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Updated: August 13, 2013 16:16 IST

What the future holds in terms of in-vehicle infotainment

Ravindra B. S.
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Ravindra BS is a Project Manager at Mistral Solutions. Photo: Special arrangement.
The Hindu
Ravindra BS is a Project Manager at Mistral Solutions. Photo: Special arrangement.

Enable seamless connectivity and enriched in-vehicle infotainment experiences through integration of devices, apps and features.

With automakers constantly striving to differentiate their products by keeping up with customer demands, there are several interesting technologies that hit the market frequently. For example, Apple, at present, has specifications in place wherein the multimedia content from a user’s iPhone/iPad/iPod can be streamed to and played from the car’s audio system. Such technologies enable seamless connectivity and enriched in-vehicle infotainment experiences through integration of devices, apps and features.

Here is a list of interesting technologies one can look forward to in terms of in-vehicle infotainment in the coming years:


This includes in-vehicle services and applications related to parking, fuel, travel time, locations and destinations, alternative routing as well as real-time traffic information such as traffic monitoring and alerts. It also includes vehicle insurance applications such as usage-based insurance and emergency calls.

Backseat entertainment

This is a technology many families will be eagerly looking forward to. Passengers in the backseat will be able to control their entertainment via screens on the headrests. At a given time, up to four simultaneous streams can happen. One passenger could have a Skype conversation, while the other can watch a movie. In-vehicle network connectivity technology is currently undergoing a transition allowing different passengers to have their own entertainment experience.


Ford is now in the process of inventing a Wi-Fi communication system between cars. The technology transmits the location of the car out to other cars while simultaneously picking up any surrounding vehicles, keeping everybody aware of each other. This can help tell you if it’s safe to overtake on a one-lane road or warn you of cars about to run a stop sign or any other unexpected, potentially dangerous violations.

Wi-Fi hotspot

With Wi-Fi installed in vehicles, the car itself will serve as a hotspot allowing passengers fast and reliable Internet access. Drivers can search for information on the closest petrol outlet or service station and receive real-time traffic reports. It can be used for diagnostic purposes of maintenance issues as well.


This technology will involve notifications about the vehicle being sent to a smartphone through text messages. Notifications include alarms being set off, panic button being pressed, location of the vehicle, the vehicle leaving a certain area, entering a prohibited area, exceeding a predetermined speed, being used outside a predetermined time and so on.


Look out for gesture control systems that will allow the driver to use an in-car display to switch between full and split screen mode with a simple side-to-side wave of the hand. New human-machine interfaces (HMI) offer not just entertainment, but a novel way of controlling vehicle systems such as controlling power windows, audio system volume, wipers and displaying vital information such as odometer, fuel/climate indicators of the car and so on.


Embedded computing will enable infotainment systems capable of interfacing with smartphones supporting a multitude of operating systems. Smartphone applications can control the full infotainment system along with other in-car features such as climate control, digital radio and so on.

Augmented reality

This futuristic technology can turn the windshield or passenger window into a transparent screen capable of highlighting road signs, navigation information, pointing out important landmarks and more. Toyota has recently presented its vision of an augmented reality passenger window designed to connect children in the backseat with the world outside by providing distances to objects, giving their spellings, acting as a drawing board for finger-painted images and more.

(The writer is Project Manager of Mistral Solutions)

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