Auto Infotainment Evolutionary and Revolutionary Developments

Kevin Parmenter, Field Applications Engineering – North America, Advanced Energy



A few of my favorite TV programs include “Weaponology,” “Future Weapons,” “Modern Marvels” and the science show “Connections.” They all explore the various paths of technological change and interrelations and the significant effects that this change has on society, including that in order for one thing to be developed, enabled and built upon, prior developments had to be invented and built upon. 

This is certainly the case with the automotive and infotainment industry. The rapid developments occurring in the automotive electronics arena can trace their origins back to electric motors and electrical developments, time delay wipers, and radios in cars; however, propelling forward the developments in other segments (consumer, communications, wireless and cellular, gaming, embedded control and computing) connectivity, power electronics, LED lighting, Military technology, Radar Wi-Fi, Satellites, GUIs and software, class D audio and AV systems, motor drives, battery technologies and more are coming together to drive the future of the automotive and infotainment customer experience. In fact IHS projects 1500 dollars of electronic content per vehicle or more within a few years.

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines five levels of vehicle automation. From Level 0 essentially means no automation to level 5 full automation, no driver needed but may take over if required. Full automation allows us to enjoy the infotainment system that much more!

For us to not only climb the automation hill to get to Level 5 we must continue to advance in all areas, including Night Vision – Lidar – radar and sensing systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems, electrification of the drive train and power electronics, graphics – computing and AI. Video and ultrasound imaging systems, driver-vehicle communication systems and interfaces – voice and data, and of course the rapid development and continued development of memory technologies. Vehicles are generating lots of data and will do more so in the future. The data must be stored and processed not only in the vehicle but also in server farms. Information will be fed into the vehicles via wireless including 5G from cellular base stations, as well as via wireless Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and DSRC communications. Vehicles will more and more include charging – wireless and otherwise – for consumer electronics, including built in inverters to take our AC line powered systems on the road if needed.

Since we’ll be spending less time driving and more time riding, we’ll have the ability to enjoy our commute times a bit more than we do now, and can even be more productive. Incidents of accidents should also decrease as safety systems and software get better, increasing occupant safety and reducing insurance rates. Biometrics and tracking systems will reduce – possibly even eliminate – vehicle theft .  While the speed of this evolution is unknown, we do know we are building on technology developed from days to decades ago to create a future of automotive and infotainment systems that will benefit us all.