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Smartphone technology is setting the standard for in-car telephony and other multi-media functions.

One of the leaders in automotive multimedia connectivity is Paris-based Parrot. Founded in 1994 by Henri Seydoux, Parrot has developed the most extensive range of hands-free kits on the market for cars, motorbikes and scooters, including wireless multimedia products geared towards audiovisual applications.

At the latest IAA 2009 Frankfurt Motorshow, the company demonstrated its future Automotive smartphone-features-oriented solution: Automotive Industries (AI) wanted to know more about it. Eric Riyahi, executive OEM director for Parrot, answered our questions.

AI: How do you envision the future of automotive connectivity?

Eric Riyahi: Automotive connectivity is currently focused on hands-free telephony and multimedia connectivity with portable devices such as USB flash drives and media players such as the iPod. The growing trend in mobile phone use is represented by smartphones, with the integration of telephony, internet access and multimedia devices in one single device. Automotive connectivity should keep the pace with mobile devices and enable drivers to enjoy a smartphone-like feature embedded in their vehicles.

AI: How do you justify your focus on embedding smartphones features in the car?

Eric Riyahi: Smartphones are the fastest growing segment in the mobile phone market, with a projected 30% worldwide market share in 2013. This trend is especially strong in North America and Europe, both markets where automotive connectivity is widespread. Moreover, carriers have been fuelling this growth by subsidizing
smartphones in order to maximize their ARPU through data services and multimedia applications, both features smartphones are designed for. These services and applications are also well adapted to the automotive world, with location-based services, mapping information and off-board navigation

AI: How will you implement this new type of connectivity?

Eric Riyahi: The main characteristics of smartphones are: internet access, messaging, multimedia playback and the ability to install applications in the field. Parrot aims at offering these very features in its upcoming connectivity solutions, via the FC6100 module. In addition to existing Bluetooth and USB use cases, internet access is provided through 3G+ (via Bluetooth through the user’s phone, with a USB 3G+ dongle or with an embedded GSM module).

The Parrot FC6100 can be embedded in the car and opens the automotive connectivity market to a wider panel of Tier One suppliers, considering the potential for integration into the in-vehicle display and center stack, especially if you consider the LCD controller capabilities of this module.

AI: Which software platform do you regard as most appropriate for implementing a smartphone-like automotive connectivity solution?

Eric Riyahi: Android is the rising platform in the smartphone world. It combines the flexibility and low costs of an open OS with the wealth of Java applications coming from the fast growing developers community. With the combination of this platform and mobile internet access, Parrot will provide OEMs with a groundbreaking advancement in automotive connectivity.

AI: Can you physically demonstrate this new solution?

Eric Riyahi: Parrot introduced the FC6100 during the 2009 IAA Frankfurt Motorshow. It was met with great interest from the automotive community. Your readers are invited to discover it first-hand during the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, from January 7th to 10th 2010 (LVCC South Hall, booth #30924)

AI: How will you implement this solution with your customers?

Eric Riyahi: Parrot will follow its current strategy as a reference technology supplier, working with leading Tier One suppliers who wish to gain a competitive advantage. The FC6100 solution can be implemented standalone or integrated in a radio, display, or center stack

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