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Industry Leaders Discuss UX Megatrends, Part 2: Connected Ecosystems

Automakers and suppliers embrace the challenge of integrating complex ecosystem into the in-car user experience
 

The following is the second in a 3-part article from a fireside chat held at the Rightware Party at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. For more, read part 1 on the increasing size and number of displays and part 3 on ADAS and autonomy.

Whenever business leaders gather to talk about the automotive industry, hot topics are almost certain to become part of the discussion. When Rightware gathered software, semiconductor, and automotive leaders for a fireside chat at its annual Kanzi Partner Program social event at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the conversation centered around three megatrends in the automotive industry: the increasing size of screens in cars; connectivity and app ecosystems inside the vehicle; and the evolution toward semi- and fully autonomous vehicles.

Sharing their visions were Dan Mender, vice president of business development at Green Hills Software; J F Grossen, global vice president of design for HERE Technologies; Michael Groene, director of electrical engineering at Karma Automotive; Bill Pinnell, senior director of automotive software at Qualcomm, and Ville Ilves, CEO of Rightware. The discussion was moderated by Derek Sellin, vice president of marketing for Rightware.

Rightware CES 2019 Fireside Chat

Ecosystems inside the vehicle

Today’s vehicles have more digital screens than ever in the instrument panel, center stack, and rear-seat entertainment units. In Part 1 of this three-part series, the panelists agreed the trend towards more, and often larger, screens filled with a growing amount of content will continue. Adding more screens and graphic content into vehicles is an intricate task for software companies, designers, UI developers, and automakers.

Software companies like Green Hills are stepping up to the challenge of ensuring the “very powerful multicore processors that are running multiple operating systems and multiple software services from multiple vendors and third parties” are properly integrated, according to Mender. “The ability to understand how the overall system works and be able to optimize and debug that complex environment is one of the major issues with the growth,” he said. “We’ve spent about 100 man-years over the past four years developing techniques and capabilities to address that.”

Automakers like Karma are relying on expertise from software companies as well as UI developers and designers to help them manage information across the cockpit. “There is no doubt that all of the connectivity brings more complexity,” said Groene, referring to the need to deliver information to the driver as well as other occupants in the vehicle.

While complex, Groene noted that displays and the information provided on them create a unique branding opportunity for automakers. “Each OEM will tailor the (information) in a different way and, on the graphics side, will generate a certain flow in a certain appearance, and that is the (brand) differentiation.”

To further complicate matters, Pinnell noted that the systems must be designed not just for the driver, but with multiple users in mind without losing graphic uniformity within the vehicle. “Qualcomm definitely sees that we need to support multiple users within the environment,” Pinnell said. “You might have multiple Linux or Android instances for the car, different user profiles, multiple zones, (and multiple) mics. It is very important how you join that together so that you get a common theme that’s not disjointed between passenger and driver.”

Rightware used CES to introduce the latest innovations in its Kanzi product family, which allow automakers to increase brand value by combining Android™ Automotive with new high-quality graphics that can be shared across all displays in the vehicle, including the digital cluster, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) screens, and the head-up display (HUD).

“Android has been a big part of Rightware’s story from the very early days of the company,” said Rightware CEO Ville Ilves, referring to Android home screens for consumer electronics like cells phones, tablets and game consoles. “Now, for the first time, Android-embedded is making a real entrance into the automotive industry. This is an interesting time for us as a company as we combine our technology and skills on the real-time operating systems and Android in head units.”

Rightware thanks the panelists for participating in the fireside chat and all of its partners that create a global ecosystem of companies working together to develop and define the future of digital HMI utilizing Kanzi. Rightware also wants to thank the companies that sponsored its annual Kanzi Partner Program reception at CES: Monotype, KPIT, E-Planet, Siili Solutions, and Green Hills Software.

Read more about Rightware’s CES announcement of Kanzi for Android, bringing high-performance graphics to Android IVI systems and sharing data from Android-based apps and services across the vehicle cockpit. For a glimpse into Rightware's private suite, head over to the CES 2019 Kanzi Experience.