What's going to be the next consumer electronic device that's going to change the way consumers interact with information in their vehicles? The future of in-vehicle electronics will only get more complicated as time goes on and consumer electronics manufacturers develop products at even faster rates, leaving automakers in the dust even as they continue to try to play catch-up. What does the auto industry need to do to stay abreast of these rapid changes? Supplier Continental (www.continental-corporation.com) thinks its Multi Media Platform (MMP) will help the auto industry stay on top of what's happening in the consumer electronics sector, while maintaining a competitive cost position. MMP takes the basics of in-vehicle infotainment systems–the radio and navigation–and separates them from more advanced applications like video playback and Internet access in a plug-and-play architecture that can be easily upgraded on-the-fly as new technologies hit the market.
The basics of the platform are operated using the Microsoft Windows Automotive operating system running on dual-core processors–more commonly found in personal computer applications. Behind the head unit is the base circuit board, which has a dual core chip and Digital Signal Processing card to manage the basic/HD radio and media player options–USB 2.0, iPod, Bluetooth, etc.–along with the imbedded GPS navigation system. The up-level system adds another printed circuit board connected to the main board by a basic PCU connector. Both boards run Microsoft Auto, which allows for the plug-and-play capability. The second board includes another CPU and hard drive capable of running advanced 3D navigation graphics and a DVD driver, along with multi screen touch drivers. Continental says the ability to house the basics of the system on a separate board from the non-core functions will allow it to provide the most advanced technologies in the same package, all that is required is adding new technologies to another CPU which can plug into the base unit.
Continental says it plans to have the base MMP in production by the end of 2009, with the higher end units running off the line in mid-2010. The supplier says it has several OEMs interested in the technology, but refuses to confirm if any contracts have been signed for install in future vehicles.