By Martin Wilde
The momentum around the adoption of Open Source for the automotive In-Vehicle-Infortainment (IVI) environment got another couple boosts recently. The Genivi Alliance announced in late July that it chose the Linux Foundation's Intel- and Nokia-backed MeeGo operating system as the basis of its next "Apollo" reference release for open source Linux-based IVI systems, followed less than a week later by the 1.0 release of the MeeGo for IVI platform. Running Linux on an Intel Atom processor, MeeGo for IVI ships with a sample Qt-based IVI Home Screen and taskbar featuring a scroll-wheel, as well as automotive-specific middleware components and sample applications.
This new spirit of openness and willingness to share and expand technology among historically rival manufacturers is a marked turnaround in the corporate car culture. Whether it's simply a marriage of convenience or a sign of the truly difficult times facing the industry, it's no less remarkable for its magnitude.
Automotive companies are concerned about driver distraction caused by IVI systems and Teleca believes that existing OS platforms like MeeGo and Android need to be enhanced to be able to certify which apps are safe for driving, with some kind of software or physical silicon partitioning to make sure that dangerous apps are locked out while the car is being driven.
But given that multiple car manufacturers are considering whether to go open source or to keep seeking proprietary solutions is evidence that the scalability and speed of innovation are virtually impossible to match in a proprietary software environment.