heavy aircraft cockpit with multiple screens for the driver and passengers. iSuppli and other industry watchers see software’s role as being a differentiator among brands with some applications previously implemented via hardware reconfigured instead into simpler programs reliant on a heavily centralized unit marked by strong processing power, significant memory and an effective human-machine interface.


This last item should not be discounted. All of the computing "horsepower" that can be brought to bear will come to naught unless drivers can interact with these systems in a natural and intuitive way. And that is precisely the goal of Intel’s® Perceptual Computing campaign: providing direct, natural human-to-computer interfaces encompassing next-generation voice command and control and gesture recognition. Voice systems using technologies such as voice recognition, text-to-speech and speech-to-text will enable drivers to control entertainment and navigation systems simply by using their voices to operate infotainment and other vehicle controls without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel. Advances in voice-recognition technology will allow drivers to use spoken words to manipulate an increasing number of functions in the future, including controlling the HVAC system, and sending text messages.


The Intel® Perceptual Computing SDK 2013 Beta 2 with support for Nuance Dragon Assistant Core speech recognition is now available as a free download. Voice is firmly in Nuance’s wheelhouse:  More than 70 million cars and 50 million portable navigation systems are equipped with Nuance speech technologies.  According to an IMS Research report more than half of new automobiles in 2019 will integrate voice recognition, up from 37 percent in 2012, as car manufacturers increasingly seek safer ways for drivers to interact with navigation, music or phone calls.


Developers will now be able to add voice commands, short sentence dictation and text-to-speech synthesis to their applications (Fig. 1). Eye tracking and gesture recognition also are in the near future. Cameras mounted in the cabin can see where passengers are sitting in the car, and, more importantly, where they’re looking. If the driver takes his or her eyes off the road, the car would recognize that and could sound a warning. .



Figure 1. Speech Use Cases and Technologies for In-Vehicle Infotainment


The Intel® Perceptual Computing SDK APIs can be used with the Creative Interactive Gesture Camera Developer Kit, employing a small and light-weight USB-powered, depth sensor camera tuned for close-range interactivity (meaning it can pick up the movement of each finger). The kit includes an HD webcam, depth sensor and built-in dual-array microphones for capturing and recognizing voice, gestures and images.


On the hardware side using Intel® Atom™ processors as part of an IVI solution enables automotive developers to create a single, common hardware and software platform that:


  • Reduces development costs
  • Simplifies design complexity
  • Speeds time to market
  • Enables more choice and innovation in software
  • Simplifies product upgrades
  • Has strong interaction ability and compatibility with software.
  • Enables the use of low-power components that can fit into small footprint boards.

For example, Axiomtek’s NANO830 is equipped with the Cedar Trail platform, dual core Intel® Atom™ processor N2000/D2000 series and the Intel® NM10 Express chipset providing premium sound and delivering advanced features such as multiple audio streams.  At a mere 120 x 120 mm footprint, system developers have more opportunities for developing scalable and ultra-compact embedded applications and its low power consumption enables fanless designs.  The NANO830 provides IVI designers with a better choice for higher level graphics-intensive and system performance.  Designed to support the Intel® Atom™ processor D2550 running at 1.86 GHz it integrates Intel’s® Graphics Media Accelerator 3650 engine to support HD-rich content and provides an array of display interfaces including DisplayPort, VGA, and 24-bit dual channel LVDS with dual-view supported. Moreover, it supports a DDR3 SO-DIMM with a maximum of 4 GB of memory.


Similarly,  Eurotech's Catalyst CV (CPU-300-10) module delivers dual-core Intel® Atom™ processor N2x00 performance at CPU speeds up to 1.6GHz and extensive multimedia capability, all while maintaining a very low power profile. On this platform, Eurotech delivers up to 4GB of DDR3 DRAM memory, high-speed PCIe lanes, and USB ports.  Also employing the Intel NM10 Express chipset the Catalyst CV is a compact 67 x 100mm module for applications such as IVI where superior graphics performance is of high value. The Catalyst CV supports not only traditional graphical interfaces such as VGA and LVDS but also offers HDMI, full 1080p, DisplayPort with optional configuration and Blu-ray capabilities to support demanding graphical applications.


We mentioned earlier that iSuppli anticipates software as being a differentiator among brands in IVI systems. One example of this comes from another Intel Alliance partner, Clarinox.  Its Clarinox Blue Bluetooth solution is an embedded protocol stack software that has the ability to run multiple, simultaneous profiles with multiple smartphones. This combination of profiles enables the building of a state of the art automotive Bluetooth infotainment solution by providing access to the phone book of the driver or the passengers, streaming music to the car stereo system from any of the phones, display (or read via text-to-speech) of incoming SMS messages on the console, and to make and receive calls and announce details of the caller. It is an embedded protocol stack that also addresses the main issues confronted by engineers in Bluetooth projects: lack of flexibility, high level of complexity, and difficulty of debugging.


What’s next?  At the IDF 2013 in Beijing Intel® Sr. Technical Marketing Engineers Chris Norman and Horace Li noted that Intel® Alliance partner Red Flag was working on a Tizen 2.0 based IVI solution (Tizen is an open source standards based HTML5 platform for IVI and portable device applications).  According to Norman and Li the Red Flag Software release will include a traffic sign recognition engine, a voice recognition engine, navigation, and other proprietary components.

Finally, and without revealing too much we can safely say that devices built around the soon to be released 4th generation, 22-nm Intel® Core™ processor family (formerly codenamed "Haswell") will offer significant media and 3D performance improvement and will facilitate development of facial recognition, gesture interaction and voice assistance.  Stay tuned!


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Solutions in this blog:

Axiomtek Nano 0830

Eurotech Catalyst CV

Clarinox Blue


Related topics:

Axiomtek is an Associate Member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Eurotech is an Associate Member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Clarinox is a General Member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Red Flag Software is an Affiliate Member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Murray Slovick

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance