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CE Devices in the Fast Lane


Smart phones have already greatly influenced the direction of not just mobile phone handsets, but also the design and feature-rich environment of tablets, the hottest CE device on the market presently.  Next stop?  Your car.



The end-user demands for user interfaces (UI), user experiences, and new features (from low power consumption to multi-tasking and lightning quick boot ups) is a truly (and positively) disruptive change for the electronics industry and the semiconductor industry.  The most recent MarketWatch Quarterly focuses on not only the consumer electronics and design aspects of this disruptive technology, but also the effect on a subset of major components (available to subscribers now and in early Nov. to the general public).


The pervasiveness of the demand for the smart phone UI experience by all types of end-users (consumer, corporate, industrial, manufacturing, healthcare, education, etc.) is spreading now to all types of devices.  The successful design transition to tablets has certainly paved the way to one of the next most frequently used electronic devices, the automobile.

One example of new electronics changing automotive designs is the wider set of MEMS and related gyroscopes and accelerometers having not only made a successful transition into automotive electronics, but also having become a mandate in many countries for improving safety and emissions standards of vehicles.  MEMS simultaneously was adopted into leading smart phones, resulting in pushing those handsets to the top of the ladder.

What's next?  Well, is there a safe way to text or communicate through social media and drive?  Aside from the 'why?' question, the answer is, purportedly, 'yes.'  As iSuppli recently reported here, the automotive industry recognizes the UI as a demand driver and is already designing in voice-based means for continuing the UI from the smart phone and/or tablet device to the car (cf. this article from EETimes Asia for another spin on the auto-smart phone convergence: the car as wireless charging device for smart wireless devices).

Beyond the voice-texting while you drive functionality, there is a new class of dedicated processors to support more UI-driven designs for individualizing auto-infotainment (from dashboards and instrument monitoring to audio, video and navigation applications).  Among the frontrunners in these latest processors are those by Freescale and based on ARM's Cortex-A8 core, as reported here by EETimes Europe. Of importance is that these processors "include a 400MHz external memory interface [supporting…] dual parallel display ports" among a set of high performance display and audio interfaces.  Furthermore, these "devices are part of the Freescale Product Longevity program, with 15 years of assured supply."  This last point indicates that these designs are not just a fad, but that UI driven auto-infotainment capabilities are truly among the next automobile feature differentiators.

Bottom line: continued growth opportunities for semi in automotive as chip content continues to rise in vehicles.  Welcome in the 'smart car'.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 12:28 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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