Visteon bets big with nextgen infotainment platform Phoenix
In the rapidly evolving world of automotive electronics, few features can influence the driving experience more than in-vehicle infotainment. By giving drivers and passengers access to navigation, traffic and weather along with audio, video and other entertainment a robust, up-to-date, infotainment system can help create a safer, more enjoyable drive. The boom in consumers’ use of mobile devices has raised expectations for in-vehicle infotainment. Therfore to provide next-generation infotainment platform that can keep up with the ever-changing evolving technology of consumer’s mobile apps, elevating infotainment to a new level, global vehicle cockpit electronics player, Visteon has introduced a breakthrough product Phoenix.
He continued saying that, “Phoenix is based on an open architecture that proactively seeks to tap the innovation and creativity of the broad community of app developers, breaking down the traditional barrier for embedded automotive app development that has restricted the availability of apps for infotainment systems,” Jain added.
Design to adapt – App developed friendly
Traditionally the entire infotainment system is developed by the Tier1 suppliers. The OEMs are very particular that the supplier should start from the design to all the aspects of implementation. Even after a period of 2 years, the OEMs would insist that the same supplier should refresh the product with no flexibility. Visteon offers a unique Phoenix SDK, incorporating libraries of code, documents and a simulator to support app development by third parties. The SDK makes app development easier than the conventional approach, which, requires custom software and hardware; it also lacks thirdparty tools and is costly and time-consuming.
“With Phoenix, the developer will be able to log on to a Visteon microsite, create and test apps with an SDK and a simulator. The app is then validated by the automaker or Visteon and published to an app store,” Jain said. He further said, “For any change the time to market is dependent upon how quickly the Tier 1 reacts. So to address those issues we have developed Phoenix in such a way and brought down the base platform. The platform will have the hardware and base software. The implementation of what the end consumer feels and interacts with is all programmed as apps (application). So whatever apps is required can be developed by the OEMs or third party. They can download the apps and use it the way they want. This flexibility has never been given before by any Tier 1 to the OEM and this is the first of its kind that Visteon is offering to them. This will also open up third party developers in the way phones are developed,” Jain said.
Phoenix also comes with in-built multiple security layers which will not allow the apps developed by the third party to access the CAN network of the OEM. Multiple layers of firewalls have been built into this system. Phoenix is designed for cyber security from the ground up. It is developed to meet the intent of the SAE standard J3061 framework.
“We are taking multi-layered approach to protect the software with secure boot – ensuring that only trusted software is run inside the ECU,” Jain said.
Phoenix also advances the capability to update in-vehicle apps over the air, either on a dealership lot or in the driveways of individual owners. With Phoenix, for the first time automakers can securely update just one portion of an app, using Visteon’s proprietary block-and-file technology, rather than needing to upgrade the entire system.
Phoenix already has different possibilities to connect to the internet. It has WiFi and can connect through phone hotspot or any external travel modems, or by connecting the USB dongle to the system. Often the vehicle itself will have TCU, which may have a 3G or 4G built-in sim and this will connect through the internal wiring of the car and to the internet. With these options the apps can be downloaded customised. Thus the infotainment can be kept fresh for a longer period.
Improving the driving experience by displaying all required information on one large screen, Phoenix improves the driving experience as well. Application integration occurs via “recipes” that enable the appropriate app at the ideal time. Phoenix “stitches” together (integrates) apps native to the car with apps from Android, Apple (IOS), Linux and Windows to bring all the right apps together at the appropriate time contextually, without a need to touch anything.
For instance, with an infotainment system developed on the new Phoenix framework, the driver doesn’t just receive a warning light and tone when the vehicle is low on fuel; he also immediately sees on the infotainment screen the nearest fueling station and/ or the lowest-cost station. The infotainment system then uses an integrated navigation app to route the driver to that station. No one needs to use a phone or touch a screen; all the required information is automatically displayed on one screen.
The other use case could be stitching internet radio app to USB media manager. In a scenario where the driver is listening to a particular artist- say AR Rahman (media from USB), he/ she will have the option to choose an internet radio icon, which would then provide him/ her the option of viewing all the tracks by the Rahman while listening to the current track at a superior quality from the internet radio.
Visteon is demonstrating the justlaunched Phoenix to the OEMs. Jain said, “they are impressed since the system allows them to control it. Once the control goes to them, they can easily monitor the cost and decide when to upgrade the product and much more.”
Replying to a query on loosing the hold by opening up the market, Jain replied, “Beyond a point somebody has to do it and market has to open up and we are pioneering it. The real value comes when you start opening it up to third party developers. This will lead to many more applications and innovations that will rock the industry and drive higher user satisfaction. We believe that we will focus on what we can do the best. We will bring in new technology and leave it open for the third party developers,” Jain concluded.
Amit Jain, Country Head, Visteon India