In-car systems at Mobile World Congress: Ford’s Sync 2 & Qualcomm BlackBerry’s QNX
When we talk about BlackBerry, we think about phones and BBM. However the one component we don’t seem to talk about is BlackBerry’s QNX system.
In my previous QNX article I had written about how BlackBerry’s QNX is powering up 60% of the world’s vehicle infotainment systems and so it was no surprise to see QNX system being displayed at Mobile World Congress.
Whilst BlackBerry did not have their own stand at the event, Qualcomm was showing their BlackBerry QNX in-car touchscreen dashboard running the Snapdragon Automotive systems placed inside a Mercedes Benz AMG.
When using your BlackBerry 10 devices you are able to not only able connect your phone’s address book to your car but are able to have a much tighter integration utilising the phone’s facilities.
The system allows the user to browse email and SMS messages and even have these read out to you so that you dont have to figit with your phone.
The QNX creates a Wi-Fi in the car so users can share the internet connection as well as stream media to the car’s audio system. This also makes streaming of music and other types of media possible
Using the powerful Snapdragon processor, the QNX software brings a new level of clarity to 3D navigation system.
There is also the virtual mechanic which presents information about the car itself in an easy to read non-technical way. You can even schedule a service appointment and receive remote diagnostic about your car.
Ford Sync 2
At Mobile World Congress, I spoke to Ford’s chief technical officer Paul Mascarenas about how Ford sees their connected vehicles “at Ford we see the connected vehicle in the broadest sense”. Mascarenas explained that Ford sees connected vehicles as being able to use your mobile device inside the vehicle, to being able to check on the state of the charge of your electric vehicle , to connecting drivers to their surroundings, to vehicle-to-vehicle communications and “even extend to wearable technology where being able to lock/ unlock the car and change climate control can be done done via an App worn on the smartphone”
Ford’s new Sync 2 system was demonstrated at MWC which showed a sleek interface on an 8-inch touchscreen that allows the user to control it via voice commands. Simply pushing a button and saying “I’m hungry” would bring up the Point of Interests around you that are listed under the restaurant category. The Sync 2 system also allows you to set the car temp by saying “Temperature 21 degrees” and has partial-string matching ability so that you don’t have to remember “Pitbull featuring Kesha” but can just say “Play Pitbull” to see a list of all items with the word Pitbull in them. This also works for names in the address book such as “Call Call Jo” will bring up both Jo and Joanne.
Sync 2 comes with a navigation system which is able to display 3D buildings and landmarks making it easier to orientate yourself based on these visual clues.
QNX for FORD ?
Ford’s system run on the Microsoft Platform however there have been several reports that Ford would be leaving the Microsoft platform in favour for QNX. According to the official spokesperson: “This news is not true. Microsoft is a long term partner of Ford.“
A recent Bloomberg report states that “people briefed on the matter” confirmed that Ford will indeed be changing over to QNX.
“Using QNX will be less expensive than licensing Microsoft technology and will improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system, the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public, said Feb. 22.“
At the rate that Ford is forging ahead with its Technology, this move would not be surprising. Ford’s vision is to allow App developers to take advantage of the vehicle’s system and create innovative apps to be used as part of the driving experience.
From a South African context, why not have an App inside Ford’s Sync system that notifies the local security company that you are almost home so they can meet you at the gate ? Now that is a localised application with local relevance !
Now that stays inline with Ford’s motto: eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.