Today’s Infotainment color radio

One of the most obvious, tell-tale features differentiating today’s infotainment systems from those of the past is the addition of the Color LCD display.  Going forward nearly 100 percent of true infotainment systems will have color LCD displays, and those that do not could more easily be called, dare I say it, a car radio.

Having said that, it takes a lot more than just a color display to add value.  Take as an example, the early color radio implementation shown below.   For all its screen real estate, the only value it is really adding is to show the frequencies (e.g. 106.2 MHz) assigned to each preset button.   It also try’s to add value by use of Radio Data System (RDS) data. But, with the eight character limitation of RDS, it makes you think you are listening to a group called The Beat, when you are actually listening to The Beatles.


Early implementation of Color Radio

To deliver the user interface experience customers expect when interacting with color displays, the radio system needs to be upgraded as well.  

The companion technology to dress up this color radio screen in North America is HD Radio™. DAB, DMB, etc, can do the same for other regions of the world.  Taking HD Radio as an example, it offers full character implementation of song title and artist name, so there is no more mistaking The Beatles for The Beat. Add in the Artist Experience® feature, and you get a thumbnail of the album cover as well.  

Car manufactures are using HD Radio to dress up the preset view with station logos used as preset reminders, instead of the boring, geeky MHz numbers from the example above.

HD Radio broadcast station logos as preset indicators

For all of these reasons, I have been heard to say many times that I believe that any system that has a mid-size LCD display (say five inches) or larger, should also have HD Radio as a standard feature.

Given that all of these systems require an infotainment processor to drive the screen, the TI “Jacinto” family of automotive processors is the perfect companion to the LCD display as it can implement HD Radio as a software application running on the integrated DSP.   Also, there are no additional hardware changes required, as most conventional radio front-ends already support HD Radio.  The “Jacinto” family offers a wide range of processing scalability to scale to the size of display employed.

For more information, visit here, or come visit us at SAE Convergence in Detroit on October 21 and 22.