Embedded control: broadband LAN delivers infotainment options

One of the themes at the Embedded Systems Conference (April 3-5, 2007) was the ubiquitous nature of broadband LAN technology. Machine builders and designers of vehicle control systems are gaining new options for small-space, high data throughput networking.

04/26/2007


San Jose , CA —One of the themes at the Embedded Systems Conference (April 3-5, 2007) was the ubiquitous nature of broadband LAN technology. Machine builders and designers of vehicle control systems are gaining new options for small-space, high data throughput networking. SMSC showed off its intention to bring broadband networking inside an SUV near you with its INIC eLITE infotainment system solution.

The idea is to carry the signal information required by the various services now available in high-end passenger vehicles, such as high-definition video, audio, navigation, and so forth, throughout the cabin area on one twisted-pair digital network. The information is carried in packet form in a CANbus-like frame that circulates around a ring-topology network.

Audio information, for example, might originate in a CD changer mounted in the back, and be delivered to headphones for Dad in the front passenger’s seat. Mom, who’s driving, might listen through another set of headphones for traffic reports sourced at the radio mounted in the dashboard, while simultaneously getting navigation directions from the GPS unit, whose display hangs at the top of the windshield. Finally, little Josey is watching the “Wizard of Oz” sourced at the DVD player built into the center console, with video displayed on the LCD screen set in the back of the driver’s seat and audio delivered through a third set of headphones.

Instead of miles of spaghetti wiring bulging the vehicle’s interior panels, however, there’s one twisted pair daisy chained from node to node. This Inic eLite network carries the information as low-power broadband digital signals, while each output node (such as in this case, a headphone set) carries its own decoder and amplifier powered by simple 12 V dc system power.

To demonstrate how well the system works, SMSC set up a network in their booth over which they delivered two HDTV programs, two standard definition TV programs, a video camera, and other services simultaneously.

C.G. Masi, senior editor charlie.masi@reedbusiness.com

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