Pity the poor automotive in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) designer stuck with having to create a balance between these two all but mutually exclusive requirements:1) satisfying the consumer’s expectation and appetite for the newest IVI features and functionality, including the ability to deploy, manage and update Apps; while 2) respecting the long development cycles and safety requirements required by law of automotive OEMs.
What is an engineer to do? Fortunately, technology can render assistance. One possible answer now emerging is to partition IVI software into two segments, with the individual ecosystems de-coupled and running on separate market-driven (1) and OEM-driven (2) schedules. In other words the car’s core, native IVI functions–like vehicle indicators or warnings and car security functions–would continue to be developed on the typical two to five -year automobile OEM cycle and remain subject to safety-critical coding practices. While at the same time automobile head unit integration with handheld devices like smartphones continues at breakneck speed, giving consumers the IVI feature they want most: a choice of what Apps to add whenever they so choose.
Based on HTML5, the newest version of the HyperText Markup Language--a way to enhance a text file with bits of code (markup) that describes the structure of the document--Tizen is well-suited to ongoing efforts to decouple in-car HMI-based functions. An open platform designed to work with a broad spectrum of devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to in-car systems and even TVs, Tizen also promises to lower the cost of deployment as developers are able to create applications that run on multiple systems (different car brands and various car models within a brand) without lengthy code re-writes. In this way Tizen supports the possibility of a single application store for a variety of automakers.
HTML was first developed in the late 80's in order to describe documents that linked to each other. Much has happened in the years that followed, as is evidenced by the fact that we’ve now reached version 5. HTML5 is built around WebApps, which are small focused applications that can run on a browser or as a mobile application. It has features like offline storage and the ability to handle data even when the app is no longer connected to the Internet. It also has the ability to detect and work with the location of the user and it provides rich media support including easy to implement audio and video elements.
With the help of HTML5 it is possible to embed not only video and audio but high quality drawings, charts, animation and many other rich content types without using any plugins or third party programs, as the functionality is built into the browser. This is important since most video and audio files are played through a plug-in like Flash, but not all browsers have the same plug-ins. With HTML5 developers can forget about a Flash Player and/or other third party media players, making video and audio truly accessible. HTML5 also will allow the end user to access cloud-based services through the web browser engine.
At the 2013 Tizen Developer Conference (TDC) in San Francisco in May, Matt Jones, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Senior Technical Specialist - Infotainment discussed an IVI proof of concept project using the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL, part of the Linux Foundation) Demonstrator, a runable IVI system available as both a VMWare image and installable on x86 hardware. Built on top of Tizen 1.0 and integrating GENIVI components (the GENIVI Alliance is a non-profit consortium with the goal of “bringing open source software into the car, starting with the most complicated car software system, the IVI unit”) it sports a custom HTML5 GUI (See Fig. 1).
Figure 1: HVAC display of the Jaguar Land Rover Tizen IVI demonstrator
The JLR IVI and remote vehicle interaction demo, which included participation by AGL, Feuer Labs, Symbio and Symphony Teleca, is based on a Tizen platform provided by Intel and Jaguar Land Rover. According to JLR’s Jones the HVAC system and Media Player proof of concept was developed over the course of just 2 ½ weeks during which time the team:
• Integrated the system into a vehicle, including CAN control
• Built out the Media Player and HVAC controls
• Built a backend server in the cloud
• Created a remote control website for the HVAC
Jones further said Jaguar Land Rover and Intel worked together to create a base platform that others can build on, including
• Tizen 1.0;
• An HTML5 based application environment;
•A server backend to push / pull apps; and
• Complete documentation
The target hardware was a Nexcom NDiS 166 (Fig.2), a Linux box employing an Intel® Core™ i5/i7 processor (codenamed Sandy Bridge) with Intel® Integrated Graphics and an Intel® QM67 Platform Controller Hub (PCH). Memory includes 2 x 240-pin DIMM sockets supporting up to 16GB (single socket max. is 8GB) of DDR3 1333/1066MHz non-ECC, un-buffered memory. The totally fanless NDiS 166 can easily support dual full-HD video. Other features include GigE, USB 2.0, SATA (1 x 2.5" SATA HDD Bay), Audio, WI-FI, VGA, GPS, HDMI and provision for a TV tuner and LAN modules.
Figure 2 The NexCom NDiS 166
The NDiS 166 platform has been tested using the Tizen 3.0-M1 codebase (on July 2nd the IVI team released Tizen 3.0-M1 for In-Vehicle Infotainment). . This is the first milestone image that builds upon the Tizen 3.0 codebase and is paving the way towards the 3.0-M2 (later in 2013) and the final Tizen 3.0 IVI release in the second half of 2014.
Tizen 3.0-M1 also has been tested on the NexCom VTC 7120-C4, which adopts the Intel® Celeron® Processor 847E (at 1.1GHz). In addition it offers dual LAN ports for redundancy and high speed interfaces for storage (2.5" SATA and a CFast slot). Storage is easily accessible from the front side for maintenance concerns. Furthermore, it offers support for two SIM card slots and support for the CAN bus as well as 4 digital inputs, 4 digital outputs and 4-channel PoE with IEEE802.3af.
As automotive companies adopt new Vehicle Relationship Management (VRM) tools and systems for software configuration and management, quality control and security integrity of the software have become of particular concern. That’s where companies such as Symphony Teleca Corp., headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., come in. The company, which participated in the Tizen IVI demonstrator as mentioned previously, offers remote software management, telematics and analytics capabilities to help its clients manage the convergence of software, the cloud and connected devices with the added goals of minimizing the cost of vehicle software maintenance, gaining insight into vehicle usage and enriching the possibilities for car owners through feature and application upgrades.
Symphony Teleca’s InSight Connect™ VRM is an end-to-end management solution that provides automotive grade, reliable, cost effective application and software provisioning and maintenance, integrated with the OEM's existing systems throughout the connected car lifecycle. InSight Connect’s flexible and modular structure also enables OEMs to extend and fully customize IVI functionality over time.
Despite its newness, the AGL Demonstrator has been declared a success, and JLR’s Jones indicated that the plan is to keep it going. The first order of business, he said, is to update it to the more recent Tizen 2.1 release. Following that, the plan is to work on several existing open source components that need to be integrated, including a navigation system, Bluetooth for hands-free telephony, Near-Field Communications (NFC) support, and media playback with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) support.
Solutions in this blog:
NexCom is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Symphony Teleca is a General member of the Alliance
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance