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Let’s Play

Text
Annika Jochheim

Photos
Alexander Herold

High-speed internet in the car

Competing in a dynamic online game with other players while on the road? Or even a holding video conference with co-workers while stuck in traffic? With the expansion of the LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile communications standard, high-speed mobile internet is moving tantalizingly close. We take a little look into the very near future.

We would like to offer the customer the same levels of comfort and convenience that he is used to at home or work. In many cases, the Internet in the car will even be much faster than the home or office connection.
Christoph Voigt, Head of Development Telephone

Goodbye – before climbing into his A8, Martin challenges his son to a rematch.

“I’m going to blow you out of the air dad!” Sascha is in his element. Certain of victory, he grips the controller of his games console in his hand and stares at the screen. With one skilful movement, he overtakes his father Martin’s aircraft and arrives first at the power-up field, which provides him with the weapon he needs for victory. In the blink of an eye, his father’s airplane is duly dispatched and all dad can do is smirk. “You knew the route already. You definitely won’t win the next game.” Sascha looks challengingly at his father. “Yeah, right! We’ll soon see about that.” Right at that moment, when he wants to press play, his mother comes into the room and puts an end to the duel. “Your car is here Martin. You have to go now or you’ll miss your flight. And Sascha, we wanted to go shopping anyway.”

A short time later, father and son are standing in front of the house. While Martin gives his suitcase to the driver, he grins conspiratorially at his son. “Log into the network and we can play another round. But this time, you won’t get off so lightly.” A moment later, both are sitting in separate cars. Martin starts the games console connected to the rear-seat entertainment system in the Audi A8. Sascha logs into the network via the WLAN hotspot in the Audi A3 with his Playstation. A few clicks later, and the two are once again standing with their gliders opposite one another on the streets of Nova State City. The race starts again from the beginning.

A complex online game during a car journey – this is very close to being reality. The Audi A8 and the Audi A3 prototype mules are connected to the Internet via the LTE mobile communications standard. The new high-speed standard, which is set to complement the overloaded UMTS network in many countries of the world and offer perfect network coverage, enables data transfer rates of up to 100 megabits per second. This makes it around six times faster than the current mobile communications networks and puts transfer times into the millisecond zone. Large files, like top-quality music or movies can also be exchanged easily via LTE. As a consequence, LTE in the car is a particularly attractive proposition for passengers. They can connect their mobile devices with the WLAN hotspot and use all imaginable internet applications, such as online computer games.

But what does it mean to the driver if his car is equipped with this new high-performance technology? “By connecting the car via LTE, integrated Audi connect services will be even faster, even more usable and even more versatile. Services like Audi music stream or Google Maps Street View will also be able to use the LTE network,” explains Audi engineer Christoph Voigt, Head of Development Telephone. “And the better network coverage of the new mobile communications standard, particularly in rural areas, is of course highly beneficial, especially in the car.” In the near future, Audi customers will be able to deposit their personal music, image or video files on a server in the Internet, the cloud, and then call them up seamlessly onto their preferred device, where they can then play them – while at home or on the road.

Long Term Evolution
With the integration of LTE into the vehicle, driver and passengers benefit from high-speed data transfer while driving – in the city, but especially in the countryside.

1 Convenient connection of up to eight devices *
2 Faster loading of Google Earth images in the navigation map *
3 Rapid call up of weather information *
4 Web radio in the car – without long loading times
5 Easy access to music during the drive
6 Up and download of large presentation files in a matter of milliseconds
7 Access to online movies and photo galleries
8 Unrestricted communication – including in-car video conferencing
9 Social networking while driving – reading and text functions for online
community services *
10 Rapid access to traffic information *
11 Play videos in real time and online
12 Google Street View images in MMI navigation *

* These services are already available in the car.
However, transfer rates will increase significantly with LTE.

So when will the mobile high-speed Internet arrive? In Germany, the LTE infrastructure is already up and running in several major cities and in rural areas in particular – although not yet integrated into a car. Audi is working on soon being the first brand to offer complete integration. This is made possible by the modular infotainment platform (MIB) that celebrated its premiere in the new Audi A3. It is Audi’s answer to the ongoing innovations in consumer electronics and to the rapid increase in computing power required for the integration of new technologies. The new central computer for the MIB is composed of two units – the Radio Car Control and the MMX board (MMX = Multi-Media eXtension). The main elements of the plug-in module include the high-speed T 20 graphic processor from the Tegra 2 series by market leader Nvidia. The chip, which generates the sophisticated 3D images, is involved in all online, voice control, media, navigation and telephone functions. The screen with its high-resolution monitor rises electrically from the dashboard on system start-up.

Martin and Sascha, who are already able to enjoy the high-speed network in Munich, benefit from the opportunities it presents in a fun way. While on the road, the two are able to pit their gliders against each other on the streets of Nova State City and decide the outcome of their battle.

But LTE can do more than that. As Martin loses for a second time, Sascha and his mother arrive at the supermarket and switch off his mobile games console. Martin, on the other hand, opens the online calendar on his tablet computer and checks his appointments for the next day. He notices a couple of gaps and sends one or two short-notice meeting requests via e-mail. Then he quickly uploads a large powerpoint presentation so that his co-workers can see it prior to the upcoming meetings. And he can also discuss his ideas directly with the team via video conference. “This is precisely our objective,” explains Christoph Voigt. “We would like to offer the customer the same levels of comfort and convenience that he is used to at home or work. In many cases, the Internet in the car will even be much faster than the home or office connection.”

With the integration of LTE into future models, Audi is coming one step closer to its objective of the networked automobile. Streaming music, holding a video conference or, like Sascha and Martin, playing an online video game – those are just the first examples of the possibilities the new mobile communications standard is offering inside the car, too.