Connected Car: Embedded or Not?

General Motors and AT&T are demonstrating LTE connected cars at Mobile World Congress, to show off what might be possible, from streaming live videos or security cameras on the road, to games and vehicle to vehicle communications. Or, the car could just offer up a 4G LTE hot spot for tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

General Motors Vice Chairman Steve Girsky spoke Monday to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and announced the widest deployment of 4G LTE services in vehicles.

AT&T and GM’s OnStar this week announced a deal to bring millions of connected cars to the market, starting with the 2015 fleet, which comes out late 2014. GM said most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac cars will get wireless connections.

“Developers will be able to take full advantage of 4G LTE speeds as they design vehicle-specific apps, and they can pursue development knowing that they’ll have a broad base of potential customers as connectivity is built-in across GM brands and regions,” said Mary Chan, president of General Motors’ global connected consumer unit. .

Ford opposes embedded wireless, according to Fierce Wireless. Ford instead believes users should connect their cars to the network through their existing smartphone.

Ford’s Sync technology, first introduced in 2007, connects a user’s smartphone to their car and powers a range of services through the phone’s wireless connection.

“The last thing we want to do is take this smartphone thing that updates every 12-18 months and bolt it into a car with a lifecycle of at least 10 years,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of Connected Services Solutions at Ford Motor Company

General Motors, by contrast, will embed AT&T’s LTE modems into its cars, requiring another cellular fee.

Ford Motor Company expanded its commitment to help encourage the growing community of automotive app developers by announcing it will contribute the software for AppLink, the Ford-developed in-car smartphone app interface, to the GENIVI Alliance.

Ford becomes the first American automaker to contribute proprietary source code from one of its products to an open-source project. In addition to Ford’s contribution to SmartPhoneLink, which lets you use your voice to control some of your favorite mobile apps while driving, navigation services provider Telenav and embedded software development firm Luxoft have committed to contribute supporting code to the new SmartPhoneLink projects. –

In another wrinkle, an FCC ruling to expand the Wi-Fi band at 5 GHz, is on a collision course with The Intelligent Transportation Society of America who complains that it was originally set aside that spectrum for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications. ITS America recently sent a letter to the FCC signed by automakers and others, warning the FCC that the new Wi-Fi networks could interfere with wireless communication between connected cars.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January his agency’s plan to clear 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for Wi-Fi use. The Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) was allocated 75MHz of spectrum in the 5.9GHz band by the FCC in October 1999.

Telematics Update has the latest on navigation, infotainment and fleet management.

According to Jack Bergquist of analyst firm IHS: “By the end of 2014, for some of the bigger brands, every vehicle they sell will offer some sort of connectivity.” According to Machina Research, 90 percent of new passenger cars are expected to have some form of connectivity platform by 2020. In addition, the firm forecasts that the connected car market will reach $600 billion by 2020, making it the largest market for connected devices and services.

Human Powered Helicopter Flight Today

Students from the University of Maryland hope to keep a human-powered helicopter aloft for at least one minute today and win one of the most elusive prizes in aviation, the $250,000 Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter prize.

The 71-pound Gamera II is powered by a combination of hand and foot pedaling by a single pilot, who must keep the four-rotor helicopter aloft for 60 seconds and reach an altitude of at least 3 meters (9.8 feet) to win.

The Gamera II team already holds the record for the longest human-powered flight, at 65 seconds, and the highest altitude, at 9 feet, following a flight last summer but so far has not met all of the requirements of the Sikorsky prize in a single flight.

That could change today when the team attempts another flight. They can be followed on their Twitter feed.

Digital Signage Expo

The big Mobile World Conference in Barcelona isn’t the only flashy trade show this week. The Digital Signage Expo, the largest tradeshow dedicated to digital signage is winding down in Las Vegas, with cellular signage, digital billboards and interactive touchscreens getting lots of attention.

Announcements at DSE 13 included:

WiGig: 60 GHz WiFi Rolls Out

Today, Dell began shipping a laptop with the option to add Qualcomm Tri-band WiGig (at 60 GHz) as well as Wi-Fi. Dell’s Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks, using “Tri-band” encompasses the two bands used by 802.11n Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz and 5 GHz, as well as the new 802.11ad WiGig band at 60 GHz.

The Dell Latitude 6430u includes both 2.4 and 5 GHz connections, as well as a new 60 GHz connection that can deliver speeds up to 4.6 gigabits per second. The 60 GHz 802.11ad standard is designed to handle high-bandwidth, low-latency traffic.

The Dell Latitude 6430u can wirelessly connect your existing peripherals via a new wireless dock. The Wireless Dock supports up to two external displays with both DisplayPort and HDMI. It also includes three USB 3.0 ports and a front Audio In/Out port for voice over IP.

WiGig is supported and driven by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, comprising dozens of industry-leading member companies including Dell, Qualcomm and Wilocity, a fabless semiconductor company developing 60 GHz multi-gigabit wireless chipsets.

QualComm and Wilocity launched their tri-band reference design that combines 802.11ac and 802.11ad wireless capabilities on a single module at CES 2013.

WiGig, using the 802.11ad standard, supports data transmission rates up to 7 Gbit/s – more than ten times faster than the highest 802.11n rate.

Here’s a review of evolving WiFi standards:

  • IEEE 802.11n: Increased the maximum raw data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s by using as many as four spatial streams with a double width channel (40 MHz). MIMO architecture and wider channels improved speeds on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels.
  • IEEE 802.11ac: Provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band. It uses 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel bandwidths (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n) and supports up to 8 spatial streams (vs. 4 in 802.11n)
  • IEEE 802.11ad: Now with the WiGig specs folded in, provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band and 60 GHz bands. The 60 GHz band is stopped by walls, so range will be shorter, but the spectrum is wider, supporting nearly 7 Gbps throughput.
  • Wireless HD: A trade group led by SiBeam, allows for either compressed (H.264) or uncompressed digital transmission of high-definition video and audio and data signals, essentially making it equivalent of a wireless HDMI. The WirelessHD specification has provisions for content encryption via Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP). SiBEAM was acquired by Silicon Image in April 2011

The IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards may also use Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), where simultaneous streams are transmitted to different users on the same channels.

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LTE Broadcast Mobilizes at MWC

Telstra and Verizon are preparing to test LTE Broadcast, which sends broadcast television signals over LTE networks. The Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service is an LTE standard that uses existing cellular infrastructure, and radio frequencies, but broadcasts the same signal to any number of people.

LTE Broadcast allows the operator to shape its broadcast coverage area, covering either its entire footprint, or isolating a specific town, neighborhood, or even a specific venue – a stadium, for example.

Australia’s leading telecoms operator, Telstra, signed a deal that includes three trials to begin during 2013, with the two firms testing LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, LTE het-net and an LTE broadcast solution.

Ericsson and Qualcomm are demonstrating an LTE Broadcast solution at MWC that relies on a set of new technology standards, starting with eMBMS, as well as new compression chips.

HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) promises to halve the bandwidth required to transport video content using H.265 compression. MPEG DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), meanwhile, simplifies and standardizes the adaptive delivery of video to consumer devices, ensuring a better quality of service and greater efficiency.

Ericsson said TV and video traffic is set to dominate networks and grow from 40 percent to 90 percent of mobile traffic within the next four years.

Meanwhile, competitor Huawei, along with China Mobile and other partners demonstrated similar LTE Broadcast technology at Mobile World Congress. The companies displayed a range of LTE TDD terminals, including smartphones such as Huawei’s Ascend P2, data cards, MiFi, CPE and tablets, using HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) and eMBMS (Evolved Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service) technologies to support HD video.

Huawei and China Mobile’s joint demonstration of HEVC and eMBMS video services was the first time they’ve shown the LTE TDD video solution to the world.

HEVC using H.265 chips will make it possible to transfer 720p (1280×720 resolution) HD video at 1-2 Mbps, greatly improving the efficiency of multi-casting mobile data transmissions.

The BBC, the UK’s public-sector broadcaster, is working with Huawei on LTE Broadcast. The BBC wants to use LTE to repeat in permanent form the service it offered during the 2012 London Olympics, when it carried 24 simultaneous channels of competitions, according to Matthew Postgate, the broadcaster’s controller of research and development. LTE would be part of “a hybrid future” where the BBC expands the range of technologies that it uses to deliver programs to the public.

The BBC has experimented with mobile television before. In 2005 it worked with mobile operator O2 and transmitter operator Arqiva on a trial of mobile TV, delivering five public and private channels, using DVB-H, which transmitted mobile television broadcast TV frequencies. Like most other mobile TV trials, notably MediaFlo in the United States, it stumbled then fell flat on its face.

Dyle, which will deliver mobile television over broadcast television channels, uses the brain-dead ATSC-M/H standard in the United States. Like the defunct MediaFLO, it requires a special phone with a tv tuner. Resolution is low and range is limited. In contrast, LTE Broadcast works with smartphones on cellular channels. No tuner required.

Expway announced its eMBMS solution has been selected and is powering several trials in the US, Europe and Asia. Their solution is composed of Device Middleware, a DASH Video Player and a BM-SC Server. The solution integrates with operators existing OTT services as it relies on DASH video protocol.

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) introduced Liquid Applications, which turns the base station into an intelligent server to deliver local content to subscribers. NS wants to take advantage of knowing where and why people are using their smartphones and tablets. For example, augmented reality applications, or news and video content can be placed at the base station for instant local access to connected devices. SK Telecom will evaluate their Radio Applications Cloud Server.

NSN’s LTE Advanced network for Docomo will use remote radio heads, with baseband processing virtualized in the cloud, delivering 300Mbps.

Alcatel-Lucent’s TDD Metro Radio houses two of ALU’s lightRadio ‘cubes’ integrated with a directional antenna. China Mobile is deploying the 2.6 GHz TD-LTE Metro Radio in Shanghai, Nanjing and Qingdao with a variety of TD-LTE handsets providing access.

Clearwire’s LTE-Advanced network will leverage carrier aggregation to bond two 20 MHz channels into a fat 40 MHz pipe. That should deliver 500-600 Mbps, double the speed of a 20 MHz channel, when using 4×4 MIMO. No trenching. Not as dumb as TV.

Deliver 50 subs per sector with 10 Mbps each — or use LTE Broadcast to deliver 500 subs with 6 TV channels sharing one 10 Mbps stream. With behavioral targeting.

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Waze: Now Cloud Controlled

Waze, the popular crowd-sourced traffic app for Android and IOS, has just gotten an update so users can submit road closings to the app and the changes will instantly propagate to help guide people around traffic jams and road closings.

Waze 3.6 is the first real-time crowdsourced solution. Waze features nearly 40 million drivers and a robust map editing community. In addition to turn-by-turn voice navigation, real-time traffic, and other location-specific alerts, Waze simultaneously sends anonymous information, including users’ speed and location, back to its database to improve the service as a whole.

Waze’s vice president of platform, Di-Ann Eisnor said, “Our roads are changing all the time, and Waze has been building the capability to take care of that.” With that in mind, users can now alert others if roads are closed for construction, parades, or whatever the reason.