LAS VEGAS -- We've seen Garmin GPS devices on the dashboard. We've seen Garmin navigation in the dashboard as part of Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system. And with the unveiling of Garmin's K2 infotainment platform at CES 2013, we get a peek at what happens when Garmin takes over the whole dashboard.
Obviously, this new system will be powered by and showcase Garmin's maps and routing algorithms. However, the K2 platform also combines a number of dashboard technologies ranging beyond navigation into what Garmin hopes will be a more cohesive in-car experience.
At the center of the dashboard is a large 10-inch multi-touch display that outputs driver-relevant information when the vehicle is in motion, such as maps or audio source, but can also display calendar, social media, or web data when the vehicle is parked and potential distraction is not an issue. However, it could be argued that the true main screen for the K2 interface is the 12-inch screen that serves as the vehicle's instrument cluster, displaying virtual gauges, navigation information, audio source, and phone notifications closer to the driver's sight-line.
When Bluetooth-paired with a smartphone, K2 will have notifications for incoming calls, SMS, and emails piped into its virtual dashboard by a bridge app installed on the phone, but Garmin tells us that users will not be able to read these incoming text messages on the screen for safety reasons. Rather, users will interact with notifications on this screen primarily via voice command. Speak a command and K2 will read the message to you. Speak again to respond. Voice commands will also play a role in the driver's interactions with weather and traffic data updates, navigation to calendar events, getting driving directions to friends who've posted social media updates, and searching for points of interest for navigation.
Garmin K2 platform takes over the dashboard
The K2 platform also makes use of infrared buttons below the center screen and on its steering wheel that are similar to those on last year's Garmin IR infotainment controller concept to give the driver visual feedback before a button is pressed. So, for example, a user will be able to hover a finger over a radio preset to see the station name before committing to a button tap.
Beneath the surface, the K2 concept dashboard is powered by the Jacinto 5-Eco processor and the OMAP 5 platform from Texas ?Instruments. Garmin claims its system is powerful enough to drive multiple screens if a manufacturer wanted to adapt K2 to also run a rear seat entertainment system. Garmin needs this concept platform to be adaptable if it wants an automaker to adopt its technologies for future cars, so it has also built the K2 software on a flexible HTML5 base.
No plans have been announced to bring the K2 platform into a production car--it's that new. However, Garmin is been showing the technology off to OEMs at CES 2013 and is actively courting partnerships. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.