Smartphone terminal combines wireless charging, antenna and NFC
Continental’s smartphone integration is designed according to the Qi standard from Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). The automotive supplier believes that Qi offers ideal properties to integrate smartphones wirelessly into vehicles in that it supplies charging currents in the same magnitude as the widespread USB connection, resulting in comparable charging times as wire-bound charging systems. The system supports smartphones of all operating systems. The requirement is, however, that the respective smartphone model either supports Qi wireless charging directly or allows for replacing its back lid against a Qi-compatible one. Continental lists a number of available smartphone models across all operating system camps that meet these conditions. Among them are models from Samsung, Nokia, Apple and LG.
The crucial point in wireless charging is, according to Continental, the temperature management: It has to make sure that no component of the smartphone or its counterpart in the car exceeds the maximum temperature. In addition, Continental equipped the system with an object recognition that interrupts the charging process if metallic objects such as coins, keys, or even chewing gums with metal foil packaging are deposited inadvertently in the smartphone charger.
Besides the Qi standard, there are alternative standards for wireless charging at the market – like, for instance PMA from the Power Matter Alliance or A4WP from the Alliance for Wireless Power. Continental plans to support these standards too; the respective development is already under work.
The smartphone terminal also connects the smartphone wirelessly to the vehicle’s antenna. Towards this end the terminal is equipped with a passive antenna coupling element, developed by antenna expert company Kathrein Automotive. This element also features a ‘Compenser’ unit that adjusts for the losses resulting in the passive coupling element and the antenna feeder. This approach results in more stable mobile radio connections, better voice quality, and lower exposure to electromagnetic fields for driver and passengers.
In addition to wireless charging and wireless antenna coupling, the Continental terminal offers an NFC connection with the vehicle’s head unit. In automotive environments, NFC is used to authorise coupling processes (pairing) or for digital car keys. The system at hand facilitates the connectivity between car and terminal – but the way it is utilised is up to the automotive OEM. Possible functions would be, for example, activation of personal settings in the vehicle, stored in the smartphone. Preferred radio stations, HVAC settings or seat and mirror position according to the individual driver’s needs would be feasible, to name just a couple of examples.
Not part of the terminal’s functionality are smartphone GUI integration schemes such as Apple’s Car Play or similar schemes for other operating systems. However, the system supports the pairing process between smartphone and vehicle; the actual communication between vehicle and smartphone during operation is conducted via Bluetooth. It is subject to the smartphone operating system vendors decision if and to which extend smartphone control functions are transferred to vehicle control elements, a Continental spokesperson explained.
The terminal has a modular design, enabling customers to decide which functionality and which elements they want to integrate into their vehicles. Series production will launch as early as 2015. The Continental spokesperson however declined to specify which OEM would be the customer.
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