Automotive Innovation Helps Achieve The Best Seat In The HouseAutomotive Innovation Helps Achieve The Best Seat In The House

There's always been something magical about the car. From the earliest days of automotive transportation...when that "wind in the hair" experience was due to vehicles not having roofs...to today's sophisticated luxury rides. Getting behind the wheel still gets the blood racing for many of us. It may be as simple as the appreciation of being able to easily transport oneself from point A to point B. It may be the feeling of authority, of being in charge, of so many "horses." Or it may be the sense of satisfaction as you pilot your vehicle deftly through your neighborhood universe. Whatever makes your ride a thrill, one thing is certain...your position of authority in the captain's seat has taken on a greater sense of importance. At least you'd think so, given the immense amount of technology and information now available at your fingertips.

Our driving experience is becoming revolutionized. Long gone are the days when your simple instrument panel included a mechanical cluster with a speedometer, odometer and gas gauge. Sitting in the captain's throne is a lesson in amazement as high-tech automotive instrument panels are electronic marvels, providing a wealth of digital data, information and directions, all at the touch of a button or through voice-activated commands.

Automotive instrument panels are beginning to move away from mechanical instrument clusters to more robust LCD-based displays that offer simulated instrumentation and a variety of other driver-information applications (rearview and blind spot cameras, GPS navigation, and real-time traffic and weather information). Accordingly, automotive system designers are looking to electronics vendors to provide hardware/software solutions with the right combination of image processing horsepower and easy application development to get digital instrument panel solutions to market.

Behind the car instrument panel is the true brains of the system, an automotive instrument cluster control system powering all analog gauges, displays, LED warning lights and sound signals. Its primary functions are communicating with external data sources and controlling data output devices. With the number of data sources on the rise and the increasing use of in-vehicle connectivity, instrument cluster control systems are providing limited gateway functionality.

Long gone are the days when all you had to control was the AM radio. Today's vehicles have climate control, GPS navigation, wireless hands-free cell phone capability ...and seemingly 75 to 100 different knobs on an instrument panel. Naturally, the concern is that you're spending less time with your eyes on the road. Some suppliers are consolidating these dozens of controls into a single knob that controls eight functions, including climate, entertainment and navigation. Such technology can locate controls of the greatest importance around the steering wheel and set most other functions on the single controller mounted on the center console.

Having the best seat in the house, or in this case the car, should afford you with premium options - from music and entertainment to in-vehicle connectivity. The electronic ingenuity now available helps achieve the standard desired by today's automotive industry. One thing that's indisputable in our modern, mobile lifestyle is that we're constantly seeking new ways to enjoy and take our digital content with us wherever we go. Unfortunately, this has not always been possible because severe road conditions, temperature extremes and constant vibrations have limited the amount and type of media you could use in your car. Breakthrough advances in storage technology, however, are now producing hard drives rugged enough to stand up to the rigors of the road. This is revolutionizing the entertainment and navigation capabilities that you enjoy on the road.

Today's storage solutions let you bring your living room entertainment experiences on the road. Imagine you are leaving on a road trip with your family to enjoy a few days up north. Before leaving the driveway, you wirelessly sync your car's hard drive with your home network. By the time everyone is buckled up, you've loaded the family's newest music, photos, a few TV shows and some favorite movies right into your car's instrument panel.

Taking your digital content with you in the car means you have instant access to all of your digital music, not just a portion of it, while you're driving. The days of rifling through a cache of CDs tucked into your sun visor are a distant memory. You've got the music you'd like to hear right here, right now. At the same time, the crew sitting in the cheap seats can play movies and video games in the back. And, as real-time wireless content becomes more widely available, you'll be able to download music and movies straight into your car.

As maps grow more complex, map databases, especially 3-D maps, take up too much space to store on a CD or DVD. High-capacity hard drive storage solutions create a richer navigation experience, with features like 3-D maps, photos of your destination and animated directions.

Innovations in storage technology are changing the way we experience digital content both at home and in our cars. With the advances in navigation and on-the-road entertainment empowered by digital storage, your driving experience will never be the same…except you still have the best seat in the house. It's good to be the captain of this ship!
by Mike Trudel
References and Bibliography
Mike Trudel, Freelance Writer. Delphi Corporation is poised to apply its expertise and know-how to provide vehicle manufacturers and consumers with in-vehicle entertainment and connectivity. To learn more about Delphi Corporation, please visit www.Delphi.com/4Connected.
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