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“Agnostic” connectivity between vehicle and smartphone makes the right connection

Open industry standard MirrorLink developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) has become the defacto standard ahead of proprietary systems.

MirrorLink offers seamless connectivity between smartphones and car infotainment systems. It has moved out of the development phase and onto the road. At the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show, PSA Peugeot Citroën showcased two new MirrorLinkenabled vehicles. PSA, Honda, Volkswagen and Toyota  were among the world’s first automakers to deliver factory-installed, MirrorLink-enabled infotainment systems to the mass market.

MirrorLink certified partners include Samsung, HTC, Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer and Alpine. “The CCC has witnessed a sea change in the availability and momentum of MirrorLinkenabled products,” says Alan Ewing, president and executive director of the CCC. “These rollouts are key additions to more than 500 products already on the market – and represent the true next generation of car-smartphone connectivity. Most of all, vehicle line-fits confirm that MirrorLink is officially in the here and now.”

MirrorLink allows drivers to gain access to phone applications via the car’s navigation screen and dashboard/steering-wheel buttons through a cable connection between the handset and vehicle. Built on a set of well established, non-proprietary technologies,

MirrorLink uses standard Internet technologies (such as Internet Protocol) for compatibility with a wide range of devices. It also uses technologies already common in the car, such as Bluetooth™ and USB. Newly-introduced car technologies such as Wi-Fi. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP™) facilitates controlled access to applications. Virtual Network Computing (VNC™) replicates the phone’s display on the navigation screen and communicates user prompts back to the phone. In addition to Bluetooth, MirrorLink streams audio with Real-Time Protocol (RTP). Safety is built in as the CCC offers standardized MirrorLink certification so that only approved applications are accessible while driving.

MirrorLink is designed for maximum interoperability between a wide range of smartphones and cars. As the only OS- and OEMagnostic standard for car-smartphone connectivity, it empowers consumers to feel linked to their devices and responsible at the same time. In September 2014, Connexion Media Limited an innovator in the connected car market, had its miRoamer radio and music service app accepted as a partner to the CCC’s MirrorLink® Developer Fast Track program. The

MirrorLink Developer Fast Track accelerates apps on the path to MirrorLink certification. This benefits miRoamer by allowing Connexion direct access to technical support, inclusion in the CCC’s marketing and communications from the CCC, promotion of the app among CCC members and a potential reduction in test lab costs.

“Being selected by the CCC for this program reinforces our position as a global leader in connected car app development,” said Connexion Media CEO and managing director George Parthimos. “The technical and marketing support we receive in bringing miRoamer to MirrorLink is invaluable and provides us with another excellent platform for the radio and music service.”

The MirrorLink Developer Fast Track identifies best-inclass apps that already work across mobile devices and show promise for working across a range of different vehicle head units with different control schemes. To achieve MirrorLink Certification, apps first must comply with regional driver distraction guidelines.

The MirrorLink Developer Fast Track helps developers overcome this and all of the associated challenges in creating a more enjoyable and responsible connected-driving experience.

Automotive Industries asked Antti Aumo, MirrorLink Evangelist and Marketing Director of the Connected Car Consortium what has helped MirrorLink move ahead with partners and deployments ahead of others such as CarPlay and Google Auto.

Aumo: MirrorLink is a single industry-wide and open standard supported by a robust and healthy ecosystem. This additional functionality offers OS vendors and handset manufacturers a chance to give consumers a branded environment extended to a larger screen for more hours a day, instead of having to fit into the mold of a specific standard. MirrorLink is an enabler for car/smartphone connectivity and allows all industry players to have an equal stake.

AI: How do you see your membership growing by 2015 since already 80% of automakers and 70% of handset manufacturers are members? Aumo: As always, we hope to reach 100% on both fronts as soon as possible.

AI: What do you predict as the major advances in car/ smartphone connectivity in 2015? Aumo: We predict that we’ll continue to see more MirrorLinkenabled mass-market vehicles roll out globally in 2015. Combined with MirrorLink handset and app availability, we expect 2015 to witness a shift in consumer perception about the benefit of a standard like MirrorLink over proprietary systems.

AI: How has it helped MirrorLink to be the only OS and OEM-agnostic standard for car-smartphone connectivity? Aumo: The CCC has grown exponentially since its formation in 2011 to 80% of automakers and 70% handset members as members. MirrorLink has millions of cars and tens of millions of phones out in the field already, and our certification system is seeing traffic to support this. OS and OEM agnosticism is directly responsible for the sheer size of our footprint and the ultimate viability of our solution.

AI: What are some of the challenges in keeping MirrorLink designed for maximum interoperability? Aumo: All the time zones! From the beginning, our member companies have demonstrated a strong willingness to collaborate on MirrorLink, so the biggest challenges have been logistical ones.

AI: Tell us about your developer programs and how the different schemes work. Aumo: MirrorLink opens new markets for app developers by providing a one-stop shop for creating apps that are driver-aware and work with most popular cars and handsets. App developers can focus on innovating content and new features because MirrorLink transparently manages the underlying communications between smartphone and head units. MirrorLink enables development of apps that meet driver distraction guidelines, allowing the apps to be used from the dashboard head unit while driving. Developers can create compelling context-aware, location-based services, with the ability to deliver engaging content to consumers during the often-considerable time they spend in cars.

There are two levels of app certification: base-certified and drive-certified. Base-certified apps may be used when the car is parked; drive-certified apps may be used while driving. During the certification process, apps are tested against driver distraction guidelines and verified to work with compliant smartphones and head units.

AI: What are some of the new MirrorLink-enabled apps that will hit the market over the next few months? Aumo: Upcoming apps include:

  • miRoamer – A category-leading digital media platform for vastly improved internet radio and music entertainment • Audioteka – Brings the audiobook experience to all available platforms, so that users can enjoy great stories wherever they are
  • BringGo – A premium, turn-by-turn navigation app for mobile and in-vehicle use developed by EnGIS Technologies, a leading supplier of navigation software solutions to automotive OEMs worldwide. BringGo is available for over 80 countries and in more than 30 languages.
  • Coyote – The pioneer and leading pan-European, communitybased, multi-platform driving assistant service, providing the relevant alert at the relevant time to more than 3.6 million drivers
  • Glympse – The world’s leading location-sharing technology company that allows drivers to use their car’s display to share their real-time movements with anyone they choose, including estimated time of arrival (ETA), on a dynamic map
  • Parkopedia – The world’s leading parking information provider which allows drivers to find parking in over 6,000 cities across 50 countries • Sygic – The world’s most downloaded offline navigation app.

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