So you may have never heard of QNX, but you likely interface with it on a daily basis, given you have a car with a computer-based infotainment system (Toyota Entune, BMW ConnectedDrive, GM’s OnStar, etc.). QNX is essentially to a car what Windows is to a PC – it allows the software and hardware to do their delicate exchange of ones and zeros to turn them into what you see on the screen.
QNX is actually in development of its second-generation operating system, which it has dubbed QNX CAR 2. This may sound like just another small and meaningless software changeover, but CAR 2 will include something that may revolutionize automotive infotainment systems – an HTML 5-based interface.
As it sits now, QNX builds the OS, but the manufacturer works the front end of its software in its own way, leaving the customer out of the equation. The HTML 5 interface will allow the manufacturer to set up the basic functions of the infotainment systems, but ultimately allow you to customize it as you see fit.
Additionally, the usage of HTML 5 will also help lower the gap between consumer electronics and automotive electronics, which currently have a 7- to 10-year gap between product cycles. Heck, your laptop is obsolete before you ever walk out of the store, yet some cars run the same cruddy infotainment systems they did in 2005.
Another huge relief that HTML 5 would bring to the automotive world would be the development of apps. As it stands now, cars are much like the iPhone – you have to buy licensed apps from the app store, which cost loads of money over time. With the introduction of HTML 5, you get the option of more open-source apps, like you do with an Android-based smartphone or tablet. No, we’re not trying to start a Mac vs. Android war; we’re just stating the obvious.
In turn, all of this should – theoretically – make bringing more advanced infotainment systems to the consumer at a lower price.
QNX expects to see CAR 2 start being used sometime in 2013 or 2014. We’ll keep an eye on this and bring you more information as it becomes available.
Check out the above video to see QNX CAR 2 in action, it’s pretty awesome.