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By:
VNC Automotive

Date:
25th February 2019

In the drive to provide more applications and services direct from the dash, connectivity gurus VNC Automotive and automotive electronics manufacturer Alpine Electronics GmbH announce Android ‘Add-On Box’

Monday February 25th, 2019. Mobile World Congress, Barcelona

VNC Automotive today announced its partnership with Alpine in the provision of its latest infotainment concept the ‘Add-On Box’. Alpine has been working on this fully loaded, feature rich device that sits discreetly within the vehicle, and allows car makers to vastly expand the functionality of their infotainment systems. Consumers in turn benefit from pre-configured and seamless access to these services and applications.

“The ‘black box’ approach provides a consistent, intelligent applications hosting platform and the head unit acts as a big display – together providing next-gen infotainment.”

After the steady proliferation of smartphone integration in-vehicle over the last decade, ‘black box’ system-on-chip (SOC) devices are becoming increasingly popular with auto manufacturers, and for good reason. Essentially a smartphone without a screen, it removes the burden of making a myriad of consumer phones play nicely with embedded head units and hence the problem of continually updating the infotainment system itself. The ‘black box’ approach provides a consistent, intelligent applications hosting platform and the head unit acts as a big display – together providing next-gen infotainment. 

How is connecting a ‘black box’ different to connecting a smartphone? Well, the unifying goal is to improve the driving experience, enabling the time spent in vehicle to be as entertaining, efficient and safe as possible. The benefits of Alpine’s Add-On Box is that you connect the box once and forget about it. There are no interoperability issues between the box and the head unit, which can be a constraint with handsets. 

Another consideration by automakers when scoping in smartphone connectivity is which connectivity standard to implement – popular standards such as CarPlay and AndroidAuto still appear fragmented depending on vehicle model or geographic region. Yet the demand from consumers for intuitive navigation and media streaming remains widespread. In this sense the Add-On Box acts as a good leveler. It provides popular applications and services for everyone no matter what handset, head unit or global location.

Tom Blackie, CEO of VNC Automotive says: “We have a rich history of working with Alpine to support their best-in-class infotainment systems and VNC Automotive is delighted to partner on this latest project. Our software provides the connectivity protocol between the Add-On-Box and the head unit. Instantaneous access and virtually no latency are everything when it comes to the IVI user experience and this is the expertise we brought to the project.”  

Thorsten Kueper, Senior Manager of Product Strategy at Alpine adds: “Off the back of CES in January, demonstrating this proof of concept at Mobile World Congress is a showcase of the development work with VNC Automotive. With now over 1 billion car users around the world, all wanting easy access to maps, multi-media and more, the Alpine Add-On Box will be a vital addition to many drivers in-car experience.”

Blackie adds: “Whilst smartphone integration remains a must for virtually all incoming connected car projects, for production vehicles starting 2020-2023 we’ve seen a dramatic uplift in ‘black box’ centric IVI. This is an increasingly neat approach by the likes of Alpine and their automakers to provide additional infotainment, entertainment and telematics applications. Reliance on third party standards and frequent IVI software updates are removed, putting the automaker back in control, with a solution that’s future-proof.”

The Alpine Add-On Box comes equipped with standard features including navigation and media player. Access to additional applications is via a White Label App store and can be fully branded and controlled by a car manufacturer or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The Alpine Add-On Box is due for release in early 2020. For a briefing at MWC, come to Hall 6 Stand 6M31 or contact Julia Felgate-Barker, Marketing Manager: jfb@vncautomotive.com

About Alpine Electronics:

Alpine Electronics is an automotive electronics manufacturer that provides consumers and leading auto makers with audio, video, navigation and driver assistance products. The company specializes in system integration solutions with innovative vehicle entertainment and information technologies. Alpine’s R&D and manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, Europe and North America ensure that all products address the real-world requirements of drivers in each market. The company is committed to developing safe, comfortable and eco-friendly automotive electronics products.