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Harman brings Linux based IVI to entry-level cars

Jan 8, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,131 views

Harman’s Linux-based IVI system for entry-level cars integrates Aha Analytics, and supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and MirrorLink connectivity.

A year ago at CES, Harman announced a Linux-based in-vehicle infotainment system featuring an HTML5 development environment, a type 1 hypervisor, and integration with driver assist functions. Now the company is offering a simpler IVI system for entry- to mid-level cars across a “diverse range of international markets and vehicle classes,” says the company. The device similarly runs on Linux and is aimed at OEM sales

Harman’s earlier
premium IVI system

“The era of the basic AM/FM/CD radio is essentially dead, and automakers are upgrading their in-dash offerings to incorporate connectivity,” stated Sachin Lawande, president, Harman Infotainment Division.

Last year Harman, which is a member of both the GENIVI Alliance and the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux AGL working group, said that its higher-end system complied with the Linux Foundation’s AGL reference platform. This would suggest it might use a Tizen OS, which is the initial go-to stack for AGL. This time, the company just says the system is “automotive grade” and that it offers a flexible Linux OS framework.

The system is notable for supporting the three main integration frameworks for controlling mobile devices on an IVI touchscreen: Android Auto (Android), Apple CarPlay (iOS), and the cross-platform MirrorLink. A number of Android Auto compatible systems were announced this week at CES, including Parrot’s aftermarket RNB6 IVI system that also runs Android 5.0 natively.

Also this week, the GENIVI Alliance, which defines guidelines for open source Linux systems, announced it would deliver an open interface to Android Auto. GENIVI’s open source middleware will be extended to support Android Auto integration functions for authentication, audio, video, touchscreen input, and microphone interaction, says the consortium. GENIVI says it will fund the development and will release the interface code with an open source license, but noted that Android Auto deployment requires a licensing arrangement with Google.

Harman’s Aha Analytics

Optional software components include Harman’s Aha Analytics, which aggregates and analyzes information collected through opt-in data sharing from the car’s IVI and on-board diagnostics.

Aha Analytics screens for temperature control (left) and fuel levels
(click images to enlarge)

The vehicle data can support a wide array of applications, including reliable safety and lost vehicle services, location services, and remote vehicle diagnostic monitoring capabilities, says Harman. Meanwhile, Harman Cloud Services offer over-the-air (OTA) updates, a feature also announced at CES for its premium IVI systems.

Hardware details

Harman’s provided few detailed specs or hardware images on the hardware, perhaps because the entry-level IVI system is so scalable and highly customizable, designed to support a wide variety of global requirements.

For its user interface, the system can utilize either an in-dash head unit or a user’s Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. “Whether automakers want to offer a ‘bring your own device’ solution that leverage the smartphone, or a more integrated and seamless solution, our scalable infotainment platform offers the essential building blocks for a connected car solution together into a flexible, cost effective design,” states Harman’s announcement.

The system is available with either a 6.5- or 7-inch touchscreen with 800 x 480 WVGA resolution, but the graphics subsystem can support up to 720p HD video (1280 x 720 resolution), says Harman. Other options include scalability up to multi-touch and swipe capability, suggesting that both resistive touch and higher-end capacitive touch technologies are supported.

The device runs Linux on “the latest multi-core system-on-chip hardware,” says Harman. WiFi appears to be optional, while Bluetooth is standard. A USB port with up to 2.1A charging capability is available, in addition to a standard auxiliary stereo audio input jack. There’s also an integrated amplifier, voice echo cancellation and noise reduction, an AM/FM tuner with scan diversity, and off-band TMC capability.

A CAN bus interface for ECU and steering wheel button controls is also available. Other options include SD slots, satellite radio extensions, Harman’s own Clari-Fi audio restoration technology, and certified rearview backup camera support. Optional safety and convenience features include on-board 3D navigation and speech recognition.

Further information

Harman’s entry-level infotainment solution is now available to automakers. More information is available in the Harman entry-level IVI announcement.

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