Adding Connectivity to the Car


The connected car takes many forms, because today there are a variety of options for integrating connectivity into the vehicle. In addition to preinstalled systems, aftermarket devices are hitting the market to help consumers attain the solutions for connectivity they desire in any vehicle.

One technology aimed at both worlds is MirrorLink. Developed by the CCC (Car Connectivity Consortium),, MirrorLink is a technology standard for controlling a nearby smartphone from the steering wheel or via dashboard buttons and screens. The standard also takes advantage of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to deliver services to the driver.

Overall, MirrorLink wants to provide drivers with a safe and convenient way to access their smartphones while in the car. Voice commands can be used with the system, and VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is used to replicate the smartphone display on the car’s navigation screen. In this way, the driver is not struggling to use a handheld phone with a small screen while in the vehicle.

The CCC’s MirrorLink is used in the just-released Sony XAV-series MirrorLink aftermarket vehicle head units. The two devices—XAV-601BT and XAV-701HD—are the first MirrorLink-certified aftermarket head units available in U.S. stores. The head units offer features such as detachable touchscreens, dual USB ports, passenger app control, and advanced-response user interfaces.

Taka Noguchi, business manager for the Mobile Electronics division of Sony Electronics, says infotainment, communications, and safety are all functions of the devices. “(The) smartphone is a primary hub for entertainment and communication. Integration to car audio will bring entertainment/hands-free talk to the car, but safely by providing full control from the head unit,” he says.
The increasing presence of smartphones in our lives makes them a useful connection point for the car. “The smartphone is becoming an everyday music source,” Noguchi says. “This will make everyone’s driving life easier and more convenient.”

Automakers are also working to integrate MirrorLink into their vehicles. The CCC has a testing and certification process for applications used with MirrorLink that will be introduced later this year. “Consumers have high quality standards when buying a car,” says Alfred Tom, the CCC’s Ecosystem Workgroup Chair. “Automakers need to make sure the technology is safe and reliable.”

As connected car solutions become more popular, it’s likely the market will see more MirrorLink-enabled products in the U.S. in the coming months.

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June/July 2014
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