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Aftermarket Automotive Stereos Support Built-In Controls

New cars have been adding a large number of infotainment controls across the steering wheel and front dashboard. Ford has even included a large number of voice commands under the Sync system to the driver control system. These integrated systems have limited the ability to support new and updated infotainment and navigation functions from the automotive aftermarket.

A problem with the OEM systems is they become obsolete quickly, such as the 2009 to 2012 vehicles that have 30-pin iPhone connectors built in that are no longer compatible with the new model devices. To combat this situation, the automotive aftermarket has been designing new systems that can interface with existing controls — including voice control systems — for these vehicles.

An example that was shown at CES 2014 is the Pioneer Automotive NEX connected AV receiver systems. These feature a new user interface controlling a combination of on-board features with connected services from the driver's smart phone as the primary Internet connectivity. The product line currently has five NEX models, four navigation and one audio/video receiver. As is typical of these replacement systems, they have to fit into the dashboard console of the existing OEM unit, and thus they feature an enhanced UI, and large touch panel displays such as a 7-inch capacitive screen on a navigation system.

These new receivers from Pioneer feature advanced functions such as AppRadio® Mode, AVICSYNC Networked Navigation, iDatalink® Maestro™ support, MirrorLink® compatibility, Siri® Eyes Free mode, expanded Bluetooth®1 capabilities, Pandora®, SiriusXM-Ready™, HD Radio™ Technology, FLAC file playback, dual camera input, and additional connector support.

Pioneer states, “By leveraging the connectivity of the smartphone, we are able to augment and update many of the built-in features with dynamic cloud-based content.” As an example, the AppRadio Mode provides both Apple and Android users the ability to access and operate many of the phone's automotive appropriate apps directly from the car's navigation receiver's large touchscreen display when connected.

These systems are quite advanced on the computing side — most feature dual core processors, 1GB RAM, 8GB or 16GB of NVRAM and typically an Android or Linux OS. These units have connectivity with USB, HDMI, MHL and Bluetooth. These allow for direct connectivity of the smartphone to the vehicle, and support options to also power and charge the phone so it doesnot go dead during use.

In addition to fitting into the existing dashboards and connecting to the steering wheel and voice controls, the systems area is designed to support the ever-changing distracted driver's rules. This is a grey area for new cars, as some states are considering not allowing “grandfathered” vehicles to be sold unless retrofitted to meet current guidelines.

This includes dual zone control of the AV, which allows video to play in the back, but audio only in front. This is for recently passed laws banning no-full-motion video in the front of the vehicle. The aftermarket systems also support navigation that can only have an address input when the vehicle is stopped. The devices can be updated as the black box regulations expand to include the collection of stats for the driving experience, TPM, engine state, and other performance dynamics that are currently collected through the OBDII port and being reported to the smart phone via Bluetooth.

All in all, the aftermarket AV and navigation systems are now back to being an option even for voice-controlled systems, which allows the cars to keep up with phone and connected technologies.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EE Times.

9 comments on “Aftermarket Automotive Stereos Support Built-In Controls

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    February 18, 2014

    I was interested to learn who the main players ar ein this market and what the standard physical interface is in the modern car.  Is it simply the old slot that used to house the 6×1.5 in radio cassette (I can't imagine it is)? 

  2. SP
    February 18, 2014

    Cars infotainment having access to driver's smartphone means a person can cntinue doing his office or other work even if he is driving. One way its good but other way a person can neveer relax. 

  3. Ariella
    February 18, 2014

    @SP another concern some people have is that all these features contribute to distracted driving. There already has been at least one class action lawsuit filed against Ford for its infotainment system: http://www.mcmc-law.com/personal-injury-blog/ford-infotainment-system-crashes-could-lead-to-actual-crashes-lawsuit-alleges/

  4. Daniel
    February 18, 2014

    “Cars infotainment having access to driver's smartphone means a person can cntinue doing his office or other work even if he is driving. One way its good but other way a person can neveer relax. “

    Sp, it may not be in that way. It can access media files from smartphones to play through the car infotainment module.

  5. Adeniji Kayode
    February 20, 2014

    @SP, while all these gadgets have their advantages and disadvantages, we still can not expect cars to come out with less gadgets in this age. Guide lines would rather be made to guide driver's conducts.

  6. Adeniji Kayode
    February 20, 2014

    @ARIELLA, who is to be blamed for the damage(s) caused by the use of the infotainment by a distracted and reckless driver?

  7. Adeniji Kayode
    February 20, 2014

    @ARIELLA, who is to be blamed for the damage(s) caused by the use of the infotainment by a distracted and reckless driver?

  8. ahdand
    February 20, 2014

    @Kayode: Who else other than the driver itself. I think it should be strictly implemented or else it will go out of control 

  9. Adeniji Kayode
    February 20, 2014

    @nimantha.d I agree with you on that. so many gadgets are made to make life and tasks easier but abusive use of these gadgets can make things turn the other way round.

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