Automotive multimedia concept embraces Android, tablet computer

September 09, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Ingredients such as cloud computing, tablet computer hardware and open-source operating systems today are ubiquitous in the consumer corner of the IT world. Now IT services provider Tieto is about to bring all these ingredients into the automotive environment.

Tieto has created a demonstrator for a next-generation automotive infotainment system that radically breaks with the traditions of in-car infotainment. The system works similar to a tablet computer - and it runs under the open-source operating system Android. Instead of knobs and buttons, the system is controlled through a touch-screen interface. Just like on any tablet computer, functionality can be enhanced by installing additional apps. 

Aiming at battery electric vehicles in the first place, the system is provided with apps specifically designed for this type of cars, such as a dynamic battery management app displaying the remaining driving range and the distance to go to the respective destination. Future apps could include the directions towards the next available charging station or car-sharing related information. Drivers (users) can also install their own private apps. The system also links the vehicle to the cloud: Some of the apps offered or under development represent only a front-end client while the application logic runs on a remote server in the cloud.

Tieto utilizes a Texas Instruments hardware platform jointly developed with California-based Missing Link Electronics (MLE). The system is powered by a dual-core processor running at 1 GHz. In addition, standard components for mobile devices have been used for the Tieto platform in order to keep energy consumption at a low level. The system communicates to the outside world through a number of standard interfaces such as WiFi, Bluetooth, USB and MicroSD.

The platform is the result of the StreetSccoter research consortium with the participation of the Aachen RWTH technical university. The company plans to show it for the first time at the upcoming IAA automotive exhibition (Frankfurt, Germany, September 15 to 25).