A consortium of companies including Alcatel-Lucent and Toyota present the cloud-enabled LTE Connected Car, a concept vehicle. Equipped with four touch screens, the car lets users access not only navigation and car status applications, but also online music, video and social networking. Companies ranging from Ford to Microsoft have been working on ways to add more IT functionality to vehicles.
The best way to think about the LTE Connected Car, a proof-of-concept
vehicle displayed for reporters in New York
Nov. 3, is that it's a smartphone on wheels.
Just as multifunctional devices such as the Apple iPhone or the Palm Pre
have taken the traditional function of a phone-making calls-and added all sorts
of other features such as music and video, the LTE Connected Car takes the
automobile-four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine-and loads it
with, well, music and video.
For a look inside the LTE Connected Car, click here.
The concept car features four touch screens, through which driver and
passengers can access navigation, entertainment, communications and vehicle
diagnostics applications. A variety of companies, including Alcatel-Lucent,
Atlantic Records, QNX Software Systems and Toyota, collaborated in bringing
their particular expertise to bear on the vehicle. At the Nov. 3 event,
representatives from those companies claimed to be in talks with automakers about
putting the technology into upcoming vehicles, although they declined to name
names or offer any sort of road map.
Nonetheless, if you ever wanted to watch a YouTube video of stupid hamster
tricks while driving down a federal highway at 55 mph, your chance could be
The ability to watch movies or play games, fortunately, is not available on
the driver's screen whenever the car is in "Drive" mode.
For the other passengers, though, the combination of Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband radio
link and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi environment allows access to video on demand,
music, social networking (Facebook status: "Stuck in traffic.
Again."), gaming and other services. The touch screens' colorful graphics
even give adjusting speakers and temperature within the vehicle a vaguely
"Star Trek" feel.
For the driver in motion, the LTE Connected Car allows access to navigation,
and can add points-of-interest overlays to the touch-screen map provided by
in-vehicle GPS. In other words, if you're
driving and want to find the nearest restaurant or gas station, the vehicle
will feed you that information.
The car's IT infrastructure will also take information from sensors located
around the vehicle, providing real-time updates on maintenance status. If your
left tire is a little underinflated, the touch screen will alert the driver to
Although the LTE Connected Car is currently only a concept, automakers have
been adding a number of IT bells and whistles to street-ready vehicles. For
has built features into its vehicles
such as a 76GHz radar system-which the
automaker claimed in a presentation is the same technology used in F-22 fighter
jets-to alert the driver to obstacles.
Ford also developed a MyKey feature that lets a parent program vehicle keys
to enable default modes for specific drivers. MyKey can limit a chosen driver's
speed to 60 mph, and even limit the volume level of the car's speakers. On top
of that, Microsoft's Traffic, Directions and Information Sync application can
bring the driver everything information such as driving directions and traffic
Chip manufacturers are also exploring ways to port their products to the
automotive world. In March, Intel rolled out a series of Intel
Atom processors designed for in-vehicle systems.
Paired with the Microsoft
Auto software platform, the processors can power features such as mobile device
integration and speech recognition.
"We're excited to see them introducing new low-power-consumption Intel
Atom processors targeted for in-vehicle systems," Greg Baribault, director
of product management for the Automotive Business Unit at Microsoft, said in a
statement at the time of the Intel processor release. "Intel Atom
processors and the Microsoft Auto software platform will provide scalability
for the new era of advanced in-vehicle solutions."
Those solutions, as with the LTE Connected Car, could eventually assist
drivers with navigation and vehicle status-monitoring ... and passengers in
watching the latest YouTube clips.