Recently, I blogged on some way cool infotainment systems for Mercedes and BMW vehicles. But if you’re anything like me (read “cheap”), the car you drive is smaller than an S-Class and humbler than a Z4 — and much less expensive than either. In my case, it's an 8-year old Neon.
Now, I have no plans to replace the Neon anytime soon. In fact, I still rather like it. But it would be nice to think that, when I do buy a new car, it will offer some of the same infotainment goodies as a Mercedes, but without the attendant sticker shock.
Enter a new, scalable infotainment platform from Harman International. Based on the QNX Neutrino RTOS, the platform “fulfills a commitment to modularize our infotainment expertise,” says Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal.
Translation: Automakers can mix and match a number of pre-integrated and pre-tested modules to address a range of price points. High-end cars can include all or most of the modules, while Neon-class cars can include a subset.
Using QNX middleware, the system works with a variety of storage devices (iPods, thumb drives, CDs/DVDs, etc.); offers Internet radio and other Cloud-based applications; and provides a dynamic user interface. From what I can tell, the UI offers a mix of 2D/3D Flash and OpenGL ES graphics.
The system signals a new market direction for Harman, which has traditionally positioned itself as a premium brand. It will be interesting to see how it maintains its luxury-car leadership while targeting a much larger cross section of vehicles and end-customers.