Automotive Industries

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Issue: Oct 2009


Open source platform for use in, in-vehicle infotainment or IVI products



AI interview Graham Smethurst, president and spokesman of the GENIVI Alliance and the general manager, infotainment and communications systems at the BMW Group

by Lenny Case

The automotive industry consortium GENIVI Alliance recently expanded its membership to 31 when XS Embedded, a subsidiary of Harman Becker Automotive Systems GmbH, joined the consortium along with KPIT Cummins and Mocean Labs. GENIVI was formed in March this year by a group of automotive majors including the BMW Group, Delphi, GM, Intel, Magneti-Marelli, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Visteon and Wind River. 

The GENIVI Alliance’s aim is promote the adoption of an open source platform for use in, in-vehicle infotainment or IVI products. GENIVI wants to lead the way by developing a reusable, open source IVI platform based on the LINUX operating system. According to the California-based alliance, the GENIVI platform is actual software code that is based on a common software architecture that is scalable across product lines and generations. This will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling automotive applications are developed and allow new business models to emerge in the in-vehicle infotainment market. GENIVI’s platform consists of LINUX-based core services, middleware, and open application layer interfaces that establish a foundation for automobile OEMs and suppliers on which to add their products and services.

“The continued growth in GENIVI Alliance’s membership underscores the strength in GENIVI’s open source approach to innovation and flexibility in commercialization options. These leading companies will significantly add to the GENIVI platform’s development of the non-differentiating elements of the IVI stack, and expand the commercial offerings available to the IVI industry,” said Graham Smethurst, GENIVI president, in a press release.

According to GENIVI, the benefits of its platform are that it increases IVI interchangeability across vehicle makes and models, broadens options for integrating and customizing solutions, and provides code transparency. And importantly, the GENIVI platform hopes to speed up time-to-market of IVI products and accelerate the pace at which new and compelling automotive applications are developed. According to the alliance, these factors will help the whole IVI ecosystem grow

The latest entrants to the GENIVI Alliance agree. “XS Embedded will leverage the GENIVI reference platform as it is being developed. As a leading provider of premium infotainment solutions, we have always supported open platform development. This strategy aligns with our goal to focus our innovation on higher level features and applications that help drive the industry as a whole forward,” said Dr Teichner, managing director of XS Embedded and CTO of Harman Becker Automotive Systems GmbH. 

Adds Anup Sable, VP, automotive line of business at KPIT Cummins: “KPIT Cummins sees a perfect alignment between its own and GENIVI’s vision of a reusable and scalable platform for IVI products. GENIVI’s collaborative development approach allows infotainment solution providers such as KPIT Cummins to create unique and differentiated IVI products and services that will facilitate reusability, thus reducing time to market and cost.” 

IVI is one of the most challenging fields in the automotive space. It encompasses automotive infotainment products and services including music, news, Internet and multimedia, navigation and location, and telephony. Automobile manufacturers and their suppliers must develop, test, deploy and support these IVI products and services across multiple automobile models and generations, which is becoming increasingly complex and expensive as the rate of technology innovation and number of applications continues to expand exponentially says GENIVI. 

Automotive Industries spoke to Graham Smethurst, president and spokesman of the GENIVI Alliance and the general manager, infotainment and communications systems at the BMW Group. 

AI: Tell us a little about the open infotainment platform for the automotive industry.
Vehicle Infotainment product development and maintenance represents huge investments for each of the players in the value chain. As the customer demand for functionality continues to grow and price pressure intensifies we at GENIVI felt it was time to take a radically different approach to managing the challenges. The GENIVI platform will eliminate the current duplication in the non-differentiating portions of the infotainment product architecture, hence enabling a re-focusing on the added value content for the customer. To make this clear, a significant proportion of an infotainment product today, although essential, does not differentiate one automaker solution from another. Despite this, each automaker independently and repeatedly funds its development. Through GENIVI its members will create a common platform upon which they are each able to differentiate.

AI: What is GENIVI’s relationship with the AUTOSAR and FlexRay consortiums? 

GENIVI has been established specifically to address the challenge of in-vehicle infotainment product development. Infotainment is so complex because of its diverse scope; it must encompass the functionality delivered by the latest consumer gadget whilst providing a robust vehicle network interface. GENIVI intends to collaborate with the communities best placed to support each aspect of an infotainment solution, and alliances like AUTOSAR and FlexRay are the logical source of the vehicle infra-structure services. There is already a significant overlap between GENIVI and AUTOSAR membership and GENIVI will adopt AUTOSAR solutions wherever possible and integrate them into the GENIVI stack. 

AI: What kind of impact do you think the GENIVI platform will have on the IVI industry? 

I expect GENIVI to enable a re-profiling of who does what within the value chain. By opening up, both technically and commercially, it will enable increased competition by creating alternatives. This is essential if we are to stay on par with the consumer sector. For example, by making the GENIVI reference implementation available in open source, new and existing developers will be able to create new and exciting features that they are then able to offer to automakers and 1st tiers for commercialization on the basis of a consistent platform. GENIVI is unique in having eliminated all single point dependencies in the value chain for the delivery of an infotainment product. The close alignment of the GENIVI platform to the consumer ecosystem and the increased choices during product development will move the IVI industry away from its proprietary origins. 

AI: Tell us a little about how the GENIVI Alliance came into being and the decision to base the platform on the LINUX OS. 

The GENIVI Alliance is a result of the auto industry recognizing that infotainment is not an area of the car that it can completely control. Unlike body, chassis and powertrain systems many customer expectations for infotainment are set by the major consumer sector players. The challenge that faces the auto industry is how to track the consumer trends and deliver the functionality in a way that is complementary to the in car experience, and on a time scale and cost that is relevant. Once you have accepted this, it no longer makes sense to work in isolation; it becomes essential to align with communities and technologies that will support product development into the future. The use of Linux, and GENIVI's participation in open source was a direct result of this need. 

AI: What kind of reaction has GENIVI had so for from the automotive industry? 

Infotainment development in the automotive industry is a challenge that faces all automakers and involved 1st tier suppliers. The very pragmatic approach being taken by GENIVI and this common need to find a solution has been the key to establishing the Alliance. GENIVI will soon be 6 months old, and continues to attract high quality new members at an impressive rate. What is particularly encouraging is that GENIVI membership is a healthy mix of both strong traditional automotive sector players and companies that until now have been predominantly consumer sector based. This interaction between automotive and consumer is what GENIVI set out to achieve, and will be a key factor in further strengthening GENIVI's credibility as the basis for competitive product development. 

AI: How soon do you see IVI products based on the GENIVI platform making their commercial debuts? 

I cannot give you detailed timings, but I can say that GENIVI is requested by each of the GENIVI automakers in their next generation product specifications


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