A few minutes ago, QNX announced a new concept car, which it will showcase this week at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Mind you, this isn't the company's first concept car. It has already created a couple of them, including a specially modified Chevrolet Corvette. If you ask me, the QNX concept team did a pretty cool job with the Vette. But this time, they went cooler.
The new car, based on a Porsche Carrera, comes equipped with an array of features, including one-touch smartphone pairing, tablet-based rear-seat entertainment, high-definition hands-free calls, and a reconfigurable digital instrument cluster. But hey, you can read all that in the press release! So instead, let's take a virtual tour of the car, using some of the first available photos...
To get started, hop into the driver's seat — but before you do, note the QNX logo deftly emblazoned on the driver-side door:
Once you get behind the wheel, the first thing you'll see is the digital instrument cluster:
It's too bad I don't (yet) have a video of the cluster. Because if I did, you'd see how it can dynamically reconfigure itself — in response to voice commands, no less. It even communicates with the navigation system to display turn-by-turn directions. Cool, that.
The head unit
Now look to your right, and you'll see the head unit. Here is the unit's main screen, from which you can access all of the system's key functions:
And here's another screen, showing the system's media player:
The tablet integration
Now, I know you're just getting comfortable, but let's step out and take a bird's-eye view of the car. As you can see, it comes equipped with two BlackBerry PlayBook tablets to demonstrate backseat entertainment. But what you can't see is the very cool integration between the tablets and the head unit. For instance, the head unit provides front-seat control of the backseat entertainment — great for when you want to control what your kids are watching or listening to. Better yet, any device can play videos and music stored on any other device. The head unit, for example, could play what's stored on the right tablet, or vice versa. And it all happens seamlessly.
The cool stuff you can't see
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these photos don't capture everything. For instance, the car also features:
One-touch Bluetooth pairing — Lets you pair a phone to the car simply by touching the phone to the car's NFC reader; no complicated menus to wade through
Conversational voice recognition — Lets you enter navigation destinations naturally, without having to use artificially constrained grammars
Text-to-speech integration — Can read aloud incoming email, SMS, or BBM messages
Ultra HD voice technology — Uses 48KHz full stereo bandwidth for clearer, better-sounding hands-free calls
The car also runs a ton of applications, including TCS hybrid navigation, Vlingo voice-to-text, Poynt virtual assistant, Weather Network, and streaming Internet radio from Pandora, NoBex, Slacker, and TuneIn.
The point of the concept car isn't just to be cool, but to show automakers (and everyone else, for that matter) what's possible in next-gen car infotainment systems. More to the point, the car is designed to showcase the new QNX CAR 2 application platform, which introduces a new HTML5 framework to help automakers "keep their vehicles fresh with new content and features, address consumer demands for the latest mobile apps and services, and leverage a huge developer community." I'm quoting from the QNX CAR 2 press release, which also hit the newswire today. You can read it here.
The rest of the week
I expect the car will garner a fair amount of media coverage, so stay tuned: I'll post links as the week progresses. And while you're at it, subscribe to the QNX auto blog, which will also discuss what QNX is doing this week at CES.