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Scosche, Sony Out of Touch with Automotive UI Mainstream

by Roger Lanctot | Aug 20, 2012

Sometimes a company does something so wrong-headed it is impossible to ignore. The normally very clever executives at Scosche - pioneers in automotive infotainment system integration - have announced their plans to re-enter the car stereo market with a head unit that enables use of the mobile phone as a remote control, according to a report in the CEOutlook newsletter (http://bit.ly/RbDe4k - Scosche Debuts Car Radio at KnowledgeFest). Even worse, Sony has similar plans for 2013.

At a time when U.S. government regulators are threatening to disable the use of mobile phones in cars altogether to mitigate distracted driving, Scosche is launching a system that encourages the driver to use his or her mobile phones as a remote control for the car stereo. The whole objective of OEM automotive engineering efforts around integrating mobile phones in the car for the past eight years or more has been to shift control of the phone to the vehicle HMI.  The over-arching message to consumers: Don't touch your phone when you are driving.

Somehow, Scosche has seen fit to affect an industry U-turn to shift control back to the phone. Scosche has also somehow missed the tidal wave of headlines pronouncing the imminent arrival of Apple’s Siri voice interface for automotive aftermarket integration, along with competing solutions from Nuance, AT&T and others.  The goal, again, control the phone with the vehicle HMI - steering wheel controls, voice, head unit touch screen, hardware controller.

The only possible good news perceivable in this announcement is that it will shine a white hot light on aftermarket remote controls and, maybe, clarify the need for some industry soul searching as to the efficacy of these systems in a voice-enabled in-vehicle interface future. I have a lot of respect for Scosche and I am confident they will recognize their bungle and get a Siri or some other kind of voice-based interface in the box with their new systems before they launch.

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