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BlackBerry's QNX showcases connected car of future in automotive push

A Canadian automotive supplier group recently unveiled an advanced connected vehicle that includes on-board technology such as hand gesture recognition, an alcohol sensor and a fleet communication system.

Partnering with BlackBerry's QNX, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association at its annual conference in Windsor, Ontario on June 4 presented a 2014 Lexus RX350 crossover that featured software from 13 companies operating in Ontario. The demonstration vehicle is meant to spotlight the country?s supplier community and technology while pointing to the game-changing mobile technologies that await vehicle design.

?The phone is absolutely going to play a critical role in the connectivity proposition,? said Roger Lanctot, associate director of the global automotive practice at Strategy Analytics in Newton, MA.

?But it does set up some tension,? he said. ?If you?re a car maker you really don?t want all that vehicle and personal information of your customer going off to Apple and Google. As a carmaker, you want to maintain that relationship with the vehicle and with the customer.?

Connected cars
APMA partnered with Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems, which is owned by Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry, and the University of Waterloo to create an operating platform to showcase the vehicle?s technology.

Once a futuristic dream, the connected car is becoming a reality. Enthusiasts see the technology providing motorists with cloud-connected information while driver assist systems take over steering and braking to prevent accidents.

The suppliers? association promoted the vehicle as a ?mobile incubator of evolving connected vehicle technologies? for ?faster data delivery, interactivity and safety.? The software in the car can be obtained by automakers individually but could also function in connection with the other featured technology, the APMA said.

QNX already works with suppliers and automakers such as General Motors Co., which uses it in its OnStar system to run multimedia systems that connect phones to in-car technology, allowing for voice-activated calling and radio controls, among other applications.

A main goal of the connected car is to secure business for Ontario suppliers and create manufacturing and engineering jobs in Canada, APMA said. In 2012, Canada?s automotive parts shipments totaled over 24 billion Canadian dollars. The country?s auto parts producers employ over 80,000 people today.

Customer preferences
Lanctot said as mobile technology becomes more prominent, motorists will prefer to keep personal contacts, identification information and calendars on the phones rather than in their cars.

?Increasingly in the future we?re going to be buying things from the car and downloading things to the car and with all the concern about privacy and security, the phone will be a valuable layer of security in credentialing for the customer,? he said.

?You won?t want to have your credit card information in the car, you?ll want to have it off board and available either through the phone or through the cloud based service delivery platform that the automaker might offer.?