At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, Volkswagen is presenting the Connected Golf – the maximally networked car of today. This e-Golf, which is equipped with a latest generation infotainment system ("Discover Pro"), incorporates an enormous range of apps, smartphones and tablets via its progressive interface management system and Volkswagen Car-Net.
Four clusters. The Volkswagen Car-Net online platform provides access to individual infotainment content and services. The various services and applications of Volkswagen Car-Net are organized into four main clusters: Guide & Inform, e-Remote, Safe & Secure (in Europe: Security & Service) and App Connect. They are applied in a country-specific way. A look at today's App Connect is particularly exciting. That is because Volkswagen is one of the first carmakers to integrate the majority of the most significant smartphone operating systems in its Connected Golf show car based on App Connect. The three underlying software interfaces of App Connect are Mirror Link™ (including Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony), Android Auto (Google) and CarPlay (Apple). These interfaces give the driver the ability to use many different smartphone apps over the infotainment system.
Intelligent networking and navigation. Beyond the applications of Volkswagen Car-Net, Media Control also allows for integration of tablets and smartwatches into the infotainment system of the Connected Golf. Media Control uses a special app that creates a rear seat entertainment system of a new era. Travel Link is also installed in the Connected Golf. In the USA, the system also makes the radio an information center by accessing and displaying satellite broadcasting data such as weather information and sports results. Regular Routes is the name of a function by which the navigation system automatically detects – i.e. without needing to be activated by the driver – traffic disturbances on the daily commute to work, for instance. In such cases it autonomously suggests an alternative route that is not congested. All of these innovations being shown in the Connected Golf in Las Vegas are already in production or will soon be introduced. Meanwhile, another theme for the future of production cars is addressed by the solution known as Parking Guide – a technology for locating potentially available parking spaces.
One infotainment system, nearly all smartphones. Volkswagen first introduced MirrorLink™ – mirroring of the smartphone on the vehicle display – with the launch of the Polo in 2014. MirrorLink™ was developed in an industrial consortium of automotive and smartphone manufacturers (the latter including Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG). In 2015, just one year later, Volkswagen will now be extending the range of on-board smartphone platforms by adding systems from Apple (Car Play) and Google (Android Auto). In the same way as MirrorLink™, they are used to display and operate apps over the touchscreen of the infotainment system. In the future, Volkswagen will manage the Car Play, Android Auto and MirrorLink™ systems under the App Connect concept.
MirrorLink™. In 2014, Volkswagen put its first smartphone platform in cars: MirrorLink™. MirrorLink™ makes it possible to display contents shown on the smartphone and operate smartphone functions via the touchscreen of the infotainment system. To avoid distracting the driver, specially designed apps can be used during the drive. This is done intuitively: the user simply connects the smartphone to the car and then uses the app over the infotainment system display. MirrorLink™ makes use of an industry standard of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC); according to this standard, the smartphone apps are "mirrored" on the car's touchscreen, and, as mentioned, their operation is networked to the infotainment system. Since the smartphone apps are always up-to-date, MirrorLink™ does not become obsolete. Volkswagen apps available under MirrorLink™ are: My Guide, Think Blue. Trainer, Shared Audio and Sound Journey. Now these apps will not only be available for Mirror Link™, but also for all App Connect technologies in the USA.
- My Guide: This app suggests destinations in the vicinity of the car. Restaurants might be selected and integrated into navigation, for instance.
- Think Blue. Trainer: The Think Blue. Trainer app specifically assists the driver in efficient and eco-friendly driving.
- Shared Audio: This app lets everyone in the vehicle stream their favorite songs from a shared play list and play them back in the car.
- Sound Journey: The functions of this app convert every route segment into a song that is "composed" based on vehicle data and a music genre.
In the future, MirrorLink™ features will not only be extended with new Volkswagen apps but also with apps from external project partners. Already available today are Glympse, Aupeo!, miRoamer and Parkopedia.
- Glympse: The driver and passengers can use Glympse to share their location with friends and acquaintances.
- Aupeo!: This app was developed for the enjoyment of music. It is a radio station from Aupeo! that can be adapted to personal tastes.
- miRoamer: This app enables access to the world's largest selection of Internet radio content.
- Parkopedia: Parkopedia is the world's largest supplier of parking space information. It lets users find an available parking space faster based on real-time information on availability, opening times and prices.
Apple CarPlay. In 2015, Volkswagen will also be offering CarPlay by Apple – as shown integrated in the Connected Golf at the CES in Las Vegas. It lets everyone with an iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus use numerous smartphone apps over the infotainment system. Here too, the smartphone programs are "mirrored". CarPlay feeds the iPhone apps Telephone, News, Maps and Music into the infotainment system via a USB interface. The apps in the Volkswagen are controlled either over the touchscreen of the infotainment system or by voice control via Siri (Apple).
- Telephone: Everything operates just like an iPhone here. From the touchscreen users can perform these functions: answer call, end call, switch phone to mute, display the keypad, retrieve the phone book and retrieve voice mails. As an alternative, all of this may be done via Siri (by a long press of the voice control button on the multifunction steering wheel).
- News: It is very cool to have text messages read aloud by Siri. What is perfect here is that Siri can be used to generate your own text messages during the drive.
- Maps: CarPlay makes the entire functionality of the Maps app available in the infotainment system. This includes detailed route descriptions ("turn by turn"), traffic information and estimated trip times.
- Music: The familiar access to the media library is available via touchscreen and/or Siri. CarPlay also recognizes other audio apps that are installed for playing back music, radio and podcasts on the iPhone. For instance: Podcasts, Spotify and Sticher Radio.
Android Auto. Its name describes what it can do. Android Auto was developed by Google for Android smartphones. Exactly as when MirrorLink™ and CarPlay are used, select apps of these phones are shown on the touchscreen of the infotainment system. Android Auto will be available starting in 2015. A USB connection serves as the interface. The numerous apps that can be incorporated via Android Auto include classics such as Google Maps, Google Play Music, WhatsApp and Spotify. Also included: SoundCloud, Text Me!, textPlus, Sticher Radio, Pandora® internet radio, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Pocket Casts, Joyride Podcast, Kik, MLB.com, NPR One, Songza and Umano. Many apps under Android Auto can be operated either by touchscreen operation or by Google Voice voice control; voice control is activated by pressing the relevant button on the multifunction steering wheel of the Volkswagen.
Guide & Inform. In Europe, Guide & Inform offers services such as Online Traffic Information, Online Destination Import, Google Earth, Google Street View, My Special Destinations (integration of personalized POIs), News, Vehicle Status Report and Weather. In North America, some of these services are integrated in Travel Link and in Safe & Secure (extended with functions specific to the USA). Therefore, Guide & Inform will be omitted at this point (for information on Guide & Inform, go to: www.volkswagen-media-services.com).
Safe & Secure. Services in the Car-Net cluster Safe & Secure let Volkswagen drivers optimize their personal safety. An SOS button and a road service button, for example, can be used to immediately request help. In addition, a lot of important information about the car can be accessed. The overall concept is implemented by a control unit integrated in the vehicle. An overview of functions:
- Personal Emergency Call
- Telemetric Road Service Call
- Vehicle Localization
- Virtual Fence
- Speed Alarm
- Vehicle Status Report
- Service Shop Scheduling
- Help in Destination Search
- Display of Vehicle Status
- Horn and Flash (to find vehicle)
- Unlock Doors
e-Remote / e-Remote SmartTV. Other apps that have already been implemented are the Volkswagen Car-Net solutions in the e-Remote cluster. These are apps that were specially developed for use in electric and plug-in hybrid models. They were therefore already introduced in the e-up! and Golf GTE that are sold in Europe and in the e-Golf that is now being offered in the USA. e-Remote lets users adjust settings and make inquiries via smartphone. In Las Vegas, Volkswagen is also showing that in the future it will also be possible to control e-Remote by smartwatch – such as the Samsung Gear S. Also planned is an application that can be called up via a television ("SmartTV"). Specifically, the app contains the following functions:
- Programming of departure time
- Climate control
- Battery charging
- Query vehicle data
- Query vehicle status
Information via satellite. Volkswagen utilizes all data sources for maximum networking. Along with online connections and terrestrial and digital radio reception, in the USA there is also radio reception via satellite. The German carmaker is offering satellite radio reception for its models in cooperation with the US-based company SiriusXM under the name Travel Link. Satellite radio offers a number of advantages. For one, radio reception is via satellite, so it can be used in regions in which radio over terrestrial broadcasting towers does not have full coverage. For another – and this is where the Connected Golf comes into play again – various supplemental information can also be received by satellite (in Europe some of these services are integrated in "Guide & Inform"). This information includes the following areas of interest:
- Weather Maps
- Weather Information
- Ski Information
- Movie Listings
- Fuel Prices
Rear seat entertainment via tablet and smartwatch. Until now, control of infotainment functions was reserved for just the driver and front passenger. Media Control – a new infotainment extension via app – now lets you conveniently control all main functions via a tablet, even from the rear seats. Media Control will be the rear seat entertainment system of the future. Now it is no longer necessary to buy any expensive hardware, rather rear seat passengers can simply connect their tablets to the infotainment system via the Wi-Fi hotspot. Controllable functionalities – which can all be accessed in the Connected Golf at the CES – include the radio, all media sources (e.g. USB, CD or DVD, hard drive, online song search) as well as navigation.
The Media menu shows such information as the artist, album name and cover. In the radio, it is possible to modify station selection from station icons and lists, the station search and display of RBDS information as well as frequencies. In the Navigation menu, along with standard functions, it is also possible to make a Google address search on the Internet then send it as a destination input. In addition, guests in the rear seating area are able to send calendar events and address book entries to the infotainment system as navigation destinations. The volume control can be adjusted in any context, just as the balance and fader settings can be. The tablet can be used to select from the available audio sources, to access the media library and to control basic operating functions such as start, stop, pause, forward and back. To optimize operating convenience, and to make it easy to watch movies, Volkswagen offers a device-specific tablet bracket as an accessory that also supplies electricity to the device. One innovation that Volkswagen is showing at the CES in Las Vegas is how, in the future, it will be possible to use a smartwatch to control the infotainment system. This means that Volkswagen drivers will essentially carry the media library on their wrists.
Navigation that thinks ahead
Regular Routes. Navigation systems provide detailed information on the traffic situation, warn the driver of traffic jams and suggest alternative routes. On many daily drives, however, the navigation system is not even used, because the routes are simply so familiar. Typical examples of such routes are the daily commute to work, a drive to the supermarket or to kindergarten. Therefore, Volkswagen will now be extending its systems to include Regular Routes functionality. Here, the navigation system "memorizes" regularly driven routes and scans them for traffic disturbances – even when navigation is inactive. If there are points of traffic congestion, a detour is recommended.
Before heading out, the driver can choose to have regularly driven routes automatically recommended. This simplifies destination input considerably. Regular Routes is also networked with the rest of the vehicle electronics. For instance, the car uses information about the predicted route to clean the diesel particulate filter along a suitable route segment or to integrate information about descents and inclines as well as acceleration and braking operations into the operating and charging strategy of plug-in hybrid models.
Parking Guide. To find a parking space in a public space with a high rate of success – that is precisely what Parking Guide will achieve in the near future. It is all based on the familiar digital street maps that are used in all navigation devices and on the servers of Internet services for route calculation. With Parking Guide, the information shown on such a digital map is extended to include potential parking spaces along the streets. What is ingenious about this is the way in which the data are acquired: with the help of ultrasonic sensors which are installed in every vehicle with a parking assistant. While driving past parking spaces in areas that have been mapped accordingly, it recognizes whether parking spaces are available. Each individual car individually computes the occupation rate of a parking area where it is located, and it transmits the data online to what is known as a backend – a computing center. There, the information from many vehicles is collected anonymously, and it is converted into a digital pattern. This yields a digital map which provides information on parking area occupation rates – and indeed individually according to the street section and time of day.
People who use Parking Guide get information on parking areas for which the probability is high that it has available parking spaces (specific parking spaces are not shown). In addition, "parking routes" can be calculated for driving along the streets with the highest parking availability. A benefit: While routes are generally calculated according to criteria such as "fastest" or "shortest," the Parking Guide considers community data that is used to customize the navigation process.