EFYTimes applauds GWVectra as Convergence Of Navigation, Web And In-Vehicle Infotainment

Saturday 04 February 2012, 18:41 PM by

Texas Instruments and Interchain have developed an infotainment system for automotives that lets users communicate with their car through various networks.



Interchain Solutions and Texas Instruments (TI) recently announced GWVectra, an in-vehicle computing platform (ICP) powered by Android for dashboard entertainment as well as rear seat entertainment applications. With the unique combination of touch, voice and gesture sensing inputs on the steering wheel, the infotainment system allows users to send and receive data from the car using any device, over Wi Fi or 3G connectivity. With the help of Texas Instruments’ (TI) high-performance, applications processors based on the enhanced device architecture and integrated on TI's advanced 45-nm process technology, Interchain has used a variety of hardware to integrate the various local networks used in the car and bridge it along with the Internet.

EFYTimes applauds GWVectra as Convergence Of Navigation, Web And In-Vehicle Infotainment | CarTrade.com

Hands on Video

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A collaborative effort
TI partnered with Interchain Solutions from conception of the project and it took two years in total to complete the project. “TI engineers were involved at every step once we came on board the project for GWVectra,” comments Praveen K Ganapathy, director--business development, Texas Instruments India. He adds, “TI provided Interchain with high-performance applications processors based on the enhanced device architecture and integrated on TI's advanced 45-nm process technology--these include TI’s DM3730, TAS5424A and TI WiLink 7 WG7310 processors. The progress from stage to stage was something both teams monitored very closely.”

S Kalyanaraman, president, Interchain, agrees, “TI was involved in every stage of this project. They worked very closely with us in studying our technical specification, advising on the right components that can accomplish our expectations, sharing reference designs that use similar configuration, design reviews of the completed design, driver porting assistance and Android source and build share. We see some key advantages that we got by working with TI as their product portfolio is extremely wide. Application knowledge and timely support are two more advantages that we found unique in TI.”

Since the infotainment platform is based on the Android platform, it also provides for next-gen features like connectivity to your e-mails, Twitter, Orkut, Facebook and instant messengers, location-based news feeds, and other applications which even the driver can use without being distracted. GWVectra is also open to third-party applications, widgets and themes. For this device, Interchain used the TI DM3730, a high-performance applications processor integrated on TI's advanced 45-nm process technology. This architecture is designed to provide ARM and graphics performance, while delivering low-power consumption.

“This balance of performance and power allows the device to support a number of applications like portable data terminals, navigation, auto infotainment, gaming, medical imaging, home automation, human interface, industrial control, test and measurement and single board computers,” states Ganapathy.

He adds, “The device can support numerous HLOS and RTOS solutions including Linux and Windows Embedded CE which are available directly from TI.” For communication, GWVectra uses a single-chip solution to integrate WLAN 802.11n, GPS, FM transmit/receive and Bluetooth technologies. This reduced its costs by 30 per cent, size by 50 per cent and delivers co-existence performance as compared to today's existing solutions.

GWVectra also comprises high-end acoustics. TI and Interchain Solutions worked together on chips that were primarily meant for home audio grid performance to make it usable in a car. “Modifying it to suit a car meant overcoming many challenges,” Sunderam states. It uses a four-channel digital audio amplifier designed for use in automotive head units and external amplifier modules. This amplifier provides four channels at 23 W continuously into 4 Ω at less than 1 per cent THD+N from a 14.4-V supply. Each channel can also deliver 38 W into two Ω at 1 per cent THD+N. The amplifier employs differential inputs for increased immunity to common-mode system noise. The digital PWM topology of the TAS5414A and TAS5424A provides dramatic improvements in efficiency over traditional linear amplifier solutions. This reduces the power dissipated by the amplifier by a factor of 10 under typical music playback conditions. The WiLink 7.0 single-chip solution is the industry's first offering to integrate WLAN 802.11n, GPS, FM transmit/receive and Bluetooth technologies.

Built on seven generations of technologies and legacy software, this single-chip solution further extends TI's heritage of bringing technologies previously seen in high-end devices to the broad mobile market. Moreover, integrated in-house applications like +iKnowyou and +vPredict help identify the person who is driving and set their preferences in music, speakers arrangement etc. Interchain is currently looking to collaborate with automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India.

Key Technologies

Interchain addresses the battle between Smart phones and Smart infotainment by providing all the capabilities on the software stack to share connectivity, content, preferences and data with other smart phones, laptops and PMP devices like Apple iPod. GWVectra design relies on the goal that the user should be able to utilize all the features of the system with a combination of his natural communication including gestures, touch, speech, etc just not limiting to a touch screen interface. In case of In-Dash applications, the platform focuses on ensuring that the driver's attention is preserved in driving and not in viewing and operating the screen. To achieve this, Interchain has leveraged on its home grown technologies to heavily simplifying the complexity of Android platform, which is usually targeted towards technical audience.

 Web information 5

Web information 4Web information 3

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a) vConnect, Connectivity sharing from and to phones

b) uSpeak, Optimized Voice Recognition Stack

c) vSee, Video based Gesture Recognition Input

d) iKnowYou, Passenger identification and communication system

e) vPredict, Fuzzy logic based user preferences prediction system

The user interface is focused only towards the minimalistic features that a user might use in the car. Leveraging on all these technologies, GWVectra gives the users a completely fresh interface inside the car for in vehicle infotainment.

The TI advantage

With the race to deliver the best features in new cars escalating, automotive infotainment systems now form key focus areas in automotive electronics design. To support the growing importance of automotive infotainment, Texas Instruments claims to offer a strong product portfolio and design tools. TI’s broad analogue and digital embedded and applications processing portfolio provides improved audio quality and system speed, efficient power management and low-power consumption for applications such as car audio, navigation systems, power supply, as well as in-car and personal entertainment.

Customers working with TI have access to a few key advantages that are unique to TI. These advantages help customers come up with cutting-edge applications and get to market faster. TI has a broad portfolio of products that cover all design requirements of customers. TI is the only semiconductor company in India to have sales and applications offices across locations including small cities like Nashik and Chandigarh. TI also has an efficient partner/distributor channel eco-system in place to reach out to customers across the country.

The TI engineer-to-engineer (E2E) community is an open network of engineers and TI experts who collaborate by asking and answering technical questions, sharing knowledge, exploring new ideas and solving problems. The TI engineering community is comprised of technical support forums for nearly all TI products, industry-focused blogs written by TI experts and thousands of product and application videos. Apart from this, Texas Instruments India also has a 24-hour helpline service for queries.

Communication over various networks

GWVectra’s communication infrastructure is capable of leveraging over any analogue and digital communication methodology including WiFi, Bluetooth, WiMAX, Radio Frequency (RF), ultra high frequency (UHF), very high frequency (VHF) etc. S Kalyanaraman, president, Interchain, shares, “This range of connectivity opens up opportunities to include applications to allow vehicle-to-vehicle communication where one vehicle gathers information from other vehicles like position, speed, drive mode, security alerts and much more. This makes it possible for commuters to interact with each other using mediums such as voice calls, text messages, alerts, greetings, games and video calls.”

Infotainment systems combine entertainment, multi-media and driver information functions in one module. Communication interfaces allow data exchange between independent electronic modules in the car, the remote sub modules of the infotainment system as well as external devices like USB memory or video sources. The infotainment device can interact with any other electronic or communication device, like mobile phones or laptops, which the user carries. “Communication with mobile phone was possible earlier, but it was limited to the functionality of just answering calls and reading text messages. Here, GWVectra can synchronise information, perform data communication and exchange information gathered in the vehicle,” informs Vishnu Sunderam, chief technology officer, Interchain. The system has used engine control units (ECU) in the vehicles - i.e. computing devices that control the functioning of the engine and vehicle characteristics.

“GWVectra interacts with the ECU and provides the user interface with a host of data. It also allows users to control the ECU ECU leveraging on the on-board diagnostics (OBD), media oriented systems transport (MOST) and controlled area network (CAN) communication capabilities,” Vishnu reveals.

About Interchain

Interchain, a product company focused towards In-Vehicle hardware and software products is proud to launch a customized Android platform for In-Dash and Rear Seat Entertainment applications. Interchain has spent over 2 years in the development of the customized hardware and software platform christened "GWVectra" which is now ready for OEM adoption. More info on Interchain at www.interchainsol.com

About Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments TI is a semiconductor giant with key focus in single chip solutions covering multiple sub systems such as processor, graphics, DSP, etc. TI also specializes in Analog, Power and Audio in addition to processors. More info on TI at www.ti.com