• Surprise! The new Mercedes S-Class has a massive touchscreen

    Surprise! The new Mercedes S-Class has a massive touchscreen

    To tide us over until we see the actual car in a few months, Mercedes has given us a sneak peek of its new flagship’s interior tech. And unsurprisingly there’s not a button in sight. Yep – the new S-Class is going to be a veritable tech fest, with a gigantic 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system at its core. And no physical climate controls, because it’s 2020 and apparently those aren’t allowed anymore. Climate controls are always displayed though, in a band running across the bottom of the screen. And Merc has elected to keep separate control panels, buttons and stalks for headlights, wipers and so-on. Don’t worry, it hasn’t gone full Tesla just yet. We’re told the new MBUX system has 50 per cent more processing power than the old one. Its GPU has 691 ‘gigaflops’ – whatever those are – and there’s a built-in 320GB solid-state hard drive. You can touch, swipe and pinch your way through menus, much as you can on your phone. You can talk to it, too – Merc claims its “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant, which can understand 27 different languages, is now cleverer and more ‘natural’ than ever and can do pretty much anything you ask of it. For some functions, though, you can just glance or gesture in a given direction. We’ve seen gesture control before and to be honest it’s a bit rubbish, but Merc’s new “MBUX Interior Assistant” promises more. Using cameras pointed at the car’s occupants, the system can effectively guess what it is you want to do, then do it for you. Look over your shoulder and it’ll automatically open the rear sunblind, for example. And if it sees you scrabbling around on the passenger’s seat at night looking for something, it’ll turn a light on for you. The system has other benefits – it knows when you want to get out of the car just by interpreting your body language, then can warn you about passing cars, cyclists or pedestrians. Clever if it works, but probably quite annoying if it doesn’t. The augmented-reality head-up display (AR-HUD) sounds cool. The S-Class can project directions (and so on) onto an area equivalent in size to a 77-inch telly, at a virtual distance of around ten metres. It can project arrows and instructions onto the road surface, leaving you in no doubt as to what lane you need to be in. Moreover the instrument cluster uses yet another camera to track your eyes and create a clever 3D effect. But the S-Class is a limo, really, so Mercedes says it has “systematically designed the new edition of its flagship model with the rear in mind”. Rear seat passengers get up to three screens, all with full access to the main infotainment system. In all, the S-Class gets up to five screens, some of which make use of OLED tech and haptic feedback. Content can be shared between screens, and all passengers can even set up their own profile, which is stored in the cloud and can be downloaded to other compatible Mercs. Or other seats in the same Merc. Your S-Class will know quite a bit about you, then. But fear not, because Merc ...
  • Microsoft and Bridgestone's New Tech Can Alert You of Tire Damage in Real-Time

    Microsoft and Bridgestone's New Tech Can Alert You of Tire Damage in Real-Time

    Cars keep getting smarter and smarter--and no, we're not talking Skynet levels of autonomy, but it's hard to ignore just how connected or automated cars are nowadays. A major plus is that all of this new tech is supposed to make our lives easier and safer, such as a new system by tech giant Microsoft and tire manufacturer Bridgestone, which focuses on one of the most important (and oftentimes overlooked) components of the automobile: the tires. Those large slabs of rubber are the only thing keeping your vehicle in contact with the road, so it's kind of a good idea to look after 'em, you know? This is why the aptly named "Tire Damage Monitoring System" (TDMS) makes sense and could be a game-changer for tire maintenance. Here's how it works: The offering uses existing hardware that is already equipped in compatible vehicles (such as tire pressure monitoring sensors) to determine if tire damage is present or irregularities can be detected. The hardware also logs telemetric data on road conditions and infrastructure--meaning that if you run over a pothole and the system detects possible damage to the tire's integrity, it can pinpoint the precise location where the damage occurred via GPS. Using other vehicle-to-everything (V2x) connectivity, the system can then supply that data to the necessary channels, whether it be other partially automated vehicles so they can also avoid that pothole, or a contractor who assess road data for the local government. Microsoft says that its TDMS service is available to all Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP) customers--such as Volkswagen (who partnered with Microsoft in 2018), Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault. It's not clear when or if this tech will reach other customers, but if it means safer cars on the road, everyone truly benefits. ——
  • Sodium-Ion Batteries Have Game-Changing Potential as Supply of Key Material Is Inexhaustible

    Sodium-Ion Batteries Have Game-Changing Potential as Supply of Key Material Is Inexhaustible

    A research project jointly executed by scientists at Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) resulted in the creation of a sodium-ion battery that is relatively on par with some commercial lithium-ion batteries in terms of performance. Their report, which was published in ACS Energy Letters on April 28, further opens up the possibility of the commercialization of the sodium-ion battery technology that is based on a ubiquitous and low-cost material. The latest sodium-ion battery can retain an 80% state of charge even after 1,000 cycles The device created by the WSU-PNNL team offers the best performance so far in the record for sodium-ion batteries. Specifically, it has a capacity comparable to that of some commercial lithium-ion batteries and retains 80% of its charge after going through more than 1,000 cycles. The research on the design of the device was headed by Lin Yuehe, a professor at WSU’s School of Mechanical and Material Engineering, and Li Xiaolin, a senior researcher at PNNL. The research was also supported by the Office of Electricity under the US Department of Energy. Imre Gyuk, director of the Office of Electricity, stated that the device created by the WSU-PNNL team represents a huge step forward in the development of sodium-ion batteries. Gyuk further pointed out that the battery market is showing a growing interest in replacing conventional lithium-ion batteries with sodium-ion batteries for many applications. Nevertheless, lithium-ion batteries are currently the dominant battery technology and widely adopted in consumer electronics (e.g., smartphones and laptops), electric mobility (e.g., electric cars), and utility services (e.g., battery storage plants). Despite being everywhere, lithium-ion batteries have limitations that could constrain their development. Their raw materials including lithium and cobalt are costly and rare. The main sources of these two metals are located outside of the US. As demand rises for electric cars and energy storage systems, lithium and cobalt will be increasingly difficult to obtain and could experience considerable price hikes in the future. Also, the supply gap and scalability are significant issues in using lithium-ion batteries to meet the growing demand from the market for grid-scale energy storage. The main advantage of sodium-ion batteries over lithium-ion batteries is that sodium is an element that is cheap and readily available in Earth’s crust and oceans. This battery technology is thus an ideal choice for grid-scale energy storage. However, sodium-ion batteries generally lag behind lithium-ion batteries in terms of performance. This weakness mainly has to do with an inherent shortcoming. Even though there are many prospective cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries, none of them can avoid the issue of the build-up of an inactive layer of sodium crystals on the surface of the cathode. The formation of the inactive layer interrupts the flow of ...
  • Apple Will Soon Let You Use Your iPhone as a Car Key

    Apple Will Soon Let You Use Your iPhone as a Car Key

    Apple announced the latest iOS 14 at annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), it also has a new service that will definitely make many car fans look forward to. That is, the Carkey function, which can unlock and start vehicles with intelligent devices – smartphone. The operating principle of apple Carkey is that the smart device must be paired with the vehicle, and then touch ID or face ID is used for identity verification. After verification, selected the function that you want to start. Finally, the smart device is close to the vehicle to lock, unlock or start the engine of the vehicle through NFC function. If the driver is not the owner himself, the authority of the digital car key can also be shared with relatives and friends by iMessage communication function. If the mobile phone is lost, this function can be turned off through icloud. You can get on the car through your mobile phone instead of searching your car key around in your bag. Apple Carkey can be authorized to five people at most. The owner can further limit the authorized person's horsepower, speed, radio volume, etc. in this way, if a child wants to borrow a car from his parents, he can prevent speeding or racing during driving. In addition, if the mobile phone power is insufficient, the system will reserve five hours of standby power after the shutdown. The apple Carplay interface used by the vehicle will also be updated, including the use of custom tablecloths and electric vehicle related functions, which will change the habits of using vehicles with the upcoming iOS 14. ——
  • Global HUD Shipments to Reach 15.6 Million Units by 2025

    Global HUD Shipments to Reach 15.6 Million Units by 2025

    With increasing road accidents in the world, the demand for embedded Head-up display (HUD) is rising. HUD ensures easy and safe reading of critical information like car speed, warning signals, indicator arrows for navigation, and fuel level. We estimate that the total global embedded HUD shipment will reach 15.6 million by 2025, with a CAGR of 17% during the 2019-2025 period. The following is our analysis and our forecast of how the global HUD market will behave till 2025. EVs to Account for 16% of HUD Sales by 2025, Regulations Key to Adoption Electric vehicles (EVs) are more tech-savvy than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and EV car-buyers are more willing to pay extra for advanced features like HUD. Therefore, we expect EVs to drive the HUD market because the adoption rate of other smart features like Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), connected car technology, and more, being higher than conventional cars. EVs including battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) will cover 30% of total vehicle sales by 2025. We expect EVs to account for 16% of total HUD sales by 2025. SUVs and autonomous vehicles are other potential segments for HUDs. In fact, once more L4 autonomous vehicles are introduced in 2023, we expect a rise in the market penetration of HUDs. China to continue to dominate global HUD market till 2025 China is expected to dominate the global HUD market during the forecast period, owing to rising sales of premium and mid-segment cars, which are more likely to have embedded HUDs. Moreover, China will account for a significant share of EV shipments in the world, benefiting HUD sales in the country. The US and Europe are also expected to see good growth during 2019-2025. Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and UAE will contribute more to the rest of the world section (RoW). Integrated and AR-based HUDs to become popular In the future, HUDs will get integrated with the vehicle’s systems and display additional information, including outside weather, On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) information, location search, and smartphone-based app services. The augmented reality (AR) based HUDs will identify blind spots and show timely warnings to prevent accidents. Moreover, holographic pictures will ensure better visibility, sharpness, picture quality. Combiner HUD to Continue Dominate Cheaper combiner HUDs will continue to dominate the global market. However, windshield HUDs will see a much faster growth during the 2019-2025 period. Windshield HUD – projecting images on the vehicle’s windshield – will increase its penetration in the global HUD market because it will be able to display more information with greater visual comfort. The higher cost of windshield HUD is hindering its growth for now, and it will have more penetration on premium segment cars. The combiner HUD – with information displayed on a separate combiner display – will have significant market share in medium and lower seg...
  • Decoding  Advanced Driver Assist System(ADAS)

    Decoding Advanced Driver Assist System(ADAS)

    What is ADAS? ADAS is an umbrella term for an electronic system embedded in a vehicle, designed with a human-machine interface to assist a driver in the process of driving. It monitors the surroundings of the vehicle using inputs from multiple data sources, including automotive imaging, LiDAR, radar, image processing, computer vision, and in-car networking to provide assistance to the driver for a safer and more comfortable driving experience. How does ADAS work? There are five key components powering ADAS functionality. Sensors: Sensors yield real-time, actionable data when connected to a network or cloud in the vehicle. They gather information on their immediate environment, such as pedestrians and oncoming cars. Processors: Processors are used for everything from building a real-time 3D spatial model of a car's surroundings to calculating proximity and threat levels based on the environment. Software: The software algorithms use the input from sensors to synthesize the environment surrounding a vehicle in real-time. The algorithms then provide output to the driver or specify how the system should actively intervene in vehicle control. Mapping: The ADAS mapping function stores and updates geographical and infrastructure information gathered via vehicle sensors to determine its exact location. This function maintains the information and communicates it to system control even if GPS coverage fails. Actuators: The electrification of the actuator system facilitates interaction with other electrical components in the vehicle. With processors to analyze data from vehicle sensors, the ADAS system can make decisions executable by actuators. How does ADAS ensure passenger safety? How does ADAS work? Some key ADAS features include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Warning Systems, Collision Warning Systems, Blind Spot Detection Systems, Night Vision Systems and Parking Assistance Systems to ensure vehicle safety. Adaptive Cruise Control: Adaptive Cruise Control is based on onboard radar or a laser sensor that is integrated within the engine as well as breaks of the vehicles so that when the system detects any vehicle in its roadway, it automatically slows down and then reaccelerate to the set speed when the path is clear. Lane Departure Warning System: This system uses a small camera mounted near the rearview mirror to recognize the striped and solid lane markings so that whenever the vehicle starts deviating from the lane without an appropriate turn signal, this system triggers an alarm to react to. Collision Warning System: Collision Warning Systems work on an integrated radar, laser and camera systems to generate audio, visual and tactical alerts in case of any possibility of collisions with another vehicle or object. Parking Assistance Systems: This system uses ultrasonic sensors fixed on the front and rear bumpers of the vehicle to detect obstacles while parking and trigger alarm. Night Vision and Pedestrian Detection System: Pedestrian ...
  • Shining Moment

    Shining Moment

    Founded in 1979, with 40 years electronic design manufacturing experience, First International Computer Inc. - FIC has been providing services from joint design, product development, system integration and supply chain management, to R&D support, procurement, production, box-build, sample build, NPI, MP, and other turnkey solution for automotive electronic design manufacturing, we have kept winning numerous awards over years. In 2020, the FIC group has again won the "Best Automotive Electronic Design Manufacturing" and "Best 3C Electronic Design Manufacturing" awards of AI Global Business Excellence in UK, and the augmented reality head-up display ( AR HUD ) and digital instrument cluster were the most attractive and creative inventions to the judges. With the highest respects, FIC with worldwide 4800 staffs and sincerely appreciate for all the supports and encouragements from global partners and customers. Our R&D team, sales engineers, after-sales service teams and thousands of production manufacturing engineers will continue to improve their capabilities and provide better services in order to enhance your automotive electronic products. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of physical activities have been postponed this year, and it's unfortunate that we might not be able to meet with all partners effectively. However, you can still follow FIC from our digital platforms, official website and social media find out the latest news. If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us, and we look forward to serving you. Thank you!
  • Why digital instrument cluster is better?

    Why digital instrument cluster is better?

    The car digital instrument cluster replaces the most representative parts of the existing cluster such as indicators and digits with screen, and provides complete freedom to alter the displayed content so that car manufacturers can define exclusive user interface to meet different requirements for the market users. The FIC digital cluster design uses LCD panel as display screen, which provides more powerful 2D/3D graphics and effects than the analogue instrument dashboard. It enhances not only the appearance of car interior with eye-catching graphics and features but also can be connected to the vehicle network, so that multimedia entertainment and basic vehicle information can be more logically displayed on screen; in addition, the simplicity design also leaves more space for better storage compartments. Different models and power vehicles need to be designed and manufactured in different ways for its car dashboard design manufacturing; usually, it is composed by LCD, protection screen, touch screen, backlight and other electronic components. Comparing with the traditional dashboard, the digital cluster information presented on a digital screen is more rich and diverse. The car information, the LCD cluster system and sensors need to work together by adjusting and verifying many times by car manufacturers and designers in order to provide better, safer and more accurate driving information for car users. An experienced automotive digital instrument cluster DMS (design manufacturing service) company is a key to fulfill the full electronics features of the modern automotive cockpit. The level of software expertise needed extends beyond the traditional embedded skill set. Joint design manufacturing and offering such capability to provide exclusive custom made digital cluster design with 2D/3D user interface and QNX software system integration for automotive Tier 1 & 2 electronic suppliers is what FIC does today. First International Computer Inc. Editorial: Jenna Lai / Image: Josephine Lo 2020/06/04
  • HUDs with LED and Laser Light to Become a Trend in Automotive Application

    HUDs with LED and Laser Light to Become a Trend in Automotive Application

    Automotive applications mark a niche market for global LED makers. While the developing electronic vehicle and autonomous driving technology with higher requirement for power saving open more opportunities for LED producers, LED technology progress also supports more application options for automobile manufacturers. Head up display (HUD) which enables drivers to obtain information while looking the frond is an application that can be enhanced through advance LED technologies. A HUD system usually include a picture generating unit (PGU) consisting of an LED array, a thin film transistor production display, a lens system and beam splitter. The units projects images and the images are reflected through fold mirrors and magnified on the windshield or a glass. Currently there are three types of HUDs for the automotive market, combiner HUD, windshield HUD and AR HUD. Combiner HUD has been replacing by windshield HUD and the application of AR HUD is expanding in high-end automobile models. AR HUD outpaces windshield HUD as it offers a longer virtual image distance (VID) which is around 7.5 to 15 meters and a wider field of view (FOV) that enable drivers to focus on the frond road without the need to change vision and attention to the windshield. Power LED or laser lights are critical for HUDs as they need to deliver light that is bright enough for drivers clearly see the projected images and information. Suppliers of the light source components of HUD include OSRAM Continental, Nichia and Episar. ——
  • Volvo still planning to roll out self-driving tech in cars by 2022 despite virus

    Volvo still planning to roll out self-driving tech in cars by 2022 despite virus

    New lidar-based "Highway Pilot" would let people drive eyes-off-road on select highways Volvo is grappling with plant shutdowns and layoffs, but one thing it’s not doing amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is pumping the brakes on autonomous driving development. The Swedish automaker said it will use sensors from Palo Alto, California-based lidar startup Luminar Technologies Inc. for a self-driving system installed in its cars starting in 2022. It’s the first large-scale production contract with a global automaker for Luminar, which counts Volvo as an investor. The technical and economic challenges of lidar sensors, which bounce lasers off objects to guide vehicles, have long been a stumbling block for companies looking to compete in the robotic-car race. Lidar systems have been dogged by problems with bad weather like thick fog or white-out conditions and costs that can run into the thousands of dollars. But Volvo, which is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., and Luminar say they’re using cheaper and better technology. The carmaker plans to use Luminar’s lidar in Highway Pilot, a new platform enabling hands-free highway driving in its cars. Volvo says its system won’t require drivers to keep their eyes on the road at all times. Volvo is forging ahead despite financial pressure from economic shutdowns triggered by the pandemic. The company eliminated 1,300 salaried jobs last month as part of ongoing changes to its cost structure. “The priorities we had are standing firm,” said Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer. “We are actually accelerating our transformation into those priorities.” Green said selling cars to individual consumers is the best way to commercialize autonomous technology, rather than betting on robotaxis or automated delivery vehicles. Luminar says it has been able to reduce costs by making all the parts used itself, including chips — which are the single most expensive component. ——
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