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Breakthrough Coming In Phone Connections To Car Stereos

Paris – Pioneer went to the Paris Motor Show to announce a breakthrough in connecting smartphones to touchscreen-equipped car stereos.

Technology licensed by Pioneer from Torrance, Calif.-based Abalta Technologies will eliminate the need for HDMI, RGB, or VGA adapter kits for motorists who want their in-dash touchscreens to display the user interfaces of smartphone apps and control the apps. Adapter kits cost up to around $100, excluding installation, and incorporate multiple cables and black boxes.

Pioneer’s first aftermarket products with Abalta’s Weblink technology will be available before the end of the year outside the U.S., Abalta president/CEO Michael O’Shea told TWICE. The products, however, will not be available initially in the U.S., he said. An update on U.S. timing might be available by the end of October, he noted.

In the Pioneer implementation, consumers will be able to use a simple USB connection to a smartphone to send an app’s GUI as a video stream to an in-dash touchscreen, with two-way communication over the cable, O’Shea said. The cable could be a Lightning-to-USB cable or 30-pin-to-USB cable for Apple mobile devices. USB connectivity is also available for Android devices.

Video stored on the phone or streamed by the phone could also be displayed on the in-dash screen.

Head-unit suppliers could opt for Weblink implementations allowing for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection to a head unit to deliver an app’s UI and video, he said. “We are working with several tier-one automotive suppliers and OEMs to integrate Weblink with their systems. Some may use wireless connectivity,” he noted.
In a statement, the companies said Weblink “creates a second virtual screen for apps on a smartphone that is then sent over to a vehicle’s screen via USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Customers also benefit from the flexibility that Weblink provides to use both Android and iOS devices without requiring any additional set up.” The solution “works with low-cost aftermarket and factory-installed vehicle infotainment systems,” the statement said.

Yutaka Sato, general manager of Pioneer’s aftermarket car electronics business division, said that with Weblink, “we eliminate the need for specialized cabling between the in-dash unit and the phone and simplify product set up for the user.”

Abalta focuses on connected-car solutions that “bridge the gap between the smartphone and the car’s infotainment system,” the company said. Abalta said it maintains “long-standing relationships with a portfolio of over 60 of the most recognizable brands in the world.”

Pioneer’s U.S. operation was unavailable for comment at post time.