New car technologies will protect and entertain you

Apple's CarPlay highlights tech industry's growing interest in cars

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

New technologies are coming soon to a ride near you, banking on faster Internet LTE connections and powerful processors to both entertain and enhance safety.

The Geneva Motor Show this week will offer Apple a venue to show off its new CarPlay technology, which will make it easier for people to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages on their iPhone while driving. Users can control CarPlay via their car's native interface or by pushing the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri, according to Apple.

Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo with CarPlay will be on display this week, while BMW, Ford, GM, Honda and Hyundai are planning to add the software down the road, according to Apple. CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, such as the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5, it said.

Here are three more advances to look out for in automotive tech:

Open Automotive Alliance Android integration

Apple isn't alone in wanting its OS to be used in cars. Earlier this year Google announced the formation of OAA (Open Automotive Alliance). Companies part of the push are Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia.

The aim is to improve integration between cars and Android devices. Google and its partners are also developing features that will enable the car to become a connected Android device, the company said in an FAQ published on the OAA website.

Google hasn't announced any details on timing beyond promising that something will become available before the end of the year. A good opportunity for the company to say more is at its I/O developer conference which starts on June 25.

Qualcomm Gobi 9x30 with LTE-Advanced

Fast modems are needed to give cars wireless connectivity, and Qualcomm is developing a new chipset that opens the door for using LTE-Advanced. The Gobi 9x30 implements a technology called carrier aggregation to reach a theoretical top speed of 300Mbps (bits per second).

Carrier aggregation allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two or more channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one. Two channels with 20MHz channels each are needed to reach 300Mbps, but operators are expected implement 20MHz plus 10MHz or two times 10MHz before then, to get download speeds of up to 225Mbps or 150Mbps.

The Gobi modem is available in small volumes to potential customers, according to Qualcomm. But the company hasn't said when the first cars with LTE-Advanced would arrive.

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