According to a recent report from iHS, a resource of information, insight and analytics, revenue for wireless solutions in automobiles is projected at about $1.17 billion for this year. That represents a 5-percent increase since 2011. The near future projection is that expansion will continue at a steady 8 percent for the next two years.
If the trend continues, we are looking at worldwide original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market revenue for wireless technology in cars to rise to around $1.6 billion by 2018. This is up from $1.1 billion in 2012.
What is causing this acceleration in the automotive world is wireless technology like Bluetooth and embedded cellular. In the next five years, the market revenue is set to rise by 41 percent through the end of 2018.
Senior analyst for automotive infotainment at iHS, Luca DeAmbroggi, said, “In the automotive market, wireless connectivity demand is racing ahead of older wired technologies as applications increasingly focus on supporting mobile devices and cellular communications. For example, the USB legacy wired connectivity solution is being challenged by wireless mechanisms in cars such as Bluetooth for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances, as well as embedded cellular for two-way wireless telematics connectivity.”
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There are still some obstacles that will have to be overcome before wireless technology can be properly implemented. We need to take into consideration such problems as signal reception, electromagnetic interference, increasing system complexity because of varying wireless frequency spectrums, and regional differences and specifications.
There is a new solution called Smart Antenna that is now in the process of thorough evaluation. In this case, the antenna would become more of an active unit which is able to integrate several antenna technologies. They would work alongside tuners, transceivers and digital bus interfaces to connect the antenna box to a designated end device.
The two wireless technologies mentioned above will continue to drive progress in this field forward. Bluetooth will remain the standard wireless connection between consumer devices and the infotainment stack unit of a vehicle for the foreseeable future. The next generation of Bluetooth, or 4.0, will offer higher transfer speeds with the high-speed option, while ensuring that devices stay paired longer and take up less power.
Bluetooth will most likely be carried by means of a collocated 802.11 link, most likely Wi-Fi. The report shows that it is still unclear if OEMs would prefer a decoupled solution for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in cars or possibly opt for a combo approach.
The other option is the wireless technology known as embedded cellular. It is a ready to integrate communications module that offers GSM/GPRS connectivity for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. Embedded cellular is finding its way into the automotive market. The iHS report confirms that 25 percent of U.S. cars in 2012 were sold with the technology as standard equipment.
OEMs will most likely want to use embedded cellular more, both for safety and diagnostic purposes. The built-in wireless connectivity in cars will prove more robust and reliable than using a tethered or mobile device like a smartphone.
In Europe it is not so much an option. The European Union (EU) mandates that as of October 2015, all new cars would have to have an eCall device. eCall is a European initiative intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union.
Telematics solutions based on a mobile device will not be compliant with basic eCall specifications. Embedded cellular, however, will work with eCall in case of a vehicle crash. Embedded cellular can also give auto makers a way to directly communicate with customers in cases like remote software upgrades or vehicle recalls.
Among the most active players now working to enable an embedded cellular ecosystem in cars are Kia, Volvo, Daimler, BMW, Wireless Car, Vodafone and Verizon (News - Alert) through its acquisition of Hughes Telematics.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey