Garmin K2 indash infotainment system brings a hint of glass cockpit to the road

Many pilots would agree that Garmin's aviation products are some of the most desirable solutions in the sky. Multiple flight displays and advanced avionics offer the ultimate glass cockpit experience, even in a single-engine Cessna. Now, the company is hoping to bring some of that functionality and style to ground-based vehicles, with the K2 in-dash infotainment system. We saw some early hints of this impressive rig over at our sister site Autoblog during least year's CES, but Garmin is finally ready to drop the curtain officially, sharing the very first render and plenty of details to boot.

At the system's core is a 10-inch touchscreen, with a customizable 12-inch instrument panel positioned just behind the steering wheel. That second display is where you'll find all the essential gauges, but it also provides navigation, vehicle info, along with communications, including text messages and email, and more info on whatever music you're currently playing. K2 is powered by a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor with the ability to feed content to multiple screens, including some for passengers in the back. There's onboard 3D navigation and plenty of realtime info, including gas prices, traffic and weather forecasts. Of course, the system connects to your smartphone over Bluetooth, providing access to data, media, and the like. There's also a heavy helping of voice control.

Now, while all that sounds fairly par for the course, Garmin reps seem to be very excited about K2, and based on the company's track record in the aviation sector, we're more than a little curious ourselves. Fortunately, we're told to expect some hands-on time at the show, and while we haven't seen anything beyond the render above just yet, we should have plenty more to report in the days to come. Until then, feel free to drive past the break and take a gander at the PR.

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Garmin® Next-Generation Infotainment System Turns Car Dashboard Into Digital Cockpit

OLATHE, Kan./January 7, 2013/Business Wire - Garmin® International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today unveiled their K2 platform, the company's next-generation automotive infotainment solution, at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Inspired by Garmin's avionics and marine technology, K2 turns the car dashboard into a digital cockpit that provides drivers a safe and intuitive way to stay connected and access all the functions they need while on the road. The system intelligently combines digital displays, voice control, infrared buttons and smartphone integration to provide drivers access to everything from navigation to vehicle diagnostics, office features, communications, music and radio to real-time information from the Web.

"Our K2 infotainment platform provides drivers an elegant glass cockpit that functions as their digital hub. It allows them to control driving-related functions as well as aspects of their digital life in an intuitive and seamless way that minimizes driver distraction," said Matt Munn, Garmin managing director automotive OEM. "Garmin's experience in user interface design and hardware integration was paramount when developing K2. We already provide fully-integrated digital cockpits for aviation and marine OEMs, so providing a similar level of safety and integration for cars is a logical next step for us."

The innovative K2 platform has been designed and developed by Garmin's automotive OEM group and is a fully customizable and scalable solution to meet the diverse needs of any car manufacturer. Garmin will offer individual in-vehicle demonstrations to selected industry members and the press in a private meeting room at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Key features of Garmin's K2 infotainment platform include:

Glass Cockpit with Advanced Voice Control

Garmin K2 features a 10-inch glove-friendly multi-touch screen at the center of the dash and a digital and reconfigurable 12- inch instrument panel behind the steering wheel. In addition to the standard gauges, the instrument panel provides the driver notifications and snapshots of information, such as navigation, communications, audio and vehicle information. This allows drivers to access crucial information at a glance while keeping their eyes on the road. If the driver sees an incoming text message or email, for example, he can ask the system to read the message and respond via voice. Garmin's advanced voice controls allow the user to interact with K2 using natural and conversational language to get weather or traffic information, check their calendar or search for addresses or points of interest. Crucial functions can also be accessed using configurable infrared buttons that automatically detect an approaching hand.

The multi-touch infotainment screen at the center of the dash only shows driver-relevant information, such as navigation, music and weather, while driving to reduce distractions, but it presents a more comprehensive overview when standing still, including a messaging center and calendar. Garmin also has plans for safety sensors that could allow the front seat passenger to access a more comprehensive feature set on the center screen, such as social media and Web functionalities, while ensuring that the driver is prevented from using potentially distracting functions.

The K2 Platform is powered by the Jacinto 5-Eco processor and the OMAP 5TM platform from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), which sports a dual-core ARM® CortexTM-A15 foundation and multiple accelerators for high-performance, multimedia-rich infotainment features. Among other benefits, this setup is capable of driving multiple screens with high-resolution 3D graphics, which allows car manufactures to integrate infotainment options for backseat passengers. The K2 user interface is developed in HTML5, making it easy to customize for particular OEM brands.

3D Navigation and Location Services

The driving experience itself is defined by mobility, so navigation, maps and location services are at the center of Garmin's K2 infotainment platform. The system features onboard 3D navigation with city models that show realistic and beautifully rendered 3D representations of buildings for better orientation. The system is capable of integrating real-time information, such as fuel prices, parking, traffic, tracking, weather forecasts and images from traffic cameras. It warns users when they're running low on gas and automatically finds gas stations on the driver's route. Users can also create to do or reminder lists and the system can remind them at the right time based on location. For example, if the driver has a list of things to pick up at a home improvement store, it could remind him of that next time he is in the area. To even further take some of the cognitive load off the driver, Garmin is developing additional features that automatically draw conclusions from accessible information. Through the combination of calendar and navigation functions, for example, the system would know if the driver is running late due to traffic, so it could automatically ask if the driver wants to contact the parties of upcoming meetings and inform them about the delay.

Smartphone Integration and Web Portal

Garmin K2 integrates important smartphone functionalities through a bridge app that connects the smartphone to the dashboard system via Bluetooth® technology. Through this app, the system has access to the user's email, calendar, text messages and other features and can present this information on a customized interface and in a driver-friendly way. The bridge app can also be used to integrate any type of information or functionalities from third-party apps that the user already uses on his smartphone, such as radio, music or other content. Instead of simply mirroring smartphone apps onto the in-dash display, Garmin's system allows for the development of customized interfaces and integration into the system to provide a seamless and safe experience.

Garmin's K2 system can be fully customized using a Web portal. This provides users access to all the settings and functions of the system from their home computer. User can, for example, decide what music or radio station to play at certain days and times, create to do lists or plan trips
Garmin's automotive OEM group utilizes the company's long-standing experience in interface and hardware design from its automotive, avionics and marine segments to develop innovative in-car navigation, telematics and infotainment systems. Garmin already provides integrated cockpits to the aviation industry and is dedicated to bring a similar level of technology, integration, safety, reliability, and efficiency to the automotive market. Garmin's broad range of in-vehicle electronics for the automotive industry includes infotainment and telematics systems, navigation software, location-based services, and integrated portable navigation systems. Garmin has dedicated automotive OEM offices in the United States, Germany, China and Japan. The company has agreements with leading brands in the automotive sector such as BMW, Chrysler, Honda, Kenwood, Panasonic, Suzuki and Toyota, among others.