Smartphones and driving
usually do not go hand in hand. Despite the many bans in place, one can spot
people using their smartphones while driving. Safety stipulates that drivers
use the vehicle's onboard controls to make calls, read text messages, search
the Internet, or update social media sites. Now Continental has come to the
rescue of those not keen to break the law. The multifunctional smartphone
terminal (MFST) offers vehicle manufacturers all over the world the foundation
for car drivers to use the smartphone functions easily, conveniently and safely
in their vehicle.
In a press release issued by
Continental, Andreas Wolf, head of the Body & Security business unit,
explains how the new terminal works, “The multifunctional smartphone terminal
puts an end to tangled phone cables once and for all. All the driver has to do
is place the smartphone in the box in the cockpit. He or she can then use the
car's controls to access all the relevant features during the journey. At the
same time, the phone is charged wirelessly.” The new terminal is to go into
production in 2015.
The multifunctional smartphone
terminal combines wireless charging of the smartphone battery, wireless antenna
coupling, and near field communications (NFC). According to the release, one
key innovation is that these three features do not require a cable connecting
the phone to the vehicle. Moreover, the modular design allows vehicle
manufacturers to decide which features they want to offer in their models.
There is help on the batter
front, first. Anyone who often uses a smartphone knows how fast the battery can
drain. This is why being able to charge a cell phone wirelessly in the car is
such a relevant feature. Compatible smartphones can be charged in the terminal,
saving space and without any tangled cables. The wireless charging system meets
the "Qi" standard specified by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).
Continental believes this standard is ideal for use in vehicles. For example,
it offers similar charging currents to standard USB charging connections and
has similar charging times to those of cable charging systems.
Many smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy
S5, S4 and S3, the LG G2, and the Nokia Lumia 1020, 925, 820 and 720, can
easily be equipped for wireless charging by simply replacing their back covers
with a Qi-compatible one. Qi-compatible cases are also available for the Apple
iPhone 5S, 5, 4S, and 4. Some models support the Qi standard right out of the
box, without a special back cover. These include the Nokia Lumia 1520, 930 and
920, the Google Nexus 5 and 4, and the LG Optimus G Pro.
The technology in use here is Continental's
reliable heat management system, which is essential for wireless charging. It
ensures that neither the smartphone nor the vehicle's components exceed their
specified maximum temperatures during charging. Furthermore, foreign object
detection ensures that inductive charging stops immediately if keys, coins or
chewing gum with metal foil packaging are placed in the smartphone terminal by
mistake. The clever cell phone box also meets all the electromagnetic
compatibility (EMC) requirements specified by the vehicle manufacturers.
Alongside the Qi-standard
supported by Continental, there are other wireless charging technologies such
as PMA (Power Matter Alliance) or A4WP (Alliance for Wireless Power) on the
market. Continental is already working on supporting these standards.
Wireless antenna coupling
For the best possible
connection, it is best to connect the smartphone to an antenna mounted on the
outside of the vehicle. This enhances the quality of the phone signal for
receiving and transmitting, particularly where network coverage is poor. An
external antenna reduces the electromagnetic load on the people inside the
vehicle and also spares the smartphone's battery. This is because the poorer
the reception is, the more power a cell phone needs to send and receive.
The smartphone terminal from
Continental also uses wireless technology to connect to an external phone
antenna on the vehicle. The multifunctional smartphone terminal has so-called
passive antenna coupling technology, developed by the well-known antenna
specialists Kathrein Automotive. To increase the quality of the network
connection to a maximum level, the system is usually equipped with an
additional compenser from Kathrein Automotive. The compenser compensates the
losses of passive antenna coupler and losses in the cable to the external phone
antenna (roof-mounted antenna). The benefits for the smartphone user at the
wheel include more stable downloads, more reliable streaming and improved voice
quality during calls. At the same time it prevents unnecessary electromagnetic
Near field communication (NFC)
The Continental terminal also
connects the smartphone to the vehicle architecture via near field
communication (NFC). NFC is a comparably recent wireless standard in
smartphones. With NFC, smartphones can be used to authorise coupling processes
or as a digital vehicle key. The multifunctional smartphone terminal from
Continental makes it easier to connect the smartphone to the vehicle’s systems
thanks to NFC. This can used to activate personal presets in the vehicle via
smartphone – from favourite radio stations to preferred air conditioning
settings to seat positions and mirror settings. This means the Continental
terminal offers manufacturers a wide range of features and makes it much easier
for drivers to use their smartphones safely in their cars.
Picture courtesy Continental
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