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More Wi-Fi coming to cars

John Day

John Day

Posted Oct 30, 2012

The market for Wi-Fi in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) automotive applications will increase eightfold over the next seven years in North America and Western Europe according to IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc.).

The research firm notes that Wi-Fi attach rates in North America and Western Europe are relatively low at the moment but suggests that Wi-Fi will follow a trend similar to Bluetooth, with attach rates ramping-up quickly between now and 2019.

IMS senior analyst Filomena Berardi, author of the recently published study, “The Wireless Car,” observes that Wi-Fi has transitioned from a PC networking technology to a more ubiquitous connectivity solution with a strong presence in a broad range of consumer products.

The introduction of Wi-Fi Direct – Wi-Fi with the ability to make a peer-to-peer connection – created an opportunity for specific automotive applications. The most likely Wi-Fi in-car use cases, according to Berardi, are in-car hotspots, wireless screen duplication, tethering, wireless car diagnostics, and wireless software upgrading.

Another factor, she says, is that Bluetooth high speed never materialized. “This left a gap in the automotive industry that needed to be filled, but it wasn’t until 100 percent attach rates in smartphones and Wi-Fi Direct that Wi-Fi was considered to fill the void that Bluetooth high speed left.”

Berardi predicts a “fairly aggressive” uptake of Wi-Fi in vehicles. “OEMs see great opportunities for in-car use cases, and some see the recent Wi-Fi Alliance announcement regarding Wi-Fi Miracast as very exciting. It can be used in conjunction with MirrorLink for wireless screen duplication.

“There’s even talk of using Wi-Fi for camera modules and many other interesting in-car applications. These will all further drive demand by OEMs to include Wi-Fi as standard or as an optional extra. All in all, the future for Wi-Fi in the car is very promising. Wi-Fi in the car is at the beginning of its journey and in spite of this promising start and potential  – nothing in the automotive industry is straightforward.”

IHS Inc., IMS Research, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Miracast, MirrorLink

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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