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back to article Ready for the car 2.0? Nvidia preps UPGRADABLE car system

What’s your next car dashboard going to look like? The answer may well be: however you want it to look. If Nvidia has its way, car manufacturers and owners will have a much wider range of choices when it comes to dashboard displays, navigation sophistication, and personalising the car to the owner. The computer hardware …

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No

"Updating dashboard software now, please pull over during the update."

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WTF?

Re: No

Why, is that what your current GPS does?

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Re: No

No, but my Windows laptop sometimes likes to refuse to shutdown until it's installed what it thinks is necessary - not great if you are trying to get out of the office in a hurry.

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Re: No

If speed = 0 AND occupancy = 0, disallow ignition until update complete.

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Re: No

@b166er: if occupancy = 0, I'd hope the ignition would be disallowed anyway!

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Meh

Re: No

@Code Monkey - Yes this would be a big problem if the software developers somehow don't realise that the target system for their software is a car.

How likely is that, though?

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Re: No

@Dan Price Re: No @b166er: if occupancy = 0, I'd hope the ignition would be disallowed anyway!

Actually, remote start is available on some care - the VW Passat is a case in point: http://my.vw.com/2012-passat/security/keyless-access

Useful for getting the car warm before venturing into the cold oneself

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Re: No

So you get out for a piss half way up a mountain road with next to no mobile bandwidth, and the car finally lets you restart the ignition four hours later when the update finally downloads and installs.

Only it doesn't, because you've frozen to death.

On the up side, at least you'll be able to play Angry Birds while doing 80mph in the fast lane when someone roots this new toy and removes all the safeties.

So... possibly one or two teething troubles to be concerned about.

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Re: No

While comments regarding updates on the fly are amusing to one degree or other, I am reasonably certain that - at least in the US - this will be a "dealer installable option" only. Just like with "brand specific" versions, dealers will not willingly give up a potentially lucrative revenue stream.

"The WhizBangZoom Motor Company is committed to your safety and security. Therefore, automotive software upgrades for your new SuperRoadmaster 2100 are available ONLY from your authorized WhizBangZoom dealer." For a "nominal fee" of course...

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Uploading infringement

I like the idea of automated uploading of traffic infringement noticed. mmm how good would that be.

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This is optimistic in the extreme, car manufacturers already have a very profitable upgrade path - buying a whole new car.

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Ru
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Easy peasy. Stop issuing updates for the car firmware. Inform insurance companies. Premiums for people using unsupported vehicles go though the roof. Software obsolescence is dead easy to engineer.

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Hacking/viruses?

Exciting though this is I really hope that they've thought about security. The idea of needing antivirus/antimalware in my car is a scary prospect.

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Re: Hacking/viruses?

"Exciting"? I suppose it is. I'm so excited I'd like to punch whoever came up with the damned thing.

Touchscreen controls remain the worst idea for driver ergonomics ever, right behind "unified" control systems like BMW's idiotic iDrive. Making it more difficult and attention-intensive to operate secondary functions is precisely the wrong thing to do.

I'm going to have to buy a new car in a year or two, and I am really not looking forward to it. (I wouldn't buy a new car at all, if left to my own devices, but marriage is a series of compromises...) It's going to be difficult to find anything that suits our needs and doesn't have one of these moronic "infotainment" systems.

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Fighter pilots already know this

Information Overload. I can see this becoming app-heavy so it takes all your concentration. Of course, if the app turns your car into an Autonomous Googlemobile, then you can quite happily play the latest incarnation of GTA:Sin City or whatever whilst travelling.

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wim

insurance app

run our insurance app.

(that logs everything) and get 30 % discount. If after an accident we can prove with the data that you were in violation of any rule you are not insured.

alcohol checks that refuse to start your car if you fail the test.

a national database that knows where your car is every second of the day (of course to build better road solutions / send you speeding tickets / fight terrorism)

a rentable car app: you login with your credentials and the database of the lease/rental company knows it is you and will bill you accordingly or install a credit card reader in the car itself.

The possibilities are limitless and scary at the same time. I hope the positive wins out and I really hope that they make it impossible to watch a movie / TV while driving (like they do in Japan)

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Re: insurance app

"I hope the positive wins out"

Either you are too optimistic or I have finally crossed over into "cranky pessimist bastard" land. I agree that the possibilities are scary and am pretty confident that is the path which will be taken.

Furthermore, I can't see rival manufacturers agreeing to a common system without some SERIOUS financial incentives up front. More likely is brand versioning, each with subtle differences in capability similar to hardware/hardwired systems of today. THIS feature is available in my Toyota, but if I want THAT feature, I have to buy a Nissan, etc.

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Re: insurance app

OBD/OBD2?

You could do what they are doing with the existing interfaces for the car, all they are doing is putting a prettier GUI on.

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Re: insurance app

>I hope the positive wins out and I really hope that they make it impossible to watch a movie / TV while driving (like they do in Japan)

I was under the impression that this was the case here in the UK, or maybe manufacturers just implement it that way to avoid lawsuits.

I remember someone turning up at the pub in a brand new 2012 Range Rover with a lenticular display in the middle of the dashboard - it would display GPS to the driver but TV and video to the passenger. (Though the dashboard that almost had me applauding was in one those greenwash Lexus hybrid SUV things- moulded into the dash was not only a DVD/CD player and surround-sound system, but a slot for cassette tapes too. Cassette tapes- wow! - but c'mon, Lexus, you had space to fit an 8-Track, Minidisc, DAT and DCC whilst you were about it! : D)

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Not the only one

Based on the title I wasn't the only one to watch the 2008 remake of Knight Rider then....

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it would have to be configurable within limits to ensure vital info is always displayed somewhere.

Also, drivers are already dangerously distracted by SatNav/mobile/texting/entertainment etc.

First we need computer driven cars, then more distractions.

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FAIL

Fixing a problem that doesn't exist

Realistically, what do they hope to achieve with this?

The current set-up of fixed-place instruments are designed so you only need to glance at them to get the relevant information quickly and can concentrate on the road ahead. Watching a customised speedometer that changes colour the faster you go will only result in fatal deceleration when your car ploughs in to the braking car in front because you were checking out the mods you've just made.

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Stop

Re: Fixing a problem that doesn't exist

Quick, oh wise sage, you better tell Ferrari, Porsche, Lexus, and no doubt other vehicle manufacturers, that they're doing it wrong by going with interactive, configurable digital displays then! Personally I quite like the idea of being able to customise my cluster and entertainment system but it won't influence my driving in an way. I can't speak for morons behind the wheel but then again there are morons behind the wheel no matter what, always has been, always will be, sticking to boring old clusters isn't going to change that.

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@Shades (was: Re: Fixing a problem that doesn't exist)

"Personally I quite like the idea of being able to customise my cluster"

I've been customizing my cluster since the late 1960s, when I first started racing.

"and entertainment system but it won't influence my driving in an way. I can't speak for morons behind the wheel but then again there are morons behind the wheel no matter what, always has been, always will be, sticking to boring old clusters isn't going to change that."

Morons who need to be "entertained" when behind the wheel are just that. Morons. When you are driving, drive. It's kind of important.

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Anonymous Coward

Would bring a new meaning...

.. to Blue Screen Of Death

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Go

Less is More

Historically dashboards have proliferated with buttons and dials because each had only one purpose. In reality most of the dials are only required when something goes wrong.

So the only readout that probably needs to be there all the time is speed (which could be placed as HUD on the windscreen instead). Others only give information and warnings when necessary (or on request). I know some people are going to scream "but I need to see my ..." - well you're in the minority. Most drivers wouldn't know what was good or bad until it goes red.

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Re: Less is More

Analogue dials give trend information: is the temperature where it usually is, for example. You're probably correct that many drivers won't know the difference and wouldn't take any notice of it anyway - look how many cars these days have nothing but a speedo and a red light.

But a red light is really saying 'oops, too late'... not for this engineer and car enthusiast, thanks.

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WTF?

Re: Less is More

So you only look at your fuel gauge when something goes wrong (ie when you run out of fuel)?

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@Neil Barnes

While I concur about the trend information, just because it's digital doesn't mean it can't present trend information. You might make it a digital dial on the dash board or display numeric information in a constantly changing stream. You might even graph something like engine temp from the time the car started. To me the major cause of concern would be the complexity of the sensor/relay/presentation interface. But, that horse fled the barn some years (possibly decades) back.

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Re: Less is More

I'd pay money for a system with a UI for labelling the radio with buttons I can understand.

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@Tom 13 (was: Re: @Neil Barnes)

I like analog. Engines are shades of green, not ones & zeros.

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Go

Re: @Tom 13 (was: @Neil Barnes)

LCDs are perfectly capably of displaying information as an analog display, doesn;t need to be numeric, and most things I would suspect would be displayed that way anyway.

What would be nice would be things like fuel capacity, not just Full, Half, Empty like most cards, but specific amounts of fuel, i.e. 22Ltrs left, and expected milage on the remaining fuel. (i.e will I make it home/to the petrol station etc.).

Also regarding trend info, with a fully digital system like this, you could have information such as expected engine temperature in the current situation, not just the actual temperature (for example taking into account outside temp, driving mode etc.), and so the display could easily show that the car was running hotter or colder than expected, or that it was using fuel faster than it should be, and so help identify issues.

Yes this can be found now, but requires the driver to actually pay attention to what dials are telling them, and notice the difference at other times, which I would suspect for most drivers won't happen. (I'm talking about the sort of people who let their raidiator run dry, or never check things like oil levels or tire pressures).

Also this might help bring to an end the ridiculous prices some companies charge for items like sat nav. i.e. BMW charging £2,500 to add factory fitted sat nav, despite the processing power and screen already existing in the base model cars. So all it needs is the GPS receiver (£10?) and the software installing. Give me Google Navigate anyday.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Less is More

"Most drivers wouldn't know what was good or bad until it goes red."

What you are talking about in your post is called a "dark cockpit" and was pioneered by Airbus on, IIRC, some iteration of the A320. Basically the thing tells you nothing unless something goes wrong that it can't fix itself.

Nowhere near as macho as "classic" cockpits full of lights, gauges, and switches everywhere. I've always wondered what half of them do... and I used to fly for a living.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Tom 13 (was: @Neil Barnes)

« I like analog. Engines are shades of green, not ones & zeros. »

There is room for compromise here. How about a green icon that changes hue? :)

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Unhappy

A shame but it won't work

1) Car manufacturers aren't interested in allowing users to upgrade their cars, they'd rather we just bought new ones.

2) If some miracle happened and a manufacturer did adopt this system, they'd want exclusivity so they could use it as a unique selling feature, which means that most of us wouldn't get to see it anyway.

3) Being automotive technology, upgrades will be expensive, mainly due to the lock-in - think of the difference in price between going into Halfords and buying a TomTom unit, and approaching your dealer to get an equivalent-spec satnav system installed. Or even just the price for getting the maps updated.

4) Information overload is a concern, and manufacturers will be very cautious of letting drivers have too many bells and whistles on the dash in case they get distracted and crash, and sue them.

I think a more feasible strategy would be a good set of standards to be developed that all the manufacturers would be mandated to implement, which means you can use a variety of smartphone platforms to do that smart stuff. But that probably won't happen.

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Re: A shame but it won't work

1. Yup

2. They would ideally.

3. Nope, Automotive Integrated Sat-Nav's are expensive because they are part of the car, which means they have to be certified to the same level as all the other electronics in the vehicle. A Plug in unit doesn't. This is where the majority of the price difference comes from, plus the OEM's and dealer's margin!

4. Yup, but they are not liable for changes to the standard specification.

It is happening, you get car stereo's with Interfaces that can run apps from your Smartphone. IOS and some Android devices are supported.

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Re: A shame but it won't work

>3) Being automotive technology, upgrades will be expensive, mainly due to the lock-in - think of the difference in price between going into Halfords and buying a TomTom unit, and approaching your dealer to get an equivalent-spec satnav system installed.

To give another example, the head of Ford UK was on the radio last year, talking about the uptake of DAB digital radio... he said that to factory fit it to a medium-priced car like a Ford Focus would cost around £220. The cost of a consumer buying a pocket DAB receiver, and attaching it to their head unit with an aux cable, plus fag-lighter adaptor and duck tape would be less that £50- I don't think the UI would be ideal, though.

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A real driver's car...

...only needs a rev counter , oil pressure, temp and fuel guages.

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MJI
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Re: A real driver's car...

Hmm bulb warning systems are nice.

I did like the gear indicator on a motorbike.

Less though is better. But rev counter essential.

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MJI
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Re: A real driver's car...

Thinking about it I think the most basic I have had of any use was pair of clocks, blue light for main beam and orange light for indicator, nothing else. Apart from a moped which had nothing but a speedo, so don't count that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A real driver's car...

Real drivers don't need a rev counter, they can hear/feel the engine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A real driver's car...

"Thinking about it I think the most basic I have had of any use was pair of clocks, blue light for main beam and orange light for indicator, nothing else."

My Mini-Moke was utilitarian in all respects. The dashboard had a speedometer with red and amber lights for dynamo and oil pressure. It was on sale at the garage with a livery of purple with large flowers - so a respray to white was ordered.

After months of fiddling with warnings of a dynamo "fail" - it was discovered that after the respray the two bulbs had been replaced into their opposite coloured bezels.

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MJI
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Re: Rev counter

Ever jumped off a bike and into a car, put it this way it wasn''t until I drove one with a rev counter I found that I was revving high mileage 1300cc Astras to 8000rpm. It was still accelerating and was not revving too hard - for a biker.

When I got to cars I had an old push rod lumped thing 6000rpm red line, but when fitted with the correct cam and springs safe to about 7000rpm (sports model was known for this red line lower than maximum power). So I would happily take my ancient 1600cc hatch to 6500rpm, jumped into the same size engine Sierra, err why was the red line so low, I would have red lined it so easily?

Rev counters are usefull when driving vehicles with substantially lower rev bands than your own vehicle.

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Re: A real driver's car...

I can't hear or feel the engine in my car for the most part -- stereo is usually too loud and the engine runs smooth.

New car designs should take note of Nissan's ICON system (which my car has) which is basically a bunch of buttons that change function (and have an LCD in the back of them so they show different things when the mode changes), so you can better manage the system w/o having to look at it, since it is physical buttons you are touching. Almost have the best of both worlds - physical buttons that have the ability to be dynamic. One of the knobs is dynamic as well.

video on the function(16 seconds):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0zcK0z6hgY

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Re: Rev counter

I concur whole heartedly --- as have to say it is far worse when you go from a bike to a big old slow diesel. Although at least the diesel makes enough noise that you concentrate on it. This I suspect is part of the reason almost all diesel vehicles --- at least that I have seen --- have rev counters on them.

I'd go so far as to say that rev counters are useful when driving a car with a different engine speed than your own: I'm forever having to remember that I can have the little petrol engine rev higher than 2000 rpm.

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@RainForestGuppy (was: Re: A real driver's car...)

Add in a volt meter (NOT an ammeter!), and a properly calibrated speedometer for street use, and I'll agree with you (assuming you're talking analog gauges). Some of us diagnose our own under-the-hood issues ...

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HMB
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Re: A real driver's car...

"Real drivers don't need a rev counter, they can hear/feel the engine." - Exactly the thing that people without a rev counter say.

I'm not going to outright disagree either. With my old car I could accelerate hard from a stand still and instinctively stop bang on 30 mph without looking at the instrument cluster, I just felt and heard the engine note for the gear.

What you're missing is that without a rev counter, you never get to calibrate your ears to a car. You never get to learn what 6500 RPM sounds like for sure, you just take guesses. I don't like taking guesses myself, but horses for courses (especially at Tesco).

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Re: A real driver's car...

Yeah, diesels don't give you the oomph when they get revvy like petrols do, and I would imagine that a lot of people have come to diesels in the last few years and could benefit from that pointer. I've had one for ten years in a Peugeot 306 guise, but now have the same engine model in a Citreon Berlingo that has an ECU modded for economy (wretched thing). Unlike the Pug, the Berlingo has a rev counter which I can only assume is to aid economical driving (though annoyingly, it is situated where the speedo was on the Pug).

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Re: A real driver's car...

Without a rev counter you don't get the joy of watching the needle bounce when it hits the limiter during an awesome burnout.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A real driver's car...

"Real drivers don't need a rev counter, they can hear/feel the engine."

*REAL* drivers don't need an engine.

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