SmartDeviceLink: A New Dimension in Car & Driver Connectivity

A growing part of the overall enjoyment of the driving experience comes from how smoothly a driver is able to control and interact with the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system. Drivers intuitively want to connect their smartphones and apps directly to their IVI. They want to stay in their familiar digital environments and their apps while driving. Seamless and aesthetically integrated IVI connectivity technology is the newest industry challenge. This is where SDL comes in.

SmartDeviceLink (SDL) is a leading standardized solution being developed by a consortium headed by Ford and Toyota to manage open source software for smartphone app development and connectivity for vehicles. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium (SDLC) was established in November, 2016 and also includes the Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) and Suzuki Motor Corporation. Luxoft was a technological partner on the project from the very beginning along with suppliers Elektrobit and Xevo. The consortium is focused on significantly increasing the choice for consumers in how they connect and control their smartphone apps on the road.


What is SDL exactly?

SmartDeviceLink is an open source POSIX-compliant technology platform that allows communication between smartphone applications and in-vehicle software. In-vehicle infotainment systems are connected to third party enabled applications. It can be deployed to Linux, QNX, Windows or other popular embedded OS and can communicate with any mobile device OS such as iOS or Android using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB drives. Ford initially developed SDL and contributed it to the open source community in 2013. Since then Ford has continued to lead the effort for adoption and improvement of the standard. Ford's latest infotainment offering, SYNC 3, comes equipped with AppLink powered by SDL.

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What are the advantages of SDL?

The main advantage of SDL is that customers will be able to voice-activate their apps using SDL and stay connected on the move. Pandora, Spotify, Glympse, Audioteka and many other popular apps are already available. Additionally, applications on mobile devices offer almost unlimited possibilities in extending a car’s infotainment system. SDL supports various Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs). Traditional car features like radio, climate control and diagnostics are always available in IVI even when a mobile device isn’t connected. All additional capabilities become available when a mobile device is connected. Mobile device apps offer almost unlimited possibilities in extending a car’s infotainment system. These additional features can be added onto over time. By updating the app on a smartphone the capabilities of the IVI are also updated. SDL provides several other functionalities such as UI Manipulation, Hardware Buttons, Touch Screen, Voice Recognition, Text-To-Speech, Media Data Streaming, Mobile Navigation, Vehicle Diagnostics and Remote Control.


The SDL Ecosystem

The core component of SDL is the software which automotive companies (OEMs) install in their vehicle head units. Integrating this component into their head unit and HMI based on a set of guidelines and templates enables access to various smartphone applications. The iOS and Android libraries are integrated into their applications by app developers to enable command and control via the connected head unit. An optional SDL server can be used by automotive OEMs to update application policies and gather usage information for connected applications.

VIDEO – how does agile messaging work in a car?

If you connect your smartphone to your car you can manage messaging easily by voice. You can manage your preferences and set messaging to private mode if you are traveling with friends and guests. See this technology in practice in the video below.

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