The priorities of carmakers today have shifted markedly from where they were just a few decades ago. Rather than sell their products based on speed and horsepower, safety, convenience and comfort are now the hallmarks of a market leader, with luxury touches to be found throughout the cabins of even the most entry-level coupes and sedans.
Leading this charge are infotainment systems, which, as we’ve discussed in past posts, aim to bring all of the creature comforts of your home entertainment system into the cockpit. Passengers now leverage these systems for all manner of content consumption, from syncing up their car to a preferred music streaming service to enjoying the latest movies and television from screens within the cabin and even on a passenger’s phone.
Bringing these infotainment systems to market has been made possible through collaboration between automakers and companies far outside the traditional automotive world. Take, for instance, the QNX Hypervisor 2.0 operating system, which was developed by the once dominant smartphone manufacturer, BlackBerry. This system is found in a range of luxury vehicles to deliver an intuitive user interface that gives drivers full control over the different content being consumed by passengers within the vehicle.
What truly sets the QNX system apart, however, is its ability to virtualize separate operating systems for each component of the vehicle, essentially allowing the Hypervisor 2.0 to function as a completely separate entity than the rest of the vehicle’s instrumentation. For instance, should a car’s main infotainment system be hacked or fail, the vehicle’s instrument cluster – the actual tools needed to put the car into drive, neutral, reverse or park – won’t be affected, and can still be controlled via the screen used for infotainment despite that system’s operations being put on hold.
The goal of keeping the many different operating systems that both allow the vehicle to stay in motion and the passengers within entertained separate is to alleviate the damage that could potentially be done through hacking. There have been numerous examples of hackers in the past accessing a vehicle’s infotainment system and by proxy essentially taking the keys to the car out of the hands of the driver.
While these steps from BlackBerry will reduce the risk of driving danger associated with the hacking of infotainment systems, users still need to be wary about protecting the content and data that they store within these OSs. Rather than saving content or personal information directly onto the car’s infotainment platform, for instance, drivers should instead leverage a device like LINK to safely store and share content they take from home with the entertainment consoles they use on the road.
LINK can store up to 2 TB of data, which is more than enough for even the longest road trips, allowing users to keep their personal information stored on LINK with them once they exit the vehicle, and allow them to return to it freely once they get back on the road.