The age of IoT and AI is making a definitive impact on the automotive industry. Today, there is a myriad of possibilities offered by intelligent driver assistance systems and smart dashboards that are transforming connected vehicles like never before.
Leading automotive OEMs are including connected clusters as core offerings in their product lines. Past challenges associated with connected vehicles such as sending and receiving large amounts of data to and from the cloud platform, have been alleviated to an extent with emerging technologies. Firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) downloads for updating connected devices is more secure and reliable as well.
All in all, the connected vehicle ecosystem is growing at a massive pace, and smart dashboards play a role of paramount importance in this transformation.
Why Integrate a Smart Dashboard in a Vehicle?
Two-wheelers of yesteryears had some limitations in the area of intelligent data collection, its processing and display to assist the rider. Innovative vehicle manufacturers, technology service providers and software developers identified the following gaps:
- Lack of preemptive maintenance data – The instrument cluster can be configured to collect critical vehicle information that can be displayed to the rider. This data can offer valuable insights so that the rider can perform precautionary checks and regular maintenance of the vehicle.
- Inadequate availability of real-time data and built-in navigation facilities – The traffic density on the roads has burgeoned in recent times. In some countries, the transportation infrastructure is unable to withstand this traffic growth, adding to the woes of the daily commuter.This is where the convenience offered by navigation software comes to the limelight. Turn By Turn (TBT) navigation functionality opens up a number of alternate route options to the rider. Some of these may reduce the commute time by a significant amount as well. The added advantage of real-time traffic notifications is also helpful in keeping the rider updated with the road conditions.
- Lack of customized consoles – In order to cater to a customer segment that desires high-end displays and personalization features on the dashboard, the need for an updated console was felt.
Endless Possibilities Offered by Smart Dashboards
The digital instrument cluster is the focal point of a driver in a vehicle. Hence, it is imperative that the cluster is updated with all the vital information for the driver to take appropriate actions.
Smart vehicles achieve connectivity through either of the following key components:
- Vehicle Telematics System – The vehicle telematics system includes four fundamental units:
- Telematics Control Unit (TCU) / Telematics Gateway Unit (TGU) – This is the heart of the Telematics Device and it stores/transmits data received from the automotive ECUs to the telematics cloud server. It also sends information to the digital instrument cluster to be displayed to the driver.
- Vehicle ECU Network – ECUs enable the Telematics Device (TCU or TGU) to collect the required vehicle information such as speed, vehicle diagnostics, engine temperature, etc.
- Telematics Cloud Server – The cloud server stores and processes data received from the connected vehicle and front-end application. Data management is also a key feature of the cloud platform.
- Web/Mobile Front-End Application – An end user can monitor, send or receive information on a web/mobile dashboard that is connected to the telematics cloud server.
- Smart Dashboard/ Integrated Connectivity Cluster – The smart dashboard is a one-stop rider information portal that takes prominence in connected two-wheelers. The connected cluster’s innovative technology and intuitive characteristics provide the rider with the optimum level of safety and convenience information to elevate the entire riding experience to the next level.For instance, the call notification facility was historically seen only in high-end two-wheelers. Today, it is integrated with the basic two-wheelers as well. The connected cluster is equipped with Bluetooth functionality which helps in effortlessly connecting the cluster with the rider’s smartphone and receiving call details to be displayed.Details regarding message notifications and navigation can also be displayed to the rider on the smart dashboard. In addition, the connected cluster can be retrofitted with a unit to enable ride-sharing.Effectively, the smart dashboard provides a contemporary state-of-the art experience to riders. Several leading automakers are leveraging this solution to gain a clear competitive edge for specific market segments.
Highlights of Integrated Connectivity Cluster
A connected cluster has a telematics unit integrated into the hardware of the cluster itself. Incorporating these additional features to the existing dashboard electronics can extend its processing power. This also ensures that the overall cost of the vehicle is streamlined to suit customer aspirations.
Cloud connectivity and user connectivity are two important features of the connected cluster. This encompasses the following aspects:
- Smartphone integration for ease of access to smartphone content and apps
- Display unit with wide range of information to ascertain safety of the rider
- Enhanced screen readability in all riding conditions
- Bluetooth and WLAN modules for connectivity with the cloud, helmets, headsets, smartphones and third-party accessories
- Navigation assistance through in-built maps
- In-built telematics unit to ensure that the vehicle is connected to the cloud server at all times
Connected clusters can be developed to suit varying budgets and personalization requirements of a diverse customer base:
- At the lower end of the spectrum, the cluster can have a basic graphical display or even a custom segmented LCD display. This display usually has predefined segments or sections with customized graphics.
- A slightly improved version of the connected cluster will have a graphical display with complete visualization of maps, odometer, vehicle tell-tale signs and other standard instrument cluster functionalities. However, these systems will lack a video interface.
- The high-end systems will be equipped with a rich graphical user interface that facilitates visualization of maps and videos and an extensive range of standard instrument cluster functionalities. These devices will be more responsive and have multiple personalization features that the rider can configure.
For instance, one can configure a specific theme, background screen colour or initialization screen to express their unique personality.
It is also possible to enable fleet applications through high-end connected clusters. This helps in collecting a large amount of data regarding the fleet, individual vehicles and usage patterns. It is also possible to integrate the cluster with a connected app to ensure that the vehicles are not misused. Another application is the production of timely alert notifications when the vehicle is switched off or abandoned.
So, the possibilities offered by connected clusters are endless. These smart dashboards open up different levels of convenience to the operator. Entry level, mid level and premium level connected clusters are incorporated with hardware of varying costs. This, subsequently, decides the extent of convenience offered by the solution as well.
Design Aspects to Consider When Developing Connected Clusters
Some of the design aspects to be analyzed while developing a connected cluster are as follows:
- Hardware requirements
- Software requirements
- Security features
In addition to the above, serious consideration should be given to the data collection and transmission process. Data gathered from the vehicle can be transmitted to the cloud and used for analytics or development of machine learning algorithms. This opens up a whole new paradigm of artificial intelligence applications to benefit the users.
Are You Ready to Redefine Your Instrument Cluster Technology?
The innovative smart dashboards take centerstage in connected two-wheelers today. It is the central communication and rider information portal.
You can use the smart dashboard solution to enhance your brand’s unique personality in the competitive automotive market. Partner with us to make an impact in the world of connected vehicles!
To explore our expertise in the design and development of connected cluster solutions, drop us a message.
Connected Cluster Success Story
Our customer, a leading supplier of automotive electronics, desired to integrate a cost-effective connected cluster solution for ICE powered two-wheelers. They partnered with us for the design and development of core software and hardware components.
Our connected digital instrumental cluster solution had the following features:
- Cloud connectivity
- Location tracking
- Integration with mobile app through BLE
- Digital UI displaying speedometer, gear indicator, oil level indicator, etc.
- Turn By Turn (TBT) navigation
- Integration of FOTA update
- Our connected cluster solution was integrated with the customer’s cloud infrastructure and mobile application within an expedited timeframe of 6 months.
- We were able to optimise the BOM cost through our expertise in connected automotive instrument cluster design and the assistance of our ecosystem partner.
Meet Our IoT Leaders
With 18 years of work experience and an inherent ability to strategize and provide direction to the company’s objectives, Sagar heads the IoT Business Unit at Embitel. His leadership and team management skills are exemplary.
His ability to resolve customer pain points through innovative business solutions has earned him the nickname, “The Master of all IoT Trades”, within his circle.Vidya Sagar Jampani, Business Unit Head (IoT)
(The Master of all ‘IoT Trades’!)
Emmanuel’s vast experience of over 19 years across different domains of Embedded Systems Engineering makes him a chief Solution Architect for the IoT Business Unit at Embitel.
With expertise in Automated Build Systems, Embedded Software and Hardware, SOC System Integrations and IoT Mobile Application Development, he has been instrumental in leading the successful delivery of several complex projects.Emmanuel P John, Solution Architect – IoT