Infotainment experts are weighing in on software and hardware for in-car infotainment systems. These onboard connected dashboards have come a long way in a short time, evolving from the most basic entertainment system to a full-featured interface that controls just about everything your car does.

Today’s infotainment systems control communications and entertainment functions, connect to your preferred apps, and new capabilities are introduced every day. Infotainment experts agree that in-car infotainment systems are an essential part of everyday life, perhaps rivaling the popularity of the smart TV.

 

The In-Car Infotainment: What’s New?

Infotainment technology is advancing faster than some manufacturers can keep up. If you purchased a new car in 2018 or earlier, your system is likely already outdated.

So, let’s look at what infotainment experts have tapped as state-of-the-art features and why these upgrades are in such high demand.

 

The Evolution of In-Car Infotainment

In-car infotainment isn’t that new—at least, not the idea. The car radio is the earliest example, which evolved into AM/FM, 8-Track or cassette decks, then CD players, and eventually adapted to accommodate the increasing preference for MP3s. Satellite radio came next, and somewhere in between, we started to see DVD players in seatbacks for the kids.

As mobile technology became more ubiquitous, vehicle systems expanded to offer Bluetooth connectivity to allow hands-free phone operation. Onboard navigation came next, eliminating the need for outboard GPS and integrating more convenience and connectivity into the car’s system.

Today, almost every new car in North America comes with a digital screen infotainment system. However, interfaces and capabilities vary considerably between manufacturers and user preference.

Infotainment experts say that the ideal infotainment system is easy to use and control. It should not cause distraction or force the driver into dangerous situations, such as searching for a control button that is not ergonomically positioned.

 

State-of-the-Art Infotainment in 2022

 

1.      Smartphone Connectivity

One of the most significant advances in infotainment, according to infotainment experts, is the wide availability of Android Auto and CarPlay. These apps seamlessly connect your smartphone to the car’s infotainment system. Some manufacturers, like Jaguar and BMW, have their own versions of CarPlay, but infotainment experts agree that this is easily the most essential feature.

 

2.      Head-Up Display

The head-up display (HUD) reduces the potential for distraction by projecting critical vehicle data—including navigation—onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight. Though this is not new technology (it was initially launched in the 1980s), what is new is its increasing availability in most new car infotainment systems.

Mercedes recently announced its newest innovation in HUD, revealing a 77” display that’s projected onto the dashboard with augmented reality (AR) overlays to enhance the nav system.

 

3.      Immersive Experiences

BMW recently introduced the Digital Art Car at CES 2022, an exciting advance in infotainment that combines a curved display with digital art and application experiences to create a fully immersive driving experience. Back at Mercedes, their MBUX infotainment systems can now share information between other passengers’ screens.

 

4.      Customizable Displays

Infotainment displays are becoming more custom, especially for vehicles that offer two-screen or wide-screen displays. Users can place vehicle data, phone displays, and entertainment exactly where they want them to be, a feature that is sure to gain ground quickly in the infotainment world.

 

Nifty Feature? Or Distraction?

One of the biggest issues with some infotainment systems is the potential for distraction. According to the infotainment experts at Consumer Reports, certain Lexus, Honda, Acura, and Infiniti models don’t make the grade.

In the case of the Lexus, the infotainment center requires precise input using a controller or touchpad. Drivers reported the accuracy involved tends to take their focus off the road. Honda, Acura, and Infinity split the system into two screens, and it’s not always easy to find the settings you want, even for frequently used commands.

Toyota and Honda users report their infotainment systems to be slow to respond with often-misunderstood voice commands.

Ultimately, continuing advancement in in-car infotainment will need to balance safety with convenience. As for innovation that will go the distance and launch us into the future, we’re already seeing evidence that will inform that journey.

Sidespin Group provides market insights, trends analysis, and opinions on intellectual property and all matters related to infotainment systems, connected vehicles, and smart TV patent litigation. To learn more, contact Sidespin Group’s infotainment experts today.