Intel and Volkswagen have been working on standards basedcommunications that let devices like the Ultra Mobile device interactseamlessly with cars. Wireless connections between the Ultra Mobile devices andthe car's video display system let the driver receive point of interestinformation to the dashboard display, accessing streaming media from theinternet via a ClearWire WiMax connection and listen to local music stored onthe Ultra Mobile device. The demonstration also included sending two separatestreams to the driver and passenger head rests to let back seat passengersenjoy video with Bluetooth head sets. The Ultra Mobile In-Car demonstrationshowcased the full rich power of the pc along with full broad band connectionto create a valuable in-car navigation and flexible entertainment experience.
I spent quite a bit of time at the Intel Developer Forum Technology Showcase last week learning more about Intel's vision for Ultra Mobile devices.I was able to get behind the wheel and had Eric Jensen of the Volkswagen teamwalk me through the more technical aspects of the Ultra Mobile In-Cardemonstration.
Consider that the product life cycle for an automobile is significantlylonger than consumer electronics and PCs. It takes about 3 years to develop anew car design and then for it to be profitable, the typical product run for adesign is about 9 years. To put things into context the average car on the roadwas designed in the late 90s when people were just transitioning from audiocassette to CD (the iPod was just a twinkle in Mr. Jobs eye). Personalinformation was probably stored in a Palm and most movies were watched on aVCR.
The Intel/Volkswagen team had to take this longerlifecycle into account. The idea of connecting to an Ultra Mobile device allowsfor the replacement of a customer device without having to worry about the hightech components of the car being outdated after you buy it. The Ultra Mobiledevice can be upgraded and integrated into the car. The team even considered thelikelihood of multiple Ultra Mobile devices connected to the same car. Mr.Jensen was even bullish on the future of local wireless networks. Bluetooth 2.0is robust enough to support high fidelity audio and wide band Bluetooth isevolving to allow streaming video. I was reminded that this is a prototype andthe final configuration options are still under consideration, but much of thetechnology used is available today for after market integration. It's just notyet standardized across automotive and consumer electronics companies.
Open standards for mobile devices to vehicle integrationis well underway and is focused on providing seamless connectivity using wiredand wireless interfaces, extending the capabilities of both device and car andensuring optimal user experience with minimal driver distraction. Safety is ahuge concern for the team so they were very explicit in stating that the UltraMobile device integration would not connect outside devices to the vehicleperformance or safety systems. Meaning you won't be able to tune your engine oradjust anti-lock break performance with your Ultra Mobile. As Martha would say,"That's a good thing."