• May 21, 2010
More tech in your car? Oh, that's inevitable. But automakers are trying to figure out the best way to implement it. There are two main architectures currently; tethered and embedded. Ford's SYNC is an example of a tethered tech-integration system that uses Bluetooth to connect to mobile devices consumers already own and carry with them. General Motors' OnStar system is an embedded setup that builds the technology into the car. Going forward, the consensus seems to be that we're going to see systems that combine elements of both.

A tethered system is typically less costly than an embedded alternative, and it works with equipment you already own and know how to use. Systems like Sync can extend the functionality of your gear and is an attractive option to tech-savvy consumers. The lower cost makes it possible to proliferate these kind of features into more models, instead of just being a high-end feature. However, embedded systems offer advantages of their own. With communications hardware built in to the vehicle, performance is more reliable, and safety can be enhanced by tying in to the vehicle's crash sensors and stability control to automatically call for help if it detects a severe accident.

True to the cliche, it seems that the young'ins are more comfortable with tethered systems, while older generations prefer embedded systems. OnStar is already starting to do this, opening up the system in Chevrolet Volt applications with a mobile app that lets drivers connect to their car even when they're away from it. The future likely holds a system that combines aspects of both, enhancing safety, beating back obsolescence and drawing on the strength of each technology to deliver the best experience as cars continue to become more sophisticated.

[Source: AutoObserver.com]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      There is no way car companies can keep up with the technology out there.

      A car lasts, on average, about 12 years on the road, yet a new iPod or phone gets replaced every 2 or 3 years.

      Makes a lot more sense to me to use the technology that the consumer already owns and simply connect to it, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

      But beyond all that, I have NO interest in seeing tons more technology distracting drivers. Leave the high-tech for the enginebay... but keep the interior focused on driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Integration of technology allows the driver to focus more on driving, and keep the controls at convenient locations and their hands free. Technological progress is good, and nothing to be afraid of.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hang onto my car alot longer than I hang onto my phone. Rather than build expensive, proprietary infotainment into the car that's obsolete by the time it hits the dealer lots, keep the car simple and let the tethered device handle the heavy lifting.

      • 4 Years Ago
      When a crucial system gets upgraded and the tech company no longer supports it (as all stop doing after three years), you know what happens? You're stuck with the bugs and security problems and your car has exactly ZERO value, overnight. Yes, seriously.

      My BMW's cell phone controls became literally useless 12 months after it sold and there's no upgrade available. The steering wheel is filled with useless communications buttons that no manufacturer supports. It'll happen on a global scale soon.

      The glitches and security problems coming to the auto world is going to be a HUGE problem. Just wait.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree.

        There is a reason that cars are considered a "durable good" - it's because they are supposed to be usable for many years.

        Gadgets and other computer technology are obsolete before they even leave the store.

        Allow a way to connect to the consumer's device, but leave it at that. Give them an AUX IN or USB or Bluetooth or some other "standard" connection, but no matter how cutting-edge an infotainment feature is today, by 2020 it will look as outdated as an 8-Track does to us now, even if the car will still have years of life left.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All I need is Nav, A/C, and a decent stereo with an aux or USB jack and I'm good. More tech, especially safety features, encourages bad driving.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NO MORE TEC!!! Just let me drive and go to the store. What else does an 80 year old man neeed. Jesus, I remember when cars came with a crank.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oh jeez. Are you going to rail against touchscreens too?

        If you don't want to use it, don't use it. No one is threatening to kill your family "if you don't use your advanced multimedia management interface."
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anyone who thinks tech in cars should be upgradeable doesn't remember what happened when cell phone standards changed 10 years ago:

        All the "built-in" mics and buttons for the cell became obsolete overnight. Look at the E46 BMW's: A whole steering wheel full of controls became literally useless 12 months after the car sold new.


        • 4 Years Ago
        "NO MORE TEC!!!"

        thats a little broad. Flat screens in family cars can be great for road trips so its a great option...but I personally would only prefer a radio, speakers and a USB cable to connect my own devices to use the car speakers and maybe an optional flat screen to expand my handheld device on a larger screen. But really, I wouldnt mind if cars came without everything but some quality speakers so I could install my own stuff.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As far as entertainment and communications go, I think they absolutely need to focus on tethering. Pulling audio, video and data off of laptops and mobile devices. Since we already pay for a lot of services (netflix, pandora one, etc) to get this to our mobile device, a tethered system allows people to pay for that sort of thing only once and bring it with them everywhere. The alternative would be paying fees for services that *only* come to your car, which is bad unless you live in your car.

      Make the car a really nice place to enjoy your media, but let the mobile device or laptop control it.



      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe soon you can have your car call you if it is moved or tampered with. To get that now you'd have to get Low Jack with the 300-400 dollar option. Comes to about 800 bucks total. With today's technology, thats a complete rip off!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ideally, every car would have an iPhone dock that included video output, and another standardized dock that would work with Android devices (my personal choice) that would show your device's screen output on a large touch display. My phone truly does everything that I need, it'd be great if I could dock it and have it use a bigger screen.

      They won't do this though, since they can charge $2000-$4000 for a built in system.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Since the iPhone is not the dominant player (still the Crackberry), car makers would need to allow that docking. That said, if car ent. systems allowed a Bluejacking of the display then every phone screen would work.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To be honest, I wish they'd make some standard interface connectors and leave that stuff to the aftermarket. That kind of tech will be obsolete several times over during the life of the car. And I wouldn't mind my choice of tech sperate from my choice of car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Leave this to the aftermarket... are you freaken crazy!!!! Talk about No Standards, that is exactly what the after market is... a mess!

        Ford's on the right approach because software is sooooooooooo much easier to upgrade in a re-flash vs. hardware that is generally obsolete as soon as it is installed. Just ask any GM OnStar owner who had the analog verson for years with NO upgrade path but to rip everything out and replace it with digital at considerable expense.

        Compare Fords in-car WIFI solution to GM's and you'll see what I mean, Ford's is mostly free except for the adpater while GM wants $500 to install hardware PLUS a monthly service fee... I know where I'd invest my money!
        • 4 Years Ago
        they do
        its called usb
        the problem is those connectors themselves become obsolete, as more and more information is passed between the 2 objects
        • 4 Years Ago
        paul34: With all due respect, STFU about Apple. Adobe, Sony, and Microsoft all have their own closed architectures too. iPods have had a proprietary jack from the get-go because it was originally designed for FireWire, and and Apple new the dock interface would need to be flexible to USB as well. At the time when the iPod was new, NO car stereo system had USB connections or AUX ports. The success of the iPod was the killer app which changed car stereos.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Except Apple doesn't care about standards and open interfaces and third party collaboration and development. And since that's what a lot of people use, car manufacturers are forced to develop for that single closed system while giving Jobs his share of royalties and fees.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tethered all the way.

      All the "advantages" of embedded systems mentioned can be incorporated into a tethered system. The only embedded systems should be vehicle safety based, and easy for a tethered device to talk to. Everything else can be an app. Hell even climate control might be better suited as an app, using a car's built in sensors and systems in conjunction with a weather app would deliver far more useful climate control settings than the most expensive and complex native systems.

      Above all tethering means less locked-in technology that will get hopelessly out-of-date by the time a car hits a showroom. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the cars built from say 2002-2015 are undesirable in the future due to their old-school embedded tech which would be difficult to make work with future networks.
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