Top Five Technologies Enabling the Connected Car

December 13, 2013  by  


By Richard Barrett, Broadcom Director, Wireless and Automotive Connectivity

Car connectivity, advanced driver safety and infotainment features are moving beyond the luxury class and are fast becoming the new battleground for product differentiation in the highly competitive automotive market. Analysts predict that by 2025, 100 percent of new cars will offer some form of connectivity1 and automakers are looking to the latest technologies to deliver the advanced features consumers demand. Here we take a look at the top five technologies playing a key role in the connected car.

1.            Seamless Connectivity with Mobile Devices via Wi-Fi

Most people have lost track of all the gadgets that rely on Wi-Fi technology to connect to other devices or the Internet.

Inside a vehicle, Wi-Fi is such a game changer that analysts expect eight-fold growth in Wi-Fi enabled applications by 2019. Software upgrades and new features can be pushed directly to the vehicle.

Drivers can use a smart mobile device to check remotely on their car’s location, gas levels and mileage—and that same device can receive alerts on vehicle performance and diagnostics. Wi-Fi technology also enables seamless streaming of content from mobile devices to the car’s infotainment system and rear-seat display.

With the recent introduction of 5G WiFi, based on the latest 802.11ac standard, drivers and passengers can easily sync and stream content from mobile devices to the car’s infotainment system and rear-seat displays. 5G WiFi also enables high-speed connectivity beyond the vehicle, serving Internet and cloud content via LTE telematics or directly from a Hot Spot connection.

2.            Connecting to Wearable Tech via Bluetooth® Smart

The term Bluetooth has been synonymous with hands-free mobile phone use for years. The revolutionary secret behind Bluetooth Smart is the ability to link a smart mobile device to wireless hardware—using miniscule battery power.

Now that developers have their hands on the holy grail of low energy/low cost connectivity, the world is seeing explosive growth of intelligent products that promise to change the way we live.

Bluetooth Smart Ready technology, which allows products to sip power at an incremental rate, will play a vital role in enabling connectivity between the car and wearable tech with the ability to monitor biometric indicators including driver fatigue, blood alcohol content and glucose levels.

Nissan recently introduced its Nismo Smartwatch, capable of monitoring vehicle speeds and fuel consumption along with driver biometrics. Nismo is equipped with a heart rate monitor that tracks the wearer’s pulse and compares it to their current speed, providing similar biometric technology to the kind used by race car drivers.

3.            Easier Device Pairing and Car Rental via Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC technology usually associated with mobile payments or contactless transactions also holds great promise for use in automotive. One of the most immediate applications for NFC is easier pairing between the car and mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. Syncing devices with the car will be as simple as tapping the mobile device to the integrated sensor inside the vehicle.

NFC will also play a role in enabling digital keys. Automotive components supplier Continental is currently testing this technology on a fleet of electric rental vehicles.

Integrating an NFC reader into the windshield allows an NFC-enabled smartphone to exchange data such as authentication, user profile and vehicle/diagnostic information. Once the reader verifies authorized access, it starts the engine. A mobile app also allows users to select and reserve a rental vehicle, book a spot at a car-charging station, and locate their vehicle.

4.            Real-time Traffic Updates and Vehicle Tracking via Integrated GNSS

Drivers have been enjoying the driver assist features of GNSS satellite navigational systems for years, although they are most familiar with the earlier term GPS. While GNSS-enabled smartphones are gaining in popularity, standalone navigation systems are sporting more features than ever before.

With in-car GNSS, drivers have access to routing based on real-time traffic conditions, audible driving directions with text-to-speech, and Internet connectivity for points-of-interest searches.

Some systems enhance safety with heads up display, delivering information from mobile devices to the windshield, keeping drivers focused on the road. In a recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers using GNSS navigators experience less stress, feel safer, have more control, are more alert, and travel more efficiently.

GNSS technology is also the magician behind advanced security products like LoJack® that help police recover stolen vehicles.

5.            Secure, High Performance Connectivity via Automotive Ethernet

The call for affordable, high bandwidth in-car connectivity was answered by Ethernet, the widely deployed solution that has given the world high performance  network reliability for decades. Automotive Ethernet is fully optimized for in-car use, delivering 100 Mbps bandwidth at a much lower cost and lighter weight than traditional automotive cabling.

As the connected car evolves, so do concerns about network security. By leveraging Automotive Ethernet as the car’s network backbone, network security features such as device/message authentication and message encryption protect the car from malicious attacks, eavesdropping and the installation of non-service-approved devices.

Deployment of low-cost Automotive Ethernet also means that high-end features such as infotainment and advanced driver assistance system features like surround-view parking, rear-view cameras and lane departure warning can be deployed in a much broader range of vehicles – beyond the luxury class.


1 GSMA 2012

2 IMS 2012

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