DENSO’s Blue Harmony is among the more recent in-vehicle communications and infotainment systems to hit the market. Like others in the space, Blue Harmony promises compatibility with current and future devices for consumers who want to stay connected while in their car.
DENSO says Blue Harmony will allow drivers to access their consumer electronics devices and off-board information and services safely. Features include voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free calling, Internet radio, messaging, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, plus 802.11 WLAN support for connecting portable devices. Consumers will be able to customize display settings in various ways.
Phil Magney, vice president of iSuppli’s automotive research practice, sees Blue Harmony, Visteon’s Connected Car, Continental’s AutoLinQ, and other similar systems as a logical evolution based on smartphone innovation and the overwhelming success of the app store concept. “We have seen this coming for several years but this year marked the tipping point – especially at the Consumer Electronics Show,” he notes.
“The value chain for telematics has shifted to the consumer and what is possible with a mobile device,” Magney says. “Automakers and suppliers are looking closely at the apps model and trying to speculate on whether it will work in automotive. At a minimum, the lessons learned from the smartphone market point to a future where openness means the ability to add, change, and modify your infotainment solutions.”
Magney cautions that while new infotainment platforms will support increased flexibility in terms of applications, a wide-open environment may not be sustainable due to safety, distraction, and usability issues. Ford and Continental are among those who have embraced the app concept, but both say they will control what apps are usable. “Continental refers to ‘controlled openness,’ but everyone seems to be on the same page in this regard,” he notes.
That’s a good thing, because right now it’s the skeptical consumers who are speaking the loudest.