As consumers discover the advantages of in-vehicle entertainment, the automotive industry is experiencing surging interest in further developing the automotive technology. Features such as rear-seat DVD players and satellite radio have been especially successful. Modern consumers’ desires for on-the-move infotainment may be further fueled by the needs of larger families and longer travel times.
Indeed, vehicle manufacturers have indicated they will continue to use electronics to gain an edge with consumers. A particularly family-friendly feature, in-vehicle entertainment systems are increasingly integrated into SUVs and minivans. Children who once insisted “Are we there yet?” may now be the last to leave the vehicle when a favorite movie is in play.
Rear Seat Entertainment (RSE) systems are factory-installed and integrated into the vehicle’s interior to allow rear-seat passengers to play DVD movies, watch broadcast media or plug in a game platform via an LCD color monitor. The DVD player forms the core of the system, which can also play audio CDs and MP3s as well as display JPG format images.
Automotive technology for video/wireless systems with tailored occupant options continues to be explored and fine-tuned. With this technology, drivers can listen to satellite radio while passengers can separately use headphones to listen to MP3 players or watch DVDs.
Due to the appeal of DVD-based RSE systems and mobile satellite television systems, the focus on the automotive infotainment industry has shifted recently. Once a predominantly car audio systems-based entertainment market, audio-video-based infotainment systems have allowed the industry to realize the concept of multi-zone infotainment in passenger vehicles.
Backseat television, the next big wave of in-vehicle entertainment, is becoming a reality with the introduction of Sirius Backseat TV. When equipped with this service, parents can leave the DVDs at home and click on satellite television programming instead.
According to a Sirius press release, Chrysler LLC was announced as the exclusive automaker to offer Sirius Backseat TV beginning with its 2008 model-year vehicle lineup. Another press release in February 2008 announced an agreement to extend Sirius’ exclusive relationship with Chrysler through September 2017.
The Sirius system boasts a dual DVD system, which can play different media at the same time through an innovative multimedia system. While rear-seat passengers watch Sirius Backseat TV, front-seat occupants can listen to Sirius Satellite Radio. The system is operated from either the rear-seat entertainment unit or the radio head unit via an in-vehicle satellite video receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas. The channel name, program title and rating are also displayed on the screen. In addition, when the vehicle is in park mode, programming can be displayed on the multimedia screen for front-seat viewing.
Developing technology that retains its shelf life and exceeds consumer demand is a challenging endeavor to fulfill. And it’s the type of challenge OEMs and their suppliers expect to overcome for the in-vehicle market. Given the developing nature of the market, parents who once struggled to get their kids into the car may have a new fight on their hands, getting them out.