It’s that time of year again. The QNX concept team has set the wheels in motion and started work on a brand new technology concept car, to be unveiled at CES 2016.
The principle behind our technology concept cars is simple in theory, but challenging in practice: Take a stock production vehicle off the dealer’s lot, mod it with new software and hardware, and create user experiences that make driving more connected, more enjoyable and, in some cases, even safer.
It’s always fun to guess what kind of car the team will modify. But the real story lies in what they do with it. In recent years, they’ve implemented cloud-based diagnostics, engine sound enhancement, traffic sign recognition, collision warnings, speed alerts, natural voice recognition — the list goes on. There’s always a surprise or two, and I intend to keep it that way, so no hints about the new car until CES.
In the meantime, here is a retrospective of QNX technology concept cars, past and present. It’s#WheelWednesday, so instead of the usual eye candy, I’ve chosen images to suit the occasion. Enjoy.
The Maserati Quattroporte GTS
From the beginning, our technology concept cars have demonstrated how the QNX platform helps auto companies create connected (and compelling) user experiences. The Maserati, however, goes one step further. It shows how QNX can enable a seamless blend of infotainment and ADAS technologies to simplify driving tasks, warn of possible collisions and enhance driver awareness. The car can even recommend an appropriate speed for upcoming curves. How cool is that?
The Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
By their very nature, technology concept cars have a short shelf life. The Mercedes, however, has defied the odds. It debuted in January 2014, but is still alive and well in Europe, and is about to be whisked off to an event in Dubai. The car features a multi-modal user experience that blends touch, voice, physical buttons and a multi-function controller, enabling users to interact naturally with infotainment functions. The instrument cluster isn’t too shabby, either. It will even warn you to ease off the gas if you exceed the local speed limit.
The Bentley Continental GT
I dubbed our Bentley the “ultimate show-me car,” partially because that’s exactly what people would ask when you put them behind the wheel. The digital cluster was drop-dead gorgeous, but the head unit was the true pièce de résistance — an elegantly curved 17” high-definition display based on TI’s optical touch technology. And did I mention? The car’s voice rec system spoke with an English accent.
The Porsche 911 Carrera
Have you ever talked to a Porsche? Well, in this case, you could — and it would even talk back. We outfitted our 911 with cloud-based voice recognition (so you could control the nav system using natural language) and text-to-speech (so you could listen to incoming BBMs, emails and text messages). But my favorite feature was one-touch Bluetooth pairing: you simply touched your phone to an NFC reader in the center console and, hey presto, the phone and car were automatically paired,
The Chevrolet Corvette
I have a confession to make: The Corvette is the only QNX technology concept car that I got to drive around the block. For some unfathomable reason, they never let me drive another one. Which is weird, because I saw the repair bill, and it wasn’t that much. In any case, the Corvette served as the platform for the very first QNX technology concept car, back in 2010. It included a reconfigurable instrument cluster and a smartphone-connected head unit — features that would become slicker and more sophisticated in our subsequent concept vehicles. My favorite feature: the reskinnable UI.
The Jeep Wrangler
Officially, the Wrangler serves as the QNX reference vehicle, demonstrating what the QNX CAR Platform can do out of the box. But it also does double-duty as a concept vehicle, showing how the QNX platform can help developers build leading-edge ADAS solutions. My favorite features: in-dash collision warnings and a fast-booting backup display.
Well, there you have it. In just a few months’ time, we will have the honor of introducing you to a brand new QNX technology concept car. Any guesses as to what the wheels will look like?