By on January 6, 2015

MirrorLink VW CES

You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at CES 2015 with a demo in its e-Golf. The system also works with MirrorLink, found on smartphones like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Sony Xperia Z. Other demos involving the EV itself included its Intelligent Charge wireless charging system, and the Perfect Parking autonomous parking feature.

Sticking with VW, future BlackBerry spinoff QNX announced it would partner up with the brand in providing its technology for new 2015 models, including the Touareg, Passat and Golf. The system supports 3D Google Earth and Google Street View, and offers real-time traffic information, reverse camera display, and four-zone climate controls among its array of features. QNX is also in use by parent company Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche brands.

QNX also unveiled its latest concept car at CES 2015. Based upon the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the Snapdragon 602A-powered QNX Quattroporte Technology Concept Car introduces the company’s take on autonomous driving. The concept uses ultrasonic radar, LIDAR and cameras to navigate and anticipate obstacles, as well as provide warning to those inside via its high-res touchscreen display from the CLA 45 AMG QNX Concept. QNX also brought an updated version of its Jeep Wrangler Technology Concept Car to demo the company’s technologies via a virtualized driving environment.

Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone. Valeo’s InBlue technology uses Bluetooth to not only accomplish said task, but to also unlock doors, allow for secure vehicle sharing, and access vitals like fuel level and where your car is among the many silver-backed crossovers in the mall parking lot. InBlue is also compatible with smartwatches, and could hit the market as early as 2016.

Finally, 100 select BMW i3 owners in northern California will take part in a pilot program by Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW to study electric-vehicle charging time management, with the aim of improving the grid and reducing total cost of ownership of EVs. The target is to give PG&E 100 kilowatts of capacity at any time, even while groups of EVs recharge their batteries; BMW will determine when an i3 is charged, though owners can override via the i3’s smartphone app upon notification. Each participant will be paid a $1,000 incentive for their time.

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30 Comments on “Connected-Vehicle Tech Takes Center Stage At 2015 CES...”

  • avatar

    Things would be so much easy if Apple, Android and other smartphone makers – not worth naming – could come up with standardized connectivity to existing car tech. Bluetooth A2DP should be standad in all vehicles. People who think thy’ll be able to control their iPod wirelessly and still have access to all features are dreaming.

    There’s really no reason that all car radios shouldn’t be able to access the smartphone via tethering to get Nav Traffic and infotainment features without having to pay an extra subscription.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, you’re back! Welcome!

    • 0 avatar

      “Bluetooth A2DP should be standad in all vehicles. People who think thy’ll be able to control their iPod wirelessly and still have access to all features are dreaming.”

      A2DP is a very simple protocol. All the features depend on various APIs and services much, much more complicated than A2DP.

      “There’s really no reason that all car radios shouldn’t be able to access the smartphone via tethering to get Nav Traffic and infotainment features without having to pay an extra subscription.”

      There’s a few issues:
      * You would need a new interface, because what works on a phone when you’re sitting does not work when your attention is split and you’re driving, or at least aiming, a car hurtling down the road
      * You would need an API to get at these services. This is an issue, because there’s at least four platforms (iOS, Android, WP and BB10) and several versions of services on those platforms (iOS 6,7 and 8; Android pre4, post-4, with and without Google Play Services; BlackBerry pre-10 and 10)

      That second point makes this endeavour nearly impossible as such a service doesn’t exist. The best you could hope for is a slice of the market (say, iOS 7 and Google Play Services) and a message-passing service between an in-car system and your device. Which is what Android Car and Apple’s CarPlay are supposed to do.

      I wish there was a better way, but this whole stack is a giant clusterf*

    • 0 avatar

      Bigtruck, this is perhaps the smartest post I’ve read from you.

      I think that smartphones should have standard connectivity all around, no reason for brand-specific plugs. If I can use Ferrari wheels on a Volvo why not an Iphone 4 accessory on a 6?

      • 0 avatar

        Do phone OEMs follow an industry standard? Serious question because I have yet to hear of a true standard.

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          Sorry in advance if I’m remembering this wrong, but I think I heard years ago that when android and blackberry and everyone else agreed on the micro-usb charger, apple had initially agreed as well, and pulled out last minute. I kinda get the feeling that any one company that profits off unique charger/adapter sales isn’t going to have much motivation to get along.

          Besides, that sounds communist. /s

        • 0 avatar

          Bluetooth is a standard, and Enhanced Bluetooth allows more control of audio streaming (with A2DP), but for the most part, there is no control standard or info sharing standard beyond tethering WiFi (another standard) in some cars to access the internet.

          They just wanna make us pay for everything.

          There’s no reason I should have to spend more for internet in the car when I have an iPhone with an unlimited data plan.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve said the same in several threads. Give me an AM/FM radio, a mount for my cell phone, and Bluetooth. My Highlander is just AM/FM CD radio so I added a simple Bluetooth adapter and when my phone came with a vehicle mount as a bonus.

        I’ve got my navigation/Pandora/I(heart)radio/hands free calling right there. I’m happier with my in-vehicle entertainment than I’ve ever been. I don’t need my car to be a wifi hot spot as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Apple doesn’t seem to like industry-standard anything. They appear to want to lock their customers into an Apple-only universe, with Apple-only connections, ports and other technologies that drive up the prices their customers have to pay.

  • avatar

    Why don’t automakers include a docking mechanism for an iPad mini or Android tablet (which they can bundle with the car) and be done with it? Why keep re-inventing the proverbial wheel (and doing a horrible job at it)?

    Google and Apple both have done an excellent job building an OS with great response time, good voice recognition, and have provided decent interface libraries to build apps. Automakers keep building systems with horrible response time, useless voice recognition, and awful interfaces.

    • 0 avatar

      You do have one valid point here; hard-wired display systems will inevitably suffer from the lack of timely updates that private devices typically can receive. It would be much easier all around for the car to be able to access privately-owned devices through bluetooth and apps rather than trying to put it all into the car.

      BUT… Then the dealerships wouldn’t be able to charge the owner an arm-and-a-leg to repair those systems–systems now critical to the operation of the car in many cases.

      • 0 avatar

        I also wonder if real or perceived liabilities come into play. On proprietary systems, they can control what you can and cannot do when moving, parked, etc. If some idiot is able to play Candy Crush on the car’s screen, they inevitably will be as they t-bone a school bus.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s better in this case to invert control, and have the more frequently replaced and updated device (the phone) use the less frequently updated device (the car) as a set of hardware and a dumb display.

    • 0 avatar

      Give the cost of these infotainment units just giving a customer an iPad mini would be so much cheaper and easier for all involved. These new systems are showing that the OEMs are slowly giving up so there is hope for the day when your radio/NAV option will just be a $50 adapter plus a $20 app so you can BOYD (bring your own device).

      As for liabilities they have already solved that. The built in GPS recognizes the speed of the vehicle and turns off text input. Waze (awesome app BTW) already does this, you can’t enter text while moving. Currently its only a warning dialog (easy to dismiss) but the app could fully enforce this and have the unit automatically only accept voice commands.

    • 0 avatar

      “Why don’t automakers include a docking mechanism for an iPad mini or Android tablet (which they can bundle with the car) and be done with it?”

      Supportability and NIH.

  • avatar

    That looks like a cousin of the head unit that’s in the latest Volkswagen Golf. It’s a shame that I won’t be able to swap that one into my Jetta SportWagen, and replace the durable but underwhelming RNS-510…

    • 0 avatar

      It is Gen II of the current MIBS system in Mk7 Golfs. We have a ’15 TDI with the Fender setup, and while it sounds great, the head unit is a turd. Horribly low-res, and s-l-o-w. Thankfully it’s non-nav so it’s only a minor annoyance. The new unit we’ll get here in the USA will have a 6.5″ display (up from 5.8″), twice the resolution of the current display, and about 2.5x more CPU power. Plus of course CarPlay and Android support. Should be a really nice upgrade. There might be a ’16 Golf R in my future, and this helps its chances a bit.

      That RNS-510 is a dog with fleas, you have my sympathies!

  • avatar

    FUN FACT: QNX is also an operating system used in nuclear reactors.


    “Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone.”

    Yup and so will hackers, NSA, and other Western intelligence agencies (GHCQ, Mi6, Mossad). Yay!

    • 0 avatar

      Even if I could start my car remotely, I wouldn’t. Absolutely horrible for the engine, and the environment. Not that I am in any way a tree hugger, but still…

      Now turning on the butt heat remotely is something I might be interested in.

      And GM already has remote starting via phone app.

    • 0 avatar

      QNX is indeed a fine embedded operating system. But since it isn’t exactly built for end-user graphical (and audible) interaction, using it in an infotainment system is a questionable choice. It requires an awful lot of work to build the front-end, and no automaker can afford the effort Apple and Google put into their front-ends.

      • 0 avatar

        I completely agree, I too wonder why it was chosen over an embedded version of Linux. The only two reasons I can come up with are: (1) preference to a commercial company for support/security etc vs open source and (2) better support/availability for third party drivers vs Linux (or having to develop Linux specific drivers)

        • 0 avatar

          “I too wonder why it was chosen over an embedded version of Linux.”

          rtLinux isn’t bad, but QNX (and VxWorks) give you that wonderful “one throat to choke” which is so essential in high-litigation-risk industries like automotive.

          That said, QNX is very good at this sort of thing. Linux had this sort of thing bolted on, where QNX is designed to be RT from the ground up.

          I’d be fine with Pi+Arduino, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate lawyer who would be.

  • avatar

    I thought GM’s OnStar allowed you to perform certain functions using a smartphone (including starting the car). Am I incorrect?

  • avatar

    >> Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone.

    I have that now – at least the climate control part. I can start and stop the climate control using the internet so I don’t have to be within bluetooth or rf range. It’s direct from the manufacturer and not an aftermarket thing either. Nothing new. The car emails and/or texts me when it’s switched on, so if anyone hacked it, I’d know.

  • avatar

    I don’t think Blackberry is going to spin off QNX until the bitter end. That’s one of its brightest spots.

    Gotta wonder though, if these QNX systems even support Blackberry 10. The irony if they don’t.

    • 0 avatar

      Someone will end up buying QNX at an asset sale if BlackBerry implodes. I would bet on Wind River (VxWorks) if I were hopeful, and some bottom-feeding conglomerate (CA/Symantec/Oracle/HP/IBM) if I were pessimistic.

  • avatar

    If I’m going to have a screen for system, the ideal setup would be a screen that mirrors whatever is on my phone.

    I don’t need a touch screen – something that forces me to take my eyes off the road to operate a control.

    I don’t need the car to store a phonebook – my phone has one. I don’t need my car to provide its own voice system. I recently rented a Cruze for a week, and whatever that system is that they had just gets in the way. I don’t need the car to manage anything.

    Just give me a bluetooth button that calls up Siri. She can already transcribe my texts, she not only knows everyone in my phonebook, but has learned to pronounce their names. She can change the streaming radio channel, play any artist or playlist I want, and give me directions wherever I need to go. It would be nice to have the phone’s nav screen mirrored on a larger device, but that could be done with something as simple as an HDMI input.

    Please stop trying to adopt the latest and greatest – just futureproof my stereo!

  • avatar

    I still think the best car connectivity is charging up my phone with the lighter socket, the radio gives me enough entertainment.

  • avatar

    I can tell I’m getting old as a lot of this new tech stuff seems to be a bit useless or trivial to me.

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