A Curious Case of In-Vehicle Infotainment System for Two-Wheelers
The motor bike and electric two-wheeler riders have fewer comfort features compared to what is offered in a car. The gap, however, is closing and the introduction of in-vehicle infotainment system in bikes is a major factor.
The bike and scooter riders miss out on many features that are absolute necessity for bikers. Navigation and calling features are a few of them. Hence, the need for an infotainment system in two-wheelers has always been there.
Here are a few compelling reasons for having such an infotainment system in two-wheelers:
- Map and Navigation: Bikes and scooters are meant for city commute and navigation makes it more convenient. While on a car, the user can easily use a smartphone for the same purpose, but two-wheelers have their constraints. An infotainment system that could help riders navigate easily is certainly needed.
- Vehicle Data: Quite similar to a car, two-wheelers also have a lot to tell its user. Tire pressure warning, distance-to-empty and a lot more. An old-fashioned VGA screen is not the right fit for displaying so much of information to the user. Moreover, such display is not interactive and doesn’t let the user take any action on the info.
- Audio/Video: While this may be not a core feature, two-wheeler users were really missing out on this one. Audio and Video Playback capabilities is great if you have to wait on your electric bike while it is charging or in the traffic.
- Bluetooth Calling: While it is not recommended to take calls while riding a two-wheeler. A call notification on the display with an option to answer or reject gives the rider an option to stop the bike and answer the call. Or he may choose to ignore it.
Bike and electric vehicle OEMs have now realized this need and are investing heavy on them. And not just the OEMs, technology providers and suppliers such as BOSCH and TI also have ready-to-deploy and customizable infotainment systems for the bike.
Most of automotive enthusiast know in and out about infotainment systems in cars, but is it similar for the bikes as well? Let’s find out!
How does a two-wheeler Infotainment System Work
An infotainment system in two-wheelers aims for a riding experience that is safe, useful and fun all at the same time. When we say a system, we are also talking about the underlying Control Unit– the brain behind this system.
The role of this electronic control unit (ECU) is to fetch the information from different sources, process it and display to the users.
As two-wheelers, especially the electric scooters have a lot of electronic systems in place, the rider should be well-informed of what is going on in the bike. The display system takes care of that.
In case of a car, there is usually an instrument cluster that helps decongest the main display by sharing some of the info.
The bike on the other hand doesn’t have that amount of real-estate to accommodate two displays. The main display has to showcase all relevant info and entertainment features without making it all seem congested.
Also, there are multiple connectivity at play simultaneously. The system is connected to numerous devices and system over different networks. We will have a closer look in the next section.
The image shows the infotainment system’s connectivity with different bike functions
- Vehicle sensor connectivity: The infotainment system is connected to various vehicle sensors. For instance, the tire pressure sensors measures the amount of air in the tires and passes on the data to the control unit. Based on the reading, the control unit would trigger the algorithm and deduce whether the air pressure is optimum or a refill is required.
Similarly, a side stand sensor would warn the user if the bike stand is engaged. Most of these connections are over CAN.
- Throttle Connectivity: In most two-wheelers, the infotainment system is connected to the throttle by analog system (harness) or over LIN. The display shows the RPM based on the readings from the throttle.
- Connectivity to Cloud: We have already entered the era of connected vehicles and bikes are also not behind. Connectivity with cloud brings along a lot of benefits. A few of them are remote vehicle diagnostics, remote ECU reprogramming flashing, telematics features etc. Leveraging these features, the OEMs make life really easy for the riders.Let’s say, there is an update for a control unit application. The OEMs can push such update directly to the bikes over cloud. The customers do not have to take the pains of bringing the bike to the garage for the same.
The cloud connectivity works in the same way as cars. Usually, the connection to cloud is over WLAN. A WLAN module is included to the infotainment system ECU for this purpose.
- Smartphone Connectivity: Connectivity with smartphone primarily enables the calling feature on your bike. The connection is usually over Bluetooth. While the safety factor is debatable, it is definitely a sought-after features by the riders.
- Helmet Connectivity: This is one of the unique features of a two-wheeler infotainment system. There are smart helmets that connect with the bike system. Connected over Bluetooth, these helmets can play the navigation to the user directly from the infotainment system, give voice commands to the system and more. However, these feature will depend on the OEMs and the helmet manufacturers.
What’s next for Two-Wheeler Infotainment System?
The infotainment system is out of its nascent stage. The technology is quite advanced and the focus is on integrating communication and information in the smoothest manner possible.
Going by the trends, here a little insight into the area of two-wheeler’s infotainment system:
- Connected Vehicle and V2V technologies: Connected two-wheelers is the future! Back in 2016 at EICMA, many two-wheeler manufacturers talked about connected features and a few even announced to introduce it in their upcoming two-wheelers.Another aspect is the advancements in vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology. It paves the path for co-operative Intelligent Transport System (CITS). Honda, Yamaha and BMW are among the top OEMs who have collaborated to build a CITS.For the uninitiated, vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communication comes under the domain of CITS. Based on this system, the vehicle users are able to share information with the traffic managers and coordinate the actions. This helps the concerned authority to manage the traffic well.
- Electric two-wheelers to make infotainment system mainstream: Electric two-wheeler is creating quite a storm in the automotive market. And the good thing is that most of them are making infotainment system an integral part of their system.They are in a way busting the myth around infotainment system that it is meant only for the luxury vehicles. In fact, these infotainment system in the electric two-wheelers are powered by Android and boats all the advanced features comparable to a car.
Going by the steady inclusion of new features in cars, one might think that bike technology has become stagnant. With infotainment system being introduced in two-wheelers, we see them catching up fast with the 4 wheeled counterparts.