Powerful multi-format middleware systems are needed to manage the increasingly complex flow of data and formats as OEMs continue to differentiate their products by the quality and functionality of their infotainment systems.
Cinemo is recognized as a global leader in high performance and automotive grade multimedia playback, streaming, media management, connectivity and cloud access middleware. The company’s middleware is both CPU and operating system agnostic as well as being highly optimized for low power and low footprint devices. Cinemo's unified middleware solutions decode, play, render, stream, manage and index virtually any file, disc, connected device, streaming format and cloud content, according to the company.
The company showcased its technology at the first European R-Car Consortium Forum held in Düsseldorf, Germany early in November 2017. “Renesas built the R-Car Consortium network to establish working relationships and provide access to R-Car technology to its over 220 partners,” said Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, Vice President, Automotive Information Solution Business Division, Automotive Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “Cinemo has been one of our leading partners supporting R-Car and we look forward to working with them moving forward,” he added.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Richard Lesser, Chief Executive Officer of Cinemo, what are some of the trends in In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI), and how will these will affect OEMs.
Lesser: The IVI market is in a transition period and innovation is key. We see more and advanced IVI functionality, combined with new IVI architectures, coming in a shorter time to the market than ever before. This includes connectivity inside the car (e.g. wireless content sharing between different devices), connectivity to the internet (e.g. accessing online music and radio services) and application communication (e.g. through mirroring technologies like from Apple, Google and Baidu and more to come).
The reason is that consumer decisions for buying new cars are more and more driven by new technology and connectivity that is offered with the car. In-Vehicle Infotainment plays an important role here, as it is the hub for connectivity inside and outside the car and in constant communication with the driver and passengers. With autonomous driving and electrical cars changing the market landscape in the years to come, an important differentiation is coming through highly advanced IVI systems. New car purchases will be generated for those OEMs which understand best how to translate the increasing consumer requirements to actual features and solutions in the car.
AI: How are specialized software companies contribute to the change of the automotive ecosystem?
Lesser: The technical bar is being raised enormously by the IVI transition, which is putting increasing demands on the in-vehicle infotainment technology stack. Solutions must be developed within shorter time-to-market, while maintaining high quality standards. Specialized software companies are critical to make this transition happen and to enable the best possible infotainment with new use cases, while leaving the OEM the choice of architecture, SoC and operating system best fitting its strategy. This enables OEMs and Tier 1s to focus on their strategic goals, while understanding that, in our example, the media side is always covered the best possible technical way using Cinemo.
AI: What do mirror solutions mean for Cinemo's business?
Lesser: Mirror solutions have a very positive impact on Cinemo’s business. We enable our customers to support the available mirror technologies with just one SDK (software development kit), combined with any other functionality for playback, media management, connectivity and cloud access. The industry trends forecast a greater uptake on such hybrid systems. Both smartphone mirroring and advanced embedded solutions, integrated in an IVI setup, will become standard in the future, increasing the integration, functionality and value Cinemo brings.
AI: Tell us a little about how automotive OEMs attitude to IVI has evolved and how important connectivity is.
Lesser: For a long time many OEMs have seen IVI as a good way to increase their revenues if the product is stable, but not as strategically relevant. Many OEMs are now recognizing the importance of software in the car, and are increasing their investments significantly, with IVI playing an important role as the car becomes the fourth screen. For example, the ability to provide consumers new functionality in the shortest time, including the use of over-the-air updates, is key to many OEMs today. On the other side, connectivity provides new abilities like access to online services to stream media content to the car – and also new possibilities for data collection. Connectivity is the most important development in the car, and Cinemo is in pole position to help its customers deliver all the connected new media innovations.
AI: What challenges has Cinemo overcome to make its middleware solutions work across CPUs and operating systems?
Lesser: The biggest challenge was in the beginning – as the approach requires cross-platform software architecture built from ground up to make it highly efficient, and to ensure it is agnostic to CPUs and operating systems. This meant high abstraction in our software layers, combined with very efficient code. This approach had its challenges as it required Cinemo to not rely on third-party solutions, but to develop an integrated and self-sufficient solution in-house over the past nine years. Furthermore, in order to deliver constant high quality to our customers, we are testing our code 24/7 with millions of test runs including inserting random problems – any problem identified will be fixed. Through our strong partnership with the hardware vendors we have been able to maintain not only compatibility and robustness with new platforms, but also to evolve our solution to use the latest processor features.
AI: What is next for Cinemo?
Lesser: We will continue to provide our customers with the most robust middleware solutions to fulfil all requirements for any media use case, on any architecture, SoC and operating system platform. We will further accelerate industry innovation and ensure that our customers have the freedom to create the best IVI systems in the market – from entry to any premium system, tablet based and RSE entertainment. In the immediate future, we will be supporting many additional cloud services to meet the requirements of OEMs and Tier 1s. And please stay tuned for CES 2018, as we will be presenting some very exciting innovations.
Distributed Playback(TM): Optimized and robust solution for playback and synchronized multimedia streaming.
Distributed Media ManagementTM: Ultra-fast media management engine for content indexing, aggregation, searching and remote accessing.
Distributed Connectivity(TM): Connectivity middleware for device abstraction of CD/DVD, Apple/Android and other devices.
Distributed CloudTM: Solution for browsing, streaming and media playback of content from online service providers.
16.5m licenses sold until the end of 2016.
World’s leading multimedia middleware provider.