Car Connectivity Consortium to drive Terminal Mode

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A group of companies, drawn from both the consumer electronics and automotive industries, today announced the formation of the Car Connectivity Consortium, to help develop, maintain and promote in-vehicle connectivity solutions such as Terminal Mode, NFC and wireless charging. The stated goal of the organisation is to have "a seamless, safe, effortless and delightful user experience when using a smartphone in a car".

Technologies such as Terminal Mode and NFC are one of the likely enablers for the next generation of in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems, which will see much closer integration between existing in-car systems and personal mobile phones.

Founding members of the Car Connectivity Consortium include car manufacturers Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Toyota and Volkswagen, and mobile phone manufacturers LG Electronics, Nokia and Samsung. In addition, system suppliers Alpine and Panasonic are also among the founding members. This represents four of the top five vehicle manufacturers (collectively around 60% of all vehicles sold in 2009) and all three of the top three mobile phone manufacturers (collectively, just under 50% of all mobile phones sold in 2010). The consortium, a non-profit entity, is open to any industry member to join either as a charter member, a core member or one of two lower levels. It is expected that a number of companies will join the new consortium over the next few months.

The consortium will focus on further developing the Terminal Mode standard. This includes further development of the specifications, adding protocol and application certification tools and processes, managing a consumer trademark for Terminal Mode, defining a common connectivity technology roadmap for IVI and smartphone, maintaining  a Terminal Mode IVI reference implementation, and promoting Terminal Mode as an industry standard.

Going forward, the consortium will also start to look at new opportunities around emerging technologies that may offer new opportunities in the automotive space, such as NFC and wireless charging. It's not hard to imagine NFC being used as a connection initiator or for secure identification (e.g. touch to activate Terminal Mode, keyless drive, personal seat settings). Similarly, wireless charging in a car makes sense because people typically place their phone in the same location or holder every time they get in a car (and GPS navigation is relatively energy intensive).


Terminal Mode promotional video from Volkswagen and Nokia (N97)


Terminal Mode promotional video from RealVNC and QNX (Blackberry)

What is Terminal Mode?

We covered Terminal Mode in more detail in an earlier post on All About Symbian here, but have quoted a summary below:

  • Terminal Mode is a standard that aims to enable the next generation of mobile device and car integration systems.
  • Terminal Mode replicates a mobile device's screen on to an in-dash display (head unit); it also allows interaction from the head unit and associated controls to be sent back to the mobile device. This enables the display of, and interaction with, services and applications running on the phone. 
  • Terminal Mode consists of a set of basic protocols, enabling user-interface replications: VNC (display synchronisation), RTP and Bluetooth (audio) and UPnP (service discovery). It includes provision for driver distraction mechanisms (limiting access to features whilst driving).
  • Terminal Mode is service and device agnostic (i.e. the aim is to become an industry standard and usable on all types of devices: Blackberry, Android, iPhone and so on). However, the early implementations are likely to come on Nokia's Symbian and MeeGo devices.
  • The first Terminal Mode devices will be after market accessories sometime in 2011, followed by in-car-integrated systems in late 2012.

Supporting quotes

As is typical with industry consortium launches a number of quotes have been provided. 

Floris van de Klashorst, Director and Head of Nokia Automotive at Nokia:

"Nokia, together with NAVTEQ, understands that people want to use their smartphones everywhere including in their cars. The Car Connectivity Consortium now has the power to turn Terminal Mode into the global standard for the integration of smartphones into vehicles, bringing together the exciting and innovating worlds of mobile ecosystems and applications and with the automotive industry. The industry support we received through the members has been excellent and makes Terminal Mode a truly global effort."

Dokyun Kim, Director, Product Strategy Team at Samsung Mobile Division:

"Due to the wide consumer acceptance of smartphone and apps, Samsung expects that the smartphone will be the dominant hub for in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity. We believe that the smartphone, when connected with an in-car device, will play an important role in providing users with multimedia experience in the vehicle, and that Terminal Mode will be one of the key enabling technologies."

Said SeungHoon Lee, Vice President, Convergence Lab. at LG Electronics CTO Division:

"Vehicles are evolving to be a 'living space,' with cutting-edge technology applied. But the life-cycle of built-in car AV system is difficult to match with such fast moving trends and developments in CE/IT products. As we all recognize, the latest mobile devices are equipped with fast internet access, smart features, and more content. And as 'Car Connectivity' technology has now emerged, we clearly see the customers' demands to use the features in Vehicles. LGE expects that the Car Connectivity Consortium can lead future Automotive and IT convergence technology."