Issue: Sep 2015


Car radios being replaced ` by infotainment platforms



Car radios being replaced ` by infotainment platforms

by Nick Palmen

Infotainment platforms that seamlessly connect the home audio system to the car are already available. Soon they will also be able to take over the driving of the car as well.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Phil Eyler, EVP and President Infotainment Division at HARMAN to detail how the latest Rinspeed concept car is spearheading this development.

Phil Eyler: Based on the electrically-driven BMW i3 and developed by Rinspeed and HARMAN, the Budii concept car presents a vision of autonomous driving for couples, with a comfortable and luxurious interior for two. It is equipped with an intelligent HARMAN infotainment system and a tailor-made premium sound system from Harman Kardon.

The infotainment platform features next-generation navigation, entertainment, driver assistance and service functions. It also drives the instrument cluster, which provides not only information such as the driving range of the electric vehicle, but also features an autopilot mode for autonomous driving. Real-time sensor data in the vehicle is consolidated by the system and communicated with our Aha Cloud Platform through an integrated Telematics Communication module to “future-proof” the vehicle with services that update the infotainment system and provide real-time analytics to extend system functionality. This enables high speed data streaming and the car-to-X communication, which will be fundamental to autonomous driving. And last but not least, the infotainment system continuously learns the habits and preferences of its passengers to predict their actions.

AI: What does HARMAN’s next generation infotainment platform offer to OEMs and car owners?

PE: The Budii showcases what our premium scalable infotainment platform is capable of. Its intelligent connected navigation enables a new generation of driver usability and feature functionality. The platform also integrates industry-leading over-the-air (OTA) map and software update features, which seamlessly deliver infotainment firmware and map content updates to in-vehicle navigation systems. We also showcased at the Geneva Motor Show a new “floating” car data framework (FCD) utilizing “sensor fusion” which means it collects and aggregates camera, sensor and on-board diagnostics (OBD) data and integrates it with both on-board and off-board systems. This technology can be seen in the new Rinspeed Budii concept car.

AI: And the Smart Essential Platform?

PE: HARMAN’s broad range of infotainment solutions – from entry to high – offers automakers the Smart Essentials Platform to address a diverse range of international markets and vehicle classes at an affordable price, and to support the latest in smartphone connectivity such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The Integrated Essentials Cockpit merges that platform with proven instrument cluster technology to offer a state-of-the-art single-display solution. The Smart Essentials Infotainment Platform is adaptable to a variety of vehicles ranging from entry to lower mid segment, and provides automakers with the best feature-to-cost ratio, with a range of options that meet virtually all global market-specific requirements. We believe that this technology will replace radios completely over the next five years.

AI: What challenges and of course opportunities for infotainment do you see for HARMAN in autonomous driving?

PE: With our latest audio and infotainment innovations, we can demonstrate that the technology being put in the vehicle seemed like science fiction a few years ago, autonomous driving will definitely not be boring, but a truly unique entertainment experience.

AI: How do you bring advanced connectivity and cyber security in the Connected Car?

PE: Our platform enables rapid development of connected car apps while protecting the integrity of the system against cyber security threats. This new platform offers an HTML-5-based application environment for rapid development and deployment of rich connected apps and with the latest network security technologies. In addition, the system uses separate computing domains with a type 1 hypervisor securing critical vehicle functions from errant or malicious software for “automotive grade” robustness that is the first of its kind in the industry. Our acquisition of Redbend gives us our own proprietary hypervisor solution. Finally, we have also recently unveiled our “5+1” multi-layer cyber security model which is the most comprehensive approach to closing the vulnerabilities posed by the connected car.

AI: What are the benefits of Aha Analytics to the car owners, car manufacturers and insurances?

PE: Premiered in Europe at the 2015 Geneva show, Aha Cloud Services are designed to change how automakers andpartners measure quality, handle service and market to consumers. It provides the interactive platform that makes the full benefits of connected vehicles possible. First shown at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the new Aha Analytics Services platform is currently helping automakers in North America and Europe to validate and qualify vehicle performance during pre-production deployments. And last but not least, Aha Updates allows automakers to safely and cost-effectively update a variety of a vehicle’s software-driven applications and connected devices wirelessly. We have also recently formed a new division at HARMAN that will focus specifically on this new area of connected services, and we have recently purchased two companies (Symphony Teleca and Redbend) to help accelerate our market offerings in this area.

AI: How do you create individual listening zones for each passenger?

PE: Our Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) technology is an integrated audio entertainment solution that enables drivers and passengers to create sonic zones between individuals, so reducing the clutter of different sounds in the vehicle. To achieve personal listening zones over a broader audio bandwidth, it is necessary to introduce additional speakers positioned in closer proximity to the occupants’ heads. ISZ utilizes a vehicle’s existing audio system speakers with the addition of two small speakers equipped with micro speaker technology positioned in each headrest. In addition, HARMAN’s patent-pending Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers (EDPL) in the vehicle ceiling form a passive system. The complete system with standard car audio system, headrest and directional speakers provides highly satisfactory CTC (Cross Talk Cancellation) covering the entire audio frequency band. Signal-processing software produces directional sound fields and optimizes the audio signals used to activate each of the speakers. Each “zone” is activated and controlled by the respective passenger allowing complete control over their listening preferences.

AI: Does your HALOsonic noise management portfolio include any solutions for hybrid cars and EVs?

PE: Absolutely. Our external Electronic Sound Synthesis (eESS) technology – part of HARMANs HALOsonic suite of active noise management solutions – has been developed specifically for hybrid and electric vehicles. The silence of the electric powertrain deprives pedestrians of familiar acoustic cues warning them of an approaching vehicle. In order to improve pedestrian safety around EVs and hybrid cars, HARMAN developed eESS, creating the authentic sounds that drivers and pedestrians are familiar with, from combustion engines. The sound is projected from speakers at the front and rear of the vehicle, giving an early warning to pedestrians that the car is approaching. Volume and characteristics of the sound are also actively controlled to allow assessing the vehicle’s speed and location.

In addition to eESS, the HALOsonic suite entails Road Noise Cancellation (RNC), Engine Order Cancelation (EOC) and internal Electronic Sound Synthesis (iESS) technologies. iESS serves to synthesize unique sound signatures for vehicles to contour and accentuate the engine sound inside the cabin. RNC uses the principle of “anti-noise” to help reduce the low frequency broadband road noise in the car cabin, while EOC uses “anti-noise” to counteract the engine vibration induced noise.

AI: What car launches in Geneva showcased HARMAN’s branded Audio for car manufacturers?

PE: At Geneva Motor Show HARMAN showcased branded audio solutions with several OEM vehicles. For example, the Ferrari 488 GTB, the newest biturbo racer from Maranello, is equipped with a high-class 16 speaker JBL Professional audio system with a 1280-watt, 16-channel JBL Professional Class-D high-performance amplifier and QuantumLogic Surround. In addition Harman Kardon is bringing a premium sound system into the new Mercedes GLE Coupé as well as the AMG version of the CLA Shooting Brake. Both systems feature high-performance double voice-coil subwoofers and come with brand-new Class D amplifiers with Logic 7 surround audio processing.

AI: You offer HD audio streaming at home with Harman Kardon Omni products?

PE: Our Harman Kardon Omni products allow you to play back HD audio content in a lossless way through your multi-room home audio system. This ecosystem is now being extended to the car, as the vehicle is able to connect to the home audio network. The network treats the vehicle simply as if it were another room in the system. As listeners leave their homes to take a drive in their car, the audio playback follows them between the home and the vehicle – delivering a seamless listening experience



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