Innovations in consumer electronics are driving progress in technological development at a rapid pace – especially in communications and in mobile and home entertainment. That is why Audi has integrated many new features into its automobiles.
Convenient: the Audi phone box
In its latest models Audi can supply the Audi phone box as an option, which conveniently connects a cell phone to the car. Its centerpiece is a universal planar antenna that is integrated into the storage tray in the center armrest. It establishes a connection between the transmitting and receiving antennas of the cell phone and the car’s antenna via an amplifier.
A new feature of the Audi phone box is wireless charging based on what is known as the Qi standard, which is already possible in the new Q7. Electricity is transferred by induction from a coil at the bottom of the Audi phone box to a receiver coil that can be integrated in the smartphone, in a retrofittable film or the phone cover. The phone remains fully usable throughout the charging process.
Extremely flexible: the Audi tablet
A highly advanced and flexible rear seat entertainment and in-car entertainment system is available in the new Audi Q7. For the Chinese market, the software package by venture partner Baidu is equipped with its web browser and an app store. Today, Audi is already working on the next generation, which can also be operated by gesture control.
The Audi tablet has a high-resolution 10.1-inch monitor (1,920 x 1,200 pixels), is networked with MMI navigation plus via Wi-Fi, which gives it access to Radio, Media and Navigation and Car menu functions. This lets rear passengers send a planned route to the driver; conversely, the driver can start a radio or media program for them from MMI navigation plus. The sound is output via the car’s sound system or via headphones. The Audi tablet can store on-board computer and service data, so that this data can also be read outside of the car.
Fast and powerful: the Tegra 40 processor
The Audi tablet, which runs on the Android operating system, uses an extremely high-performance Tegra 40 processor from Nvidia. Its 32 GB of internal memory can be expanded with a micro-SD card. The device supports NFC (Near Field Communication) technology for transmitting smartphone data by proximity to the device.
Internet access is initiated by clicking the Apps button in the start menu. The integrated full-HD camera can be used to make a video call. After the drive, the user can take the Audi tablet from the car and continue to use it offline or connect it to a Wi-Fi network. This would allow the user to watch the rest of a movie that was started in the car, for instance.
The Audi tablet’s battery was designed for automotive use. It can handle very high and very low temperatures and a broad range of relative humidity without any problems. The swiveling bracket on the back of the front seat is safe in a crash. The tablet’s frame, which is milled from solid aluminum, visualizes the sophisticated character of the Audi tablet, which is available either individually or as a set of two.
Another highlight is the new gesture control for the Audi tablet – it lets users sit back comfortably while operating the tablet. Joy of use is the primary objective of its conceptual design.
Specific: navigation for China
The navigation systems that Audi offers in China in cooperation with its partner Aisin are specially adapted to the often complex road routes in Chinese cities. A central theme is the third dimension of the roads that are built above one another on multiple levels. Viewed from above, a person only sees one line route, but there are actually separate routes. Multi-story ramps further complicate the task.
Such situations can hardly be handled with classic GPS signals. Therefore, Audi is implementing extremely sensitive sensors that can detect a height difference of three centimeters (1.2 in) and make appropriate corrections based on this. Even in tunnels or other areas with either poor-quality GPS signals or none at all, the car continues to precisely calculate its position based on wheel movement, steering wheel inputs and turning direction. Another challenge is that adjacent driving lanes which are often very close to one another may belong to different routes.
Precise input of navigation destinations is very complex in China, because classic addresses are difficult to determine in the densely built districts of large cities and are not very precise either. That is why so-called points of interest (POI) are covered much more extensively in the MMI system for the Chinese market than in systems for western countries. Along with public places and fuel stations, shopping locations of all types are covered and finely differentiated as POIs, such as the categories cosmetics and jewelry shops.
The coverage of restaurants is also highly differentiated. Along with western and fast food, Audi navigation can also come up with recommendations for 13 different types of Chinese cuisine, from Guangdong to Dongbei and Hot Pot. The Audi navigation map for China recognizes over ten million such points of interest. Along with points of interest that are stored in the system and regularly updated, POIs can also be searched online.
Sound with an extra dimension: 3D sound
An especially attractive innovation in the new Q7 is 3D sound – which is implemented in the Bose Sound System and in the B&O Advanced Sound System. Both systems play music in a new type of format. Additional loudspeakers in the A pillars generate the spatial dimension of height. With this new technology, which is currently making its way into movie theaters and living rooms, Audi is implementing an entirely new sound experience in the car.
A sophisticated algorithm takes the data from conventional stereo or 5.1 recordings to calculate the information for the third dimension and prepares it for the tweeters. While algorithms developed in-house are used in the Bose Sound System, the B&O Advanced Sound System utilizes technologies from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS). The system by the Danish hi-fi specialists has an amplifier output power of 1,920 watts and plays music over 23 loudspeakers, including the subwoofer, transforming the car’s interior into a large acoustic stage.
New collaborative project: Baidu CarLife
Audi has signed a new partnership agreement with the web services company Baidu, and in the future it will be introducing Baidu CarLife into its automobiles. This is a smartphone integration that will be exclusively available in China along with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms. When the customer connects a suitable smartphone to the USB port, the relevant environment opens on the display of the Audi smartphone interface. It enables convenient and safe operation of smartphone functions and numerous Baidu apps.
In offering Baidu CarLife, Audi is the first premium car brand to integrate smartphone contents and applications with an easy and secure operating philosophy. Moreover, the two parties have agreed to work together in a number of other areas. They include specific Baidu navigation services in China and the use of send-to-car functions – in which destination data is sent to the car from the Baidu Map app. In addition, the partners want to work together to create highly precise map data and positioning algorithms that can be used as a basis for piloted driving.
The modular infotainment platform
In 2011, Audi introduced the modular infotainment platform (MIB) into production, and the second generation followed in 2014 – even more powerful, versatile and appealing. The second generation MIB is already serving as the driving force of the top MMI navigation plus infotainment system in the new TT model series, the new Q7 and R8 – as well as the A6 and A7 Sportback model series that have been thoroughly updated.
The central MIB computer combines two main units: the radio car control unit and the MMX board (MMX = Multi-Media eXtension). Along with its working and flash memory, it integrates a super-fast Tegra processor from Audi partner Nvidia – which processes all online, media, voice control, navigation and phone features. With a clock speed of over 1 GHz and a fast graphics card, the Tegra 3 series quad-core chip can drive two displays and perform eight billion operations per second. The Tegra 30 processor interacts with a 3D graphics program from the specialist Rightware which generates complex, animated renderings.
The MMX board was conceptualized as a plug-in module that allows Audi to integrate the latest solutions from consumer electronics in the automobile, even those appearing shortly before production. The brand with the four rings is working closely with leading companies in this area. Along with Nvidia, Qualcomm is another one – this specialist supplies the LTE module for fast internet connections in Europe and the USA.
New LTE joint venture with Huawei and China Mobile
Audi is responding to market-specific requirements of the Asian market. In the future, Huawei Technologies Co. will supply the LTE module for Asia. It was designed for the two standards that exist in China, Japan and Korea: FDD-LTE (FDD = Frequency Division Duplexing) and TDD-LTE (Time Division Duplexing). Huawei brings its experience as a leading telecommunications equipment provider and its knowledge of the market to the partnership. The module also supports the LTE wireless standard of China Mobile that was redefined in 2013. This makes Audi the first premium automaker to offer a fully integrated LTE solution in China.
The LTE module enables download speeds of up to 100 MBit/s and maximum upload speeds of 50 MBit/s – this makes response times very quick. Users have the ability to run several apps simultaneously on their mobile end devices. For example, one passenger might participate in a video conference while another watches a movie. The driver also benefits greatly from LTE technology – it streams Audi connect services into the car at high speed, even if they require large amounts of data.
Full integration of LTE enables further extension of the Audi connect product in China. Over the mid-term, it will also enable new Car-to-X services such as wireless fee payment at parking structure gates and information sharing with traffic light systems.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.