Automotive Navigation Heads Into The Cloud

According to the market research firm iSuppli Corp., automotive navigation systems increasingly are transitioning from standalone devices to connected systems capable of accessing up-to-date map data and other information from the cloud.

About 20 percent of in-vehicle navigation systems sold in 2010 will include connectivity, either through an embedded modem or a tethered mobile device, amounting to 1.8 million units. This will rise to 90 percent in 2017, amounting to 27 million units.

Cloud-sourced navigation is an evolution of connected navigation systemsa trend that started several years ago. Traditional car navigation systems use databases stored on the device itself but future navigation systems will rely on information that is stored in the cloud. Maps, points of interest, traffic and weather are examples of cloud-sourced content that is enabled through connectivity.

Rising sales of navigation systems with two-way connectivity are being fueled by the advantages of connecting to the cloud, said Phil Magney, Vice President (Automotive Research) at iSuppli. By connecting to the cloud, navigation systems give motorists access to the most up-to-date databases in the world. Traffic, weather, and points of interest change constantly, so access to the cloud is vital.

Static databases will become a thing of the past in automotive navigation during the next 10 years, said Egil Juliussen, Principal Analyst & Fellow (Automotive Research) at iSuppli. Connectivity means motorists will have multiple options in terms of on-board and off-board navigation resources.

On-board connected navigation systems that store maps on the device will refresh periodically to reflect changes and updates. In contrast, off-board navigation systemswhich access a server for map datawill need constant connectivity. Both employ cloud-based data access.

Traffic information is the leading cloud-sourced service for navigation systems, which is constantly refreshed to reflect the latest updates. Several more cloud-based navigation services are being employed including weather information, Point of Interest (POI) search, destination download, traffic camera visuals and map updates.

Worldwide sales of all types of navigation systems will exceed 100 million units in 2010, with smart phones and Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs) accounting for the bulk of the units. Slightly more than 9 million in-vehicle navigation systems will be sold in 2010, dwarfed by the nearly 100 million PND and smart phone sales.

Smart phones will generate the growth in the navigation segment. PND shipments during the next decade are forecasted to be at about 40 million units. In comparison, 330 million smart phones with navigation will be sold in 2017.

Smartphone navigation increasingly is becoming free of charge and the use case is mostly in the autoalthough pedestrian navigation is beginning to emerge. By 2017, many of the smart phone-based navigation solutions will be integrated within the vehicle system where the display is shown on the head-unit and the voice guidance and voice input are through the vehicles Human Machine Interface (HMI).

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