Connected in the Car

8/10/2011

Do you get lost often? If so, you are not alone. The popularity of connected navigation products seems to indicate many people have a fear of losing their way. So far the devices they use to get back on track have tended to fall into two categories: in-car and standalone.

For a few years now, factory installed or aftermarket navigation products that can be embedded in the dash have been eating away at revenue for PNDs (personal navigation devices). PNDs have also faced pressure from navigation apps available for smartphones.

In-car systems have proven popular, offering a variety of features in addition to navigation such as security, retail directories, and entertainment. In fact, ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, says these so-called connected infotainment systems will reach global shipments of 27 million by 2016, though they will be driven mainly by connected navigation.


Yet, in-car systems, PNDs, and smartphones aren’t the only options for navigation on the road. Samsung, www.samsung.com, has blurred the lines by creating a line of tablet devices dedicated to in-car navigation. These mobile devices are not embedded into the vehicle, but are designed for use inside the car.

One of the most popular units in the line is called the Samsung SEN-410, and the device features a 7-inch touchscreen, 3D display, and it can sync with Samsung Android smartphones to deliver services like voice, data, and video on the tablet’s larger screen. SEN-410 offers drivers realtime traffic information, a music and video player, gesture recognition for menu commands, and a text-to speech feature.

Lately, it was also announced that u-blox, www.u-blox.com, will be providing the GPS chip for the SEN car navigation devices. The entire line of SEN products will use u-blox’s UBX-G6010-ST chip.

Samsung has so far introduced the SEN line in Korea, but there’s no official word on whether it will be made available in the U.S. The question of whether consumers will want a tablet designed for in-car use is pertinent, as some people could view SEN as just another device to carry around. But SEN could also encourage the tablet industry to focus more on in-car features. Perhaps the question of what type of in-vehicle connectivity works best is a matter of choice. Now we just have to wait and see what most consumers will eventually choose.





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