QNX's Smart Concept Car Keeps Drivers in the Know

Staff Writer

QNX 2015 Tech Demo

LAS VEGAS - While Blackberry has become an afterthought in the smartphone market, its QNX Software Systems has created a car experience that makes driving other automobiles feel like a horse and buggy. QNX brought a luxurious Maserati called the 2015 Technology Concept Car to CES 2015. Stuffed to the gills with numerous cameras, sensors and displays controlled by a massive touchscreen, the Maserati surrounds you with information and entertainment from every angle.

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QNX designed a custom dash for the Maserati to facilitate the super-sized touch screen that serves at the main interface between driver and car. You navigate around the menus just like on other modern touch screen devices, although QNX designed the interface with big buttons, ensuring choices are easy to select, hopefully even while driving. Better yet, every function can also be controlled by voice — allowing you to make calls, look up points of interest and change music without ever taking your hands off the wheel.

But the screen didn’t stop at just the dashboard. QNX equipped the Maserati’s instrument cluster, rear seat, and side and rear view mirrors with screens linked to cameras on the outside of the car. The cameras use the visual data to provide collision warnings on all sides of the car. The cameras also can gather data such as the current speed limit by reading them off passing signs.

QNX installed a series of indicator lights near the base of the windshield, which works with the car’s map to indicate an upcoming turn and/or prevent collisions by tracking objects in the distance. The lights shift from green to orange the closer you get, which should give you time to react.

It seems every major chip maker is working with QNX too. The Maserati’s system was powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, while the Jeep’s OS ran on a processor from Texas Instruments. There were also demo testbeds powered by an Intel CPU and Nvidia’s Tegra SoC as well.

Even Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay can run on top of QNX’s platform, although it’s the car maker that ultimately decides which system will reach consumers.

After my time with QNX’s platform, I was left with the impression there’s finally a company that just “get’s it” when it comes to the technology in cars. The company has learned from the success of modern mobile devices and brought that knowledge to the auto world. Based on the demonstration at CES 2015, QNX promises a bright future for the car of tomorrow.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.