MirrorLink in 2013 – Beyond Screen Replication

Many of us immediately embrace the screen replication element of MirrorLink™. Mirroring makes the smartphone’s user interface (UI) available to the driver via the in-vehicle infotainment system (IVI). This includes not only the visual display, but audio and UI controls as well. With applications and services remaining on the smartphone, in full control of its user interface layout and behavior, this describes a major shift in how the car’s IVI connects to smartphones: MirrorLink turns the current relationship upside down by allowing the smartphone to treat the car as an accessory. An expensive accessory, though. :)

But beyond the screen replication element, MirrorLink needs to contain additional functionality that optimizes smartphone apps for use while driving and that adheres to regulation around driver distraction. This is part of the technological framework the CCC provides developers when they create MirrorLink-enabled applications. In this manner, the IVI immediately recognizes compliant applications and makes them available on the dashboard for the driver to use. It’s this very compliance that opens tremendous opportunities for new applications as well as for innovation around automotive optimized user interfaces. Innovation within MirrorLink is not limited or complicated by restrictive vehicle APIs or closed IVI environments.

Seeing more and more MirrorLink-enabled smartphones and vehicle infotainment systems reaching consumers only inspires us to continue developing and enhancing MirrorLink’s core features. As we are currently rolling out support for third-party applications, interested developers will see more and more information around tools and guidelines. Also, MirrorLink’s technical development is moving forward. In particular we will ensure that users can enjoy the same kind of experience they are used to on their smartphones, a promise at the heart of MirrorLink™ from the beginning. For example, this involves enhancing the rate at which MirrorLink™ can remote the user interface. Also, support for Wi-Fi Miracast™ will enhance the user experience via the convenience of a wireless in-vehicle connection protocol. Enabling Web technologies and further developing access to car data will give app developers even more tools to innovate and differentiate.

So stay tuned for all the new things coming. I am personally very excited and looking forward to see MirrorLink take big steps in 2013.

Jörg Brakensiek, CCC Technical Work Group Chair

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Viva Car Connectivity!

A couple weeks ago I traveled to Las Vegas on behalf of the CCC to join all the excitement surrounding the Consumer Telematics Show. Sponsored by Telematics Update, the event took place alongside the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. And I have to say I am very encouraged to see just how vital car connectivity has become to the at-large consumer electronics discussion.

First off, I spent a day meeting with various automotive, technology and consumer electronics journalists to talk about MirrorLink news – namely that we’re about to open MirrorLink to the world’s app developers. It’s always amazing to see how quickly people understand the value of an interoperable car connectivity standard. We witnessed these reactions when we started formally introducing MirrorLink to the world two years ago and they continue to happen today. Not only did everyone I spoke to at CTS immediately recognize the importance of having smartphone apps with drive mode, they were genuinely excited about it and look forward to the day when they can use the technology themselves.

In a larger sense, all of the topics on the table at the event deeply resonated with the CCC’s core mission: app development, interoperability, mobile and automotive industry convergence, collaboration with regulatory bodies, cloud content delivery to the dashboard and beyond. I was also really excited to see that many of the event’s speakers hailed from CCC member companies, including Daimler, Ford, Honda and Toyota.

Over at CES, the connected car pavilion was one of the most popular destinations for attendees. Cadillac, Chevy, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and others put their latest connected infotainment platforms on display. It’s also worth pointing out that Verizon and Mercedes jointly demonstrated their mbrace™ dashboard technology, signaling greater collaboration between the mobile and automotive industries and really championing the kind of cooperation the CCC seeks to instill in the connected car ecosystem. In addition, CCC member companies JVC and Alpine used the event as a platform to announce three new MirrorLink-enabled head units: the Alpine ICS-X7HD and JVC’s KW-NSX600 and KW-NSX700.

Finally, on the last day of CES I was able to give a full technical presentation of MirrorLink for engineers at an IEEE tutorial. As chair of the CCC’s Technical Workgroup, I always welcome the chance to speak in depth about our technology. Again, it was wonderful to witness such widespread support for MirrorLink and its core competencies.

By the end of the week, I felt completely reenergized about the state of car connectivity on today’s roads. I’m excited to see so many of our member companies well on their way to full MirrorLink deployments and I’m thrilled to see such an engaged press core and members of the public who are so eager to find greater levels of seamlessness between their cars and smartphones.

As the CCC gears up for major activities at Mobile World Congress – including a formal booth (located at 8.1J21) and a full MirrorLink DevCon (February 26, Hall 8.0, Theatre C) – it is my genuine hope that 2013 goes down as the year MirrorLink becomes a household name. If you’re planning to be in Barcelona, please stop by and say hello!

Jörg Brakensiek

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Post LA Auto Show

I just got back from the LA Auto Show and I am feeling very encouraged about the response received by MirrorLink and the Car Connectivity Consortium while there. In the two days dedicated to press activities, I gave over 25 interviews about and demonstrations of MirrorLink with the Sony XAV-701HD and my personal Nokia N9. It turns out that my regular use of MirrorLink in my personal vehicle – our trusty Toyota Highlander (known to the family as “McDuff”) – is paying off by helping my demo skills. It’s a lot easier to present something that I use and enjoy all the time in my own car. As the interviews begin to make their way into various publications, we’ll link to them on the http://www.mirrorlink.com website as well as to the Car Connectivity Consortium Facebook page.

There was also interest from attendee representatives from some of our member companies. Many of these folks hadn’t had a chance to see MirrorLink in person and it was gratifying to see them nod in appreciation and understanding as I ran through the demo. The universal opinion was one of “this just makes sense”. This seemed to be the case for everyone that saw a demo – and I must say that I have to agree.

While I didn’t have as much time to walk around and check out all the cool cars, I did make a few quick tours of the exhibit spaces. Looking at them brought back some great memories. One of my earliest recollections includes walking around new car dealerships with my Dad and looking at the cars. I think it was the new car smell – that mixture of rubber, paint, leather, and machined metal – that conjured up those thoughts.

Looking at the cars also gave me a chance to think about what MirrorLink is all about. I know that developing a technology to connect smartphones to vehicles doesn’t compare to the engineering, art and skill that goes into designing a complete car or truck, but it does offer some real satisfaction to those of us working in the CCC. If we do our jobs right in bringing this technology to the consumer – we’ll be helping drivers in some really significant ways.

The first thing MirrorLink will do is help those drivers keep more of their attention on the road. We know that people will use their phones in their cars – it’s a simple fact. When done improperly, it can be ill advised, irresponsible, and even illegal. If we create a way for people to drive and use their phones in a less distracting way the result is a clear win for everyone.

Secondly, the MirrorLink approach is great for simplifying the market. We’re doing something that is not specific to any model of car or phone. As this technology is deployed by a critical mass of phone and vehicle vendors the result is a much simpler connectivity environment for the consumer. In my walk around the show floor I noticed a remarkable number of proprietary technologies that work with some handsets, some car makes or even just some car models. The landscape the proprietary solutions create is completely frustrating for the consumer. Imagine a world with ten, twenty or more competing ways to wirelessly connect computers to the internet, it would be chaos!

As my time at the LA Auto Show was wrapping up I took a moment to look forward. It’s just three short months until Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where we will have our next major presence. Between now and then the CCC will continue with the huge effort to create a way for application developers to build and certify their apps for deployment in the MirrorLink world. While the work is challenging, the team behind the scenes is dedicated, talented and more than up for it. We know that when we succeed, we will change the way people use their smartphones in cars.

Alan Ewing

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Car Connectivity Consortium’s Summit – Interest is Strong

As many of you know, the CCC held its Summit Event in Tokyo last week. I was particularly gratified by the great turnout for the event. We had a number of challenges in completing the event planning and the fact that all the pieces of the puzzle came together was a testament to the dedication of the individuals who worked so hard in the last six weeks!

There are so many things that events like the Summit strive to accomplish. Obviously, the main objective is to formally communicate with those interested in the subject the various aspects of the technology and how it fits into a larger market. We also had meetings scheduled for the various CCC Working Groups. Our exhibition area was completely booked with companies demonstrating their products and solutions for MirrorLink. Lastly and maybe most significantly, was the opportunity for all the participants to come together, meet and engage in informal conversations about MirrorLink, CCC and the general subject of automotive connectivity.

In the case of formal communication all of our presenters did a great job in hitting the mark. Jack Bergquist of IHS provided an outstanding keynote address regarding the keys to providing successful connected services in the automobile environment. It’s astonishing to realize that in North America and Western Europe connectivity will be a part of over 75% of vehicles within 7 years. The session presenters also provided outstanding insights into different facets of the evolving connected car ecosystem. We know that people want to use their smartphones in their cars and something must be done to limit distractions for people while driving. CCC looks poised and able to help with addressing this problem!

There were three sessions where some interesting insights were provided. In the first session we heard about the EU’s view on telematics and the need for global standardization, the automotive industry’s take on how MirrorLink can lead the effort to integrate smart-phone use in the vehicle and how the GENIVI Alliance and CCC can work together to bring connectivity solutions to the public. The second session focused on making MirrorLink a reality. Presenters gave the summit participants a inside look at how the requirements for application certification are being developed, an overview of the technical requirements for MirrorLink 1.1 and guidance on the processes that will be used to certify apps. The final session was about building the ecosystem. The message here is clear – we must make the ecosystem accessible for app developers while maintaining a robust certification system. If we make the business case unattractive, the market will never have a chance to develop. Supporting this notion were discussions of the common API.

Two other areas of interest were the Working Group meetings and our exhibition area. The Working Groups met for two days in a total of four sessions. These discussions for our Core and Charter members were focused on the definition of criteria, system specifications and certification processes. The exhibition area proved to be a great success with over 12 companies presenting various MirrorLink end products, components and software elements. The demo area was open for 8 hours during the summit. The foot traffic at the booths was remarkable and there were few lulls in the activity – even during lunch. The press was also well represented at the event and took the opportunity to ask questions from the CCC’s President.

Another accomplishment of our Summit was the opportunity for members to meet and discuss their common interest in MirrorLink in a less formal setting. There were two different social events during our week. The first hosted by Toyota and Honda was for the Working Groups. The second hosted by CCC was open to all those who registered for the Summit. In each case the small discussions were numerous and undoubtedly very valuable for their participants.

The Summit had one small surprise in the form of special recognition for one of our members. Much of the heavy lifting of coordinating the discussions of how Application Certification will work has gone through one individual – Yoshi Kakihara of Sony Corporation. I have been very pleased to work with Yoshi over the last year on this important topic. It was universally recommended by the Working Group chairpersons that we show our appreciation in a public manner. Congratulations to Yoshi for his contribution to CCC and I’m sure I speak for all members of CCC that we will continue to enjoy our work with him.

Unfortunately, there is no time to enjoy the completion of a successful event. We are already planning future events, especially our presence at the LA Auto Show, the Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. All of these events will give the CCC an opportunity to give the latest news on our progress in bringing a less distracted driving experience to the roads.

Alan Ewing

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Getting Certification Started

Hi, I’m Alan Ewing, Chairman of the CCC’s Certification Working Group.  I, like Mika, work for Nokia and have been with them for almost exactly 13 years, and have been representing the company in various Industry Associations and Consortiums.  My work in the Car Connectivity Consortium promises to be particularly exciting, as it gives me a chance to bring much of the collected experience from my previous work to the MirrorLink Certification efforts.

As summer ramps down, I look back at just how much we have accomplished in preparing for Certification in the CCC.  Some of the key activities over the last several months include the approval of the Certification Program Management Document, or PMD for short.  This document, available to members, is the guideline for how the Certification Program operates and provides instructions on how to certify products.  Another key element for the program has been to identify and authorize third party test labs to perform testing for the membership.  I’m excited to say that we have had an overwhelming response from test labs all over the world to our inquiries.   We have provided training to the candidate labs on the technology and the test tools and hope to be able to start announcing our list of Authorized Test Labs in the near future.  The candidate test labs are from all three major geographical regions which will provide more convenient support for our members’ certification needs.

Another key milestone that has been achieved in the Certification Program planning and development is the deployment of the Conformance Test System (CTS) developed by jambit in Munich.  The CTS allows testing of clients and servers against the Terminal Mode specifications.  It also supports interoperability testing by providing scripts for checking functionality between servers and clients.  The CTS will continue to be developed to support future releases of the Terminal Mode specification.

A key item I have taken from my work in product certification efforts over the years is the need for an unbiased, 3rd party to make decisions regarding granting and maintaining certified status for products.  Almost every product certification program out there has this function covered in some form or fashion.  One of the best ways that I have observed is the creation of a “referee” role using an outside, technically competent person.  The CCC has created such a role known as a Certification Body.  This person is an outside contractor with no direct ties to any of the member companies.  Our Certification Body will be present at member’s meetings so make sure to introduce yourself and say “hello”.

All of the ground work paid off last week with our initial “Test Event” in Munich, Germany.  Vendors of both server and client implementations came together for conformance and interoperability testing.  The event was wildly successful and points to a bright future for MirrorLink and the Terminal Mode technology.  Thanks to all who participated and helped make the test event a great launching point for our Certification Program.

It’s been an exciting summer for the CCC Certification Program planning and preparation.  While there have been many challenges, I’m very excited about the foundation we have prepared for MirrorLink in the CCC.  I’d like to encourage member companies to join us in the Certification Working Group and to help make our Certification Program an example of the best our industry has to offer!

Best Regards,
Alan Ewing – Chairman, Certification Working Group
Car Connectivity Consortium

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News update

Press Release: Car Connectivity Consortium Drives Smartphone In-Vehicle Infotainment Adoption with MirrorLink Open Standard Solution

FRANKFURT, Germany – September 12, 2011 – The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), an organization driving global innovation for phone-centric car connectivity solutions, today announced the launch of its MirrorLink™ trademark. MirrorLink offers global solutions for connecting mobile devices to in-vehicle infotainment systems, allowing unprecedented functionality through two-way links between smartphones and in-vehicle displays.

Read more here

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