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Why MirrorLink is worth watching

John Day

John Day

Posted Oct 7, 2011
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Suppose you were a smartphone app developer with customers who would love to be able to use your product(s) in their cars and could do so without significant driver distraction. You could wear out a lot of metaphorical shoe leather calling on each automaker individually, in each geographic market, and it wouldn’t take you long to wonder if there weren’t a better way.

Or suppose your job were to help an OEM select and enable smartphone apps. Wouldn’t it be nice if you and the apps vendors were all on the same page regarding display standards? Is there a better way?

There isn’t a better way at the moment, but the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) appears to be heading in a good direction, and they believe that in as little as a year an automotive apps infrastructure, including technology and a process for apps certification, could be in place.

Allowing smartphones to work safely and effectively in cars requires a collaborative effort by the smartphone and auto industries, and in the past six months or so the CCC says it has attracted members accounting for about 60 percent of each camp. Two members, Nokia and Alpine, have introduced products – a phone and a head unit, respectively – based on the initial CCC specification. Those products should be available in November.

The CCC also made a significant adjustment in its marketing effort, replacing the rather geekish Terminal Mode with a new name – MirrorLink – and a logo that it hopes consumers will recognize and eventually trust. Last month the CCC released a new spec, 1.1, that will allow smartphones to make use of data from the car, include improvements for Wi-Fi performance, and allow automakers to specify which apps can or cannot work in their vehicles.

CCC managers concede that setting up the app certification process is a huge to-do item and myriad questions remain to be answered, but they note that their smartphone members have been there and done that. It should be interesting to see how well that experience translates. The potential benefits for developers, OEMs and consumers are significant.

Wi-Fi, automotive apps, Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), Alpine, smartphone "apps", Terminal Mode, MirrorLink, Nokia

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News (johndayautomotivelectronics.com) 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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