INFOTAINMENT

For more than two decades, Pi Innovo has offered infotainment engineering services including software, electronics and mechanical design. Our agile approach and broad experience in automotive product design make Pi Innovo ideally suited for unusual or specialist developments where timescales are short, commercial off-the shelf solutions are not available or the environment is not suited for a typical infotainment design specification

Pi’s experience covers a broad range of mainstream applications including AM, FM, DAB and Satellite radio solutions, as well as instrument cluster development for both Tier 1 and OEM clients.

From complex architectural analysis and representation to detailed design and development, Pi has successfully completed commercial projects for prestige vehicle manufacturers and volume Tier 1 clients.

Designing for production, Pi implemented a complex infotainment gateway for a UK OEM providing 3G, WiFi, Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST), CAN, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity.

The production development of a motorcycle radio to IP67 (TBC) included electronics, mechanical design, software development and integration of software with clients own core platform. The radio was successfully launched into production and receives ongoing support from Pi for product enhancements.

From a telematics perspective, Pi has utilized extensive powertrain knowledge in cross-over projects to analyze vehicle performance, log data and offer the data for off-vehicle processing.

Productionisation describes some of the core services offered. This often forms a key aspect of the service provided as part of a larger design and development activity, however it is also a service Pi provides as a focused offering.  One recent example is the productionisation of an image processing based safety device for Seeing Machines, a leading provider of image processing based driver safety systems.

Pi capabilities have also been applied to new innovation concepts including a complex near-infrared night vision system and a capacitive sensing system that distinguished between driver and passenger.

The majority of “silver box” infotainment solutions today sit in the relatively benign environment of a vehicle cabin.  High-end motorcycles are now offering similar infotainment content to passenger cars: hands free calling, driver to pillion communications, music player integration, music streaming and radio reception AM, FM and digital.  The motorcycle environment is somewhat more challenging though with the electronics having to withstand conditions the most adventurous riders put their motor cycles through – jet washers, harsh conditions of off-road riding and general exposure to the elements.

Pi Innovo took the lead and delivered a motorcycle infotainment solution for a Tier 1 automotive supplier to a prestigious motorcycle manufacturer, taking full responsibility from initial concepts through to a full production launch.  The product is now being manufactured in our customer’s manufacturing plant.

The final specification called for an AM/dual-FM RDS tuner with traffic message channel (TMC), mp3 music playback from USB memory stick and iPod connectivity. The specification also included the option to easily upgrade the design to include a satellite tuner. The audio output section had to connect to multiple Bluetooth enabled cycle helmets and include a Class-D amplifier for direct drive to speakers.

As an OEM option fit, the unit was designed to integrate with the vehicle CAN bus to communicate with the existing display cluster and user controls on the motorcycle.

During the extensive testing, validation and certification phases of the project, Pi Innovo engineers worked closely with our direct customer and the end customer at various sites in Europe to ensure on time completion.

Infotainment is a very agile domain.  Consumers expect the infotainment content fitted in their often very expensive vehicles to keep pace with the fast pace consumer market.  This presented a huge challenge to the vehicle manufacturers in general who necessarily have longer cycle times for product upgrades and cannot necessarily synchronize their cycle plans with the “next big thing” in the consumer tech market.  The challenge is even greater for niche vehicle manufacturers who simply cannot invest the huge sums required to continually upgrade and bespoke their offering.  This leads to gaps in feature content which renders vehicles behind the competition or worse still, become dissatisfying for customers.

Pi Innovo was able to assist a prestigious sports car manufacturer fill such a gap.  A silver box AM/FM/DAB/Sirius radio was required to replace an AM/FM only component.  The project leveraged Pi Innovo’s infotainment expertise and agile approach to deliver a production solution with a contract manufacturer, selected jointly by Pi and the customer, within six months of contract award.  Pi Innovo worked directly with the customer’s vehicle engineering team, the infotainment head unit supplier, component supply chain and the module manufacturer to assure a smooth design, manufacture and vehicle integration.

Niche vehicle manufacturers will, as far as they are able, use commercial “off-the-shelf” components to build their feature content.  Their focus when it comes to spending their development budgets will be in the areas of the vehicle which really defines their brand DNA – powertrain, ride and handling, interior look and feel.  Coupled with the desire to keep the feature content evolving without huge re-investment there is also a need to integrate new components with existing.

A vehicle manufacture wished to introduce a new high-end audio amplifier without making any changes to the head unit.  In order to allow this to be done a high fidelity digital to analogue converter was required, engineered to automotive specifications.  Pi Innovo has taken the lead to work with the system component suppliers and the vehicle engineering team to define the requirements and deliver a cost-effective design which meets the challenging commercial and packaging constraints of the target vehicle.  Additionally, Pi has worked with the contract manufacturer selected by the customer applying its specific automotive sourcing expertise to ensure competitive pricing was achieved and target prices met.

With a tier 1 client and working closely with an OEM to develop a target application Pi provided core expertise in the design and development of image processing systems for a prototype near infrared night vision system. This project included the development of a prototype camera system as well as the development of some sophisticated image processing algorithms.

A key requirement of the system was to provide an overlay of the captured image onto the real world with minimal latency. This necessitated the evolution of the algorithms from a prototype development environment to a bespoke FPGA platform utilizing a VHDL implementation.

Pi was able to deliver some complex technical electronics solutions in a relatively short timeframe, allowing the OEM and Tier 1 to demonstrate and assess the concept feasibility and support some key decision making activities.

After the developing and demonstrating an early capacitive sensing concept demonstator, Pi Innovo was engaged by an OEM to further development of an attribute prototype for use in a vehicle.

A key opportunity presented by the concept was the ability to distinguish between a passenger and the driver of a vehicle. The initial concept was evolved to allow a more complex and real-world operation, utilizing touchscreen technology as well as tailored controls.

Significant technical challenges were overcome with modifications to the seating, vehicle HMI and control interfaces to provide a reliable and robust demonstrator.  The functionality demonstrated was considered of significant interest and seriously considered for inclusion as an option for special vehicles.