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7 November, 2013 - 12:18 By News Desk

Plextek drives car multimedia technology

Nicholas Hill, project leader at Plextek Consulting

Cambridge UK technology hothouse Plextek Consulting has supported Clarion Malaysia with the design of the new AX1 - a full automotive grade connected car multimedia system optimised for the Android™ operating system.

The system has a range of cutting-edge features including internet browsing, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® audio-video streaming and an online music APP store™, all controlled through a user-friendly touchscreen interface that works like a smartphone.

Plextek’s product design and embedded software expertise has been key to helping Clarion Malaysia overcome the design challenges involved in getting automotive grade reliability from the Android™ OS at a consumer-friendly price point.

Most in-car entertainment systems on the market today are closed, proprietary systems, which can only be modified by the manufacturer. These are considered restrictive by drivers who would like to update or customise their centre unit with the latest content and apps just as they do with their smartphones or tablets.

Despite its huge consumer popularity and vibrant apps market place, Android™ poses a number of inherent challenges when applied to an in-car system, the biggest being power management. As Android™ is designed for battery-powered mobile devices it is not well equipped to deal with intermittent or disrupted power supplies, as happens for example when a car engine is started.

Plextek was able to address this issue by designing the AX1’s processor board with a number of peripherals and intelligent power controls to prepare the Android™ system for the automotive power environment and by adapting Android™’s power management to cope with the demands of automotive operation.

Plextek’s design input also enabled the AX1 system to overcome the challenge of interfacing broadcast receivers for AM/FM and DAB to customised Android™, which makes no provision for broadcast receivers and assumes that all audio and video media are either stored locally or accessed over the internet.

Nicholas Hill, project leader, Plextek Consulting, said: “Plextek has been involved in the design of a number of Clarion products and this latest in-car system brings together industrial quality hardware with the Android™ OS to deliver the functionality and connectedness of a smartphone or tablet to the driver.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Nicholas Hill

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