QNX Automotive Concepts
I was stoked to see that QNX had a mockup of my previous PlayBook-in-car dream...

Back in March, prior to the release of the BlackBerry PlayBook, I wrote an editorial here on CrackBerry called How RIM Can Win the Next Great Tablet Race - PlayBook in Cars From Factory. Knowing that QNX, which is at the core of the PlayBook's Tablet OS, is also running the computers in dozens of car manufacturers these days, it made sense to connect the dots and go there - this would be a BlackBerry addict's dream come true. Take a look at the photo above and below, and you'll see this isn't only my dream, but also one of the many potential visions QNX has for the future of mobile technology in automobiles.

Last week when I was in Waterloo, Ontario -- the hometown of BlackBerry -- I had the chance to talk to Derek Kuhn, the VP of Marketing for QNX, for an hour and walk through some of the trends they're seeing and where they think the future of the automobile cockpit experience is going. QNX has a big footprint in automotive, already being utilized in over 200 automobile models (they're pretty much in every German-manufactured automobile and many, many more) and they're continuing to grow in this area.

QNX Automotive Concepts

In the past, in-car automobile technology has typically lagged consumer electronics by a pretty big margin, but it's clear that car manufacturers want to change that. QNX is already starting to see this happen in their workflow. In the past, car companies would typically work four years ahead on their models (think 2010 models being developed in 2006), with the electronics locked down - once a car hits the market you don't see the computer software get upgraded. But already automotive is starting to move much faster, as more and more it's becoming what you can do in your car that's as important a selling feature as horsepower, fuel mileage, body style historically have been. With automotive wanting to keep up with the consumer market, the manufacturer's lead time from concept to reality on the electronics/infotainment/computers is becoming much shorter (think as fast as a year vs. 3-4 years).

If you start to think about a future where cars have data connections to a carrier and on-board computers can be updated wirelessly over the air (think about how easy and reliable it is to do an OS update on your PlayBook), things start to get exciting. And if you think to start about automotive cockpits that feature more and more LCDs and touchscreens (in other words what you see in your interior is driven by software, not hardware), then things get REALLY exciting. I was lucky enough to snag the two images in this article from QNX, but let's just say that dozens of mockups and usage cases demonstrating the future of where automobile is going. When you have a data-connected, location-aware car with a lot of screens it, things can get crazy awesome. And when you further think that QNX will be at the heart BlackBerry and the heart of your next car, you start to get goosebumps over the things QNX and BlackBerry will be able to accomplish over the years ahead. 

So that brings us to the question of the week.... close your eyes and think real hard.... where do YOU want to see mobile technology in automobiles go? Drop us a comment with your wish list feature. And start saving your pennies... as the odds are your wish may be available sooner than you might think.