Inside the LTE Connected Car

June 30, 2010

On the outside, the white Toyota Prius looks like an unassuming concept car. But sit inside and you’ll see why it’s known as the LTE Connected Car. We recently got to sit down inside this mobile network on wheels. It was developed by the NG Connect Project, a collaboration between hardware, software and content providers, the LTE Connected Car was designed to be ready for upcoming 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks when the ultra-fast digital wireless speeds become available.Every passenger in the car gets a touch-screen monitor in the LTE Connected Car. Plus there’s one in the center console for the driver. These touch screen tablet computers offer each seat its own customized set of services. So, while the driver gets directions a from Google Earth app, two in the back seat can play a networked game of Unreal Tournament with friends online while the passenger makes a streaming Internet radio selection.

The project began with Alcatel Lucent, the company recruited veteran mobile OS designer QNX to develop the in-car operating system. QNX was recently purchased by RIM, developer of the BlackBerry.

The Connected Ecosystem

The NG Connect project is one of the few (almost) fully realized automobiles integrating the cloud ecosystem, that’s the buzzword for the myriad of overlapping services used in every-day life that are connected through the Internet. The ecosystem mindset lets you define when and where you want to interact with any device, place or service that is connected to the Internet.

So, what NG Connect is working toward is a scenario where a service on your computer or app on your smartphone has access to real-time diagnostics on your car, telling you its location, battery or fuel levels and when it needs its next oil change.

Conversely, from inside the car you’ll be able to check up on your connected home and make sure you turned off the stove and even check security cameras. Inside your connected home, your connected refrigerator (also potentially part of the same ecosystem) will tell your car that your milk has already expired and you’re out of coffee cream, a quick detour to the store becomes a little more efficient.

IMS Joins NG Connect

Recently, NG Connect has brought aboard an important new partner in IntelligentMechatronic Systems (IMS). The company is from Waterloo, Ontario the same Canadian city that gave us BlackBerry developer Research in Motion (RIM). The BlackBerry maker bought QNX just prior to IMS’s involvement in NG Connect, demonstrating to us that there’s nothing like a familiar face, or in IMS’s case – a familiar voice.

One of the key technologies IMS has developed is giving a voice to the BlackBerry with a device called iLane. The IMS invention provides drivers with a voice interface to their smartphone. With driver distraction such a hot issue these days it’s likely the voice interface experience of IMS could be what the LTE Connected Car is looking for.

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