QNX the software that underpins many of the infotainment systems found in today's vehicles is getting an upgrade to offer 4G LTE connectivity and HTML 5. We visited QNX's booth here at CES 2013 to see how the system functions and what its advanced features could mean for future vehicles.
QNX has a history of demonstrating its system in some of the most desirable cars in the world starting with its QNX Corvette. Last year the company debuted its QNX Porsche running the original Car software. This year, however, QNX went a bit further with the debut of its QNX Bentley Continental GT.
We previously reviewed a 2013 Bentley Continental GTC V8, and while the vehicle itself was a work of art, its infotainment system left much to be desired. QNX's Car 2.0 platform fixes that issue by strapping the vehicle with one of Texas Instruments' DLP curved projector displays and a customizable digital instrument cluster.
Both displays are powered by their own computer systems that communicate with each other via QNX's network bridge. For example when we selected a song on the Bentley's main display, we were able to view the song's album art on the vehicle's digital instrument cluster.
The curved display sports an multifunction optical touch input, which enables manufacturers to easily mix physical dials with the touch screen to create a more intuitive interface. In the Bentley, the optical touch dial features the same metal knurling you'd find surrounding any of the automaker's other dials. In the center of the dial sits a simulated Breitling clock.
Infrared sensors around the dial can detect when you bring your hand up to the screen and will automatically display additional touch screen options for the media player, Web browser, navigation system and climate control system. Switch to the media player, and the optical touch input dial becomes a volume knob. Bring up the climate control system, and the dial becomes a temperature controller.
Over on the Bentley's instrument cluster, users can browse their smartphone contacts, control the audio system and more. We were particularly impressed with the instrument cluster's bright, sharp images and easy-to-read text. It was the instrument cluster that served as the best example of the type of power QNX Car 2.0's HTML 5 functionality can offer.
Using one of the Bentley's steering wheel-mounted scroll wheels, we were able to quickly switch between weather information, audio settings and a video stream from the Bentley's backup camera, without having to sit through a loading screen. QNX representatives say that Car 2.0's HTML 5 functionality will also allow OEM's to display feeds from four different apps on the curved display at once including navigation, media controls, video and more.
QNX's Car 2.0 is an exceptional platform that should help OEM's offer increasingly interesting connected vehicle systems. Unfortunately, the implementation of the system we saw in QNX's Bentley is still in its early stages. Still, the company's Car 2 platform proves that infotainment offerings have a bright future ahead of them.