RIM shows off connected car tech with Bentley

Troubled Canadian vendor Research In Motion (RIM) is maintaining its relevance in the industry through QNX, the software subsidiary it bought in 2010, by focusing on connected cars.

At CES this week, the QNX operating system popped up in a concept car based on a Bentley Continental GT convertible with participation from Texas Instruments, AT&T Watson, Shazam, and Elektrobit.

Version 2.0 of the QNX Car development platform, which launched at the show, supports a rich set of pre-integrated technologies, both from QNX and dozens of ecosystem partners and claims to significantly reduce the time required to build connected infotainment systems. One customer apparently slashed their development effort down to 14 months from three years.

One of the new features of QNX car 2.0 demonstrated in the Bentley is speech recognition technology, called ‘Watson’. Just say “Hello Bentley,” and the car’s voice recognition system starts interacting in a distinctly British accent.

The framework extracts meaning from the driver’s spoken words, enabling in-car systems to create calendar appointments, dictate email or text messages, set navigation destinations, and perform general internet searches.

The company is also working on an HTML5 SDK for the application, which will be out by mid 2013, giving mobile developers specialised APIs for accessing automotive devices and hardware.

Check out our full feature on connected cars

“The era of multi-year design cycles in car infotainment is over; our customers now want to develop at the speed of mobility. Case in point: we helped one customer slash their development effort down to 14 months — a massive improvement over the industry standard of three years,” said Andy Gryc, automotive product marketing manager, QNX Software Systems. “At the same time, our platform helps infotainment systems stay relevant long after they’ve been deployed, through an HTML5 framework that simplifies smartphone integration and that enables manufacturers to keep vehicles fresh with new apps and content.”

Delphi Automotive, which develops in car infotainment systems, recently selected QNX as its next generation software platform.

According to RIM’s own stats, the QNX platform is used in 60 per cent of cars currently on the road, and according to Jamie Moss, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, the firm already has the expertise required to develop a strong offering for the connected car market.

“Many people look at operating systems such as iOS think of it as being far too closed so it will never move beyond Apple’s own products and with Android the concern is that it’s far too open, and it’s a bit too “fuzzy” to use in specific deployments – it is best as a general purpose operating system for phones or tablets,” he explains.

“But RIM has the experience that is required to develop something for such a specific type of industry and such a specific type of product.”

RIM’s role in the automobile space is not a well known one. Operating on a white label basis, the in-car computers are not branded as RIM or Blackberry, but QNX is what the head unit in the majority of cars run on.

“Drivers don’t know they’re driving a RIM device – QNX would have been commissioned by the individual car manufacturers for RIM to produce a version of the operating system that conformed to their particular requirements and allows the particular services that they wish to offer,” explains Moss. “It usually ends up being branded by the actual company vending to the consumer – so, typically the automobile OEM. They’d be oblivious to the fact that it’s QNX, let alone that RIM now owns QNX.”


  • Connected & Autonomous Vehicles

  • Connected Cars & Autonomous Vehicles Europe

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