Issue: Aug 2013


Connecting the urbanSWARM



by Nick Palmen

Platform solutions that enable automakers to add smartphone connectivity into every vehicle and deliver carcentric Apps and services through the Android platform were showcased by global audio and infotainment group HARMAN at the spring Geneva Motor Show. Alongside premium infotainment technologies that combine augmented navigation with gesture control, high speed networking and brilliant graphics, HARMAN also demonstrated QuantumLogic Surround 3D, the automotive industry’s first three-dimensional surround sound experience based on QuantumLogic technology.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Michael Mauser, Harman Executive Vice President and Co-President, Infotainment and Lifestyle how the company’s cloud platform could revolutionize Megacity transport.

Mauser: The electric driven “microMAX” vehicle developed in cooperation between HARMAN and Rinspeed utilizes HARMAN’s Cloud Platform and key infotainment technologies to revolutionize city transport with the vision of an “urbanSWARM” mobility concept This vision is based on our Cloud Platform where we are combining the mobility concept for what we call an “urbanSWARM” community. It integrates “connected car” features which will allow easy access to navigation functions in real time. Using the information from all vehicles connected to the swarm, the system can modify the routes dynamically to account for current traffic. To amplify the driving experience, the “swarm” vehicle incorporates a special App which constantly updates all road users who are looking for transportation options and are part of the selected community access to the concept. Being connected to the cloud, the interactive system displays information about routes, destinations, travelling speeds and occupancy of all vehicles - creating an efficient, flexible and convenient transport system with maximum capacity - without wait times, without prior planning and without detours.

AI: At Geneva you presented Quantum Logic Surround 3D, the first true three-dimensional surround sound. What does it bring in terms of experience to the customer?

Mauser: Right now every car has the same problem. Cars are very small spaces. But, we want to provide the consumer with an immersive experience that sounds like they are in a big, natural, live environment. Quantum Logic Surround 3D helps us achieve this goal. It makes the car feel bigger. It’s a completely new experience, and very different from what was done in the past. It makes the car feel bigger.

AI: Is it all about software?

Mauser: Software is a critical component, but the key is HARMAN’s deep technical understanding of acoustics and systems integration into the car. The location and design of the loudspeakers, the acoustic tuning of the system, and the SW algorithm all work together to create an optimal sound.

AI: From an integration perspective, what is the preferred solution?

Mauser: We have had different feedback from the OEMs. Some want to use QLS 3D as a unique selling point for the next cars. They want it to be prominent, so the customer can show it off. On the other side we have different customers that want to have it integrated / invisible, focused on the overall sonic improvement and sensation. We have all the experience and the expertise in-house to do both. One of the key elements here is the need to identify the right places for the speakers long before the first physical prototype of the car or the system is built because it is at this stage where we have the freedom to optimally style and position the speakers. As soon as we get the very first mechanical CAD model from our customer we can simulate the dispersion of sound, make sound quality measurements and determine where to place the speakers. During the phase when our customer is designing the body-in-white we are already helping them finding the perfect position and even planning the perfect structure. It is this holistic engineering approach, supporting our customers during the complete development cycle of a car that is ultimately safeguarding this unique QLS 3D listening experience.

AI: What are the benefits of your Entry-Level Connected Radio?

Mauser: In addition to supporting a range of external user devices, including USB, SD, MP3 players including iPod, and a wide range of Smartphones, consumers can easily connect their Smartphones with the head unit in-vehicle. The head unit then uses the driver’s preferred navigation App straight from the phone. It also offers clear benefits to automakers: At the same cost of basic radio OEMs can add Smartphone connectivity to their systems. In addition, OEMs can integrate access to HARMAN’s AHA Radio, the first interactive platform that organizes web-based content into personalized, live and on-demand radio stations that consumers can access anywhere. Connected Radio also offers turn-byturn navigation via a Smartphone App, with spoken and visual instructions, and hands-free phoning via Bluetooth.

AI: Let’s talk about HARMAN’s App-centric infotainment platform. What OS do you use and what are its key functions?

Mauser: We are using Android for Automotive operating system to bring car-centric apps and services safely into the car. And to ensure best performance and stability, we combine this flexible eco-system with the proven QNX operating system. This guarantees the best of two worlds – flexibility and extensibility on one hand, and automotive-grade reliability on the other. Of course, our Automotive Android system also works with Apple Products. The system accommodates both iPod and Siri integration. The HARMAN App-centric infotainment platform helps drivers connect to their digital worlds – the home, the office, friends and the cloud – in ways that are easy, fun, personalized and intuitive. It is easy for drivers to access content on their iPods, Smartphones and iPads by providing wired and wireless interfaces that are optimized for the driving environment. This includes media and applications that are running on consumer mobile devices, as well as those connecting via cloud-based services like Siri and Google Voice Search. To protect the vehicle bus and other critical features, HARMAN has created a virtualized platform where the core and car-centric apps and services run on the proven QNX OS, and the User Interface and downloaded applications run in the Android for Automotive environment.

AI: What are HARMAN’s solutions for tomorrow’s premium infotainment system?

Mauser: Last year we started with an interactive head-up display with augmented navigation, touch-free gesture controls and the latest connectivity options. The concept is based around a “multi-display” Infotainment System where the in-dash center console, instrumentation cluster and head-up display are fully integrated. The new premium infotainment platform offers richer safety functions, assistance and connectivity features. It’s the next logical step for us to take. The automotive sector is moving to ever greater in-car connectivity and multimedia, and we are ideally positioned to make this technology part of the smart, responsive control systems in an advanced head-up display.

AI: How does HARMAN Cloud Platform enable automakers to future-proof their cars for tomorrow’s internet?

Mauser: The latest HCP product “Insight” running on the HARMAN Cloud Platform enables OEMs to get a car insight, i.e. to see how their car performs, as well as to run remote diagnostics. Furthermore HCP enables OEMs to capture in-depth intelligence on how their vehicles are being used in the field. What kind of connectivity are the drivers using? Are they using Bluetooth, USB, do they use CD or DVD? Based on this functionality and with the strength of the cloud we just use one simple interface for either AHA or other applications. We are highly flexible and can add content without changing hardware. The key is not only to help OEMs to future-proof their car, but also to bring OEMs closer to their customers (drivers).

AI: What is next for HARMAN?

Mauser: We announced the launch of the new Infotainment Services unit. In the future we are going to have our traditional business in which we are market leader, and we will also be in an aftermarket application service business. We have a challenging target in front of us. In combination with AHA and “Insight” we can open a HARMAN or white label Apps store. This is a new business segment for us which includes aftermarket products for hardware upgrades. Why should a five year old BMW which is still a nice car not have connectivity? With that functionality and the new business unit we are looking at other channels and possibilities. We have 15 million cars equipped with our systems on the road, alone and we are trying to tap into other markets with this kind of functionality and connectivity. What we are also aiming at now is rolling out services for functionality through the cloud

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