Technological Development Capability Supporting the Future of People, Cars, and the Environment
The worldwide evolution of the Internet and dependence on smartphones have led to the demand for in-vehicle system capabilities that enhance consumers' mobile lifestyles. With its sights firmly set on the future of the global marketplace, Clarion has developed the “Smart Access” cloud-based information network service for vehicles, which provides people with the added value of connectivity and further enhances the appeal of in-vehicle information solutions. As an “In-Vehicle Information Solution Provider”, we will continue developing a new line-up of in-vehicle devices geared explicitly for the automotive manufacturers and for the Aftermarket.
Development of Services Utilizing Cloud-based Voice Recognition
Voice recognition is an essential technology for in-vehicle device to understand and operate in accordance with the user's spoken instructions. When it comes to implementing voice recognition with a high degree of accuracy, there are two main considerations.
Firstly, suppressing the impact of noise while driving. Clarion has developed a unique noise suppression process that enhances the accuracy of voice recognition. This process is implemented on a cloud-based server, which eliminates the need for it to be built into in-vehicle device, and also means it can be implemented with a wide range of in-vehicle devices.
Secondly, there is the issue of different voices and words being understood. This requires significant knowledge, just as it does with human conversation. Use of the cloud is effective for gathering and analyzing large volumes of data, and utilizing the results as quickly as possible in voice recognition. Here, Clarion makes effective use of the outstanding Google™ Voice Recognition Technology.
Clarion's “Smart Access” integrates Clarion's own unique noise suppression process with Google™ Voice Recognition Technology, providing a unique system for realizing highly accurate cloud-based in-vehicle voice recognition.
In October 2013, Clarion developed an application that enables the user to search for stores or places, by voice, using this system. This has made it even easier for the user to set their destination in their car navigation device.
In the future, we will continue to develop technologies that allow the user to perform various in-car operations by voice, in addition to searching for stores or places, providing new value to users.
Cloud-based In-Vehicle Voice Recognition Service Developed in Partnership with Google™
Voice recognition in car navigation started in the early 1990s, but it failed to take hold as a navigation function. Efforts were made to incorporate voice recognition functionality – which by its very nature demands advanced data processing and algorithms – into car navigation with its limited processing power and memory capacity. Ultimately the limitations in processing capability prevented an improvement in recognition performance, and as a result, voice recognition functionality was hardly used, despite the convenience it was meant to offer. Moving forward to the year 2000, cloud-based voice recognition even started being adopted in consumer devices, and spurred on by its inclusion in smartphones, voice recognition functionality was re-acknowledged as an important human-machine interface (HMI).
As well as the realization of cloud-based voice recognition through our partnership with Google™, the handling of voice processing and especially noise elimination on the cloud – which had previously been implemented by the in-vehicle device – coupled with algorithms, have enabled us to dramatically improve performance. Moreover, we have been able to achieve a drastic improvement in Search performance, a critical element in car navigation, thanks to cloud-based agent functionality and use of vast Google™ cloud-based searches.
Cloud-based voice recognition is undoubtedly set to become increasingly advanced in the future, and there will be dramatic improvements in in-car convenience through the development of dialog-based voice control.
Launch of the World’s First Full-Digital Speaker "01DRIVE"
Clarion has developed and launched the world’s first full-digital speakers, which balance eco-friendliness with premium sound.
Our “01DRIVE” Series full-digital speaker system is a fusion of the digital signal processing technology, “Dnote”*¹ and the in-vehicle audio technologies developed by Clarion over many years. Its full-digital transmission from digital audio source to speaker unit, or “Digital to Digital”, makes it possible to reproduce high-quality digital sound that is virtually indistinguishable from the source. What's more, a significant saving in power consumption is achieved when compared to conventional speakers, with a drive voltage of less than half the conventional level, and around 1/8*² of the power consumption.
Clarion is already marketing the full-digital speaker systems "Z8/Z17F" and "Z17R" for in-vehicle use, the portable full-digital speaker "ZP1", and the home-use embedded full-digital speaker "ZF160". In the future, we intend to further develop exclusive ICs and speaker units providing even higher sound quality and output, while also developing high-resolution audio products surpassing CD sound quality and launching products that employ full-digital speaker technology.
*1 Dnote: A registered trade mark of Trigence Semiconductor. This is a technology which reproduces sound by feeding modulated audio signals directly into multiple speaker units or voice coils.
*2 About 1/8 of the power consumption: Clarion comparison
Development of Original Sound Processing Technology “Intelligent Tune”
In order to achieve ideal sound quality in the acoustically harsh environment of the car interior, Clarion has vigorously pursued the development of its original sound processing technology “Intelligent Tune”. In 2013, Clarion added the new "Virtual Stage Enhancer" function, which generates a realistic, vibrant interior surround space, complementing our existing acoustic functionality.
As well as creating new acoustic functions, we are now developing new smartphone apps that work in conjunction with in-vehicle audio systems to enable users to easily customize the in-car soundscape according to personal preference.
Increasingly Advanced Intelligent Safety Systems Business
Clarion is working to develop “Intelligent Safety” through the application of image processing and image recognition technologies to assist in the parking and driving of cars, with the goal of achieving a safer and more secure automotive society. The main focus of development is the “Overhead View Monitor”, which provides a 360-degree view around the vehicle, and sensing systems to alert the driver of approaching pedestrians and cars. We are also devoting our efforts to enhancing camera products, which are the foundation of "Intelligent Safety". Clarion is working to improve the reliability of "Intelligent Safety" by incorporating accurate and even more diverse image information through technologies including ultra-wide angle lenses for an expanded field of vision, logic development and the application of sensor elements to provide a more natural image in harsh lighting environments, such as at night or when there is strong backlighting.
● Detection of vehicles/pedestrians using the rear camera's image recognition function
Clarion's Overhead View Monitor uses an ultra-wide angle lens, making it possible to display a much wider area than was possible with standard rear cameras. Employing image recognition technology, it detects obstacles approaching from the left or right, assisting the driver when reversing.
● Lane detection using the rear camera's image recognition function
The rear camera can even be used when not driving in reverse. Its image recognition technology detects traffic lanes, and warns the driver when the vehicle veers out of its lane.
● Support for automatic parking
The parking area is recognized and the parking space is determined using image recognition technology. Automatic parking mode is then implemented. The vehicle can also be quickly stopped if a pedestrian or other object is detected during automatic parking. (control system co-developed with Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd.)
● Overhead View Monitor
Our latest Overhead View Monitor not only augments the driver’s field of vision around the vehicle, but also detects obstacles approaching from any direction and sends a warning to the driver, utilizing its integrated image recognition technology.
Innovative UI (User Interface) Revolutionizes In-Vehicle Device, Opening Up a New World
Ensuring safety while increasing driver personalization, and accessing advanced information in real time. The extensive know-how Clarion has built up in the in-vehicle device field, coupled with our fresh perspective that looks beyond conventional wisdom, has allowed us to create a totally new connection between humans and machines. The next generation of in-vehicle information solutions will evolve at an increasingly rapid pace thanks to new kinds of innovative user interface (UI) that open up new worlds of possibility.
“Smart Access” App: In-car top menu
As well as third party apps supporting iPhone® integration, such as TuneIn Radio®Clarion also offers a range of apps developed in-house. These are founded on the know-how Clarion has gained from developing in-vehicle user interfaces that are both safe and secure, (focusing on elements such as the button and font size, well-contrasted color schemes, and intuitive hierarchical structures).
● Development of Smart Access apps for Android™
In-vehicle display screen of the Android™ app "Calendar4car"
*Image for illustrative purposes only
"Calendar4car" app for Android™
Smartphone display screen
In-vehicle display screen of the Android™ app "Weather4car"
*Image for illustrative purposes only.
"Weather4car" app for Android™
Smartphone display screen
NX513 “Smart Access” App: In-car top menu
Following on from iPhone® integration last year, Android™ apps have been developed to make apps available to an even wider range of customers. The user interface (UI) has been designed so as to present a familiar design and feel for Android™ users, while also being a user-friendly app.
Strengthening Development Functions in China Building a Global Development Base
Clarion is expanding its operations in China, which has experienced extraordinary levels of growth compared with other developing nations, and we are also strengthening the development functions at Xiamen Clarion Electrical Enterprise Co., Ltd. (CXEE) in order to build a global development structure.
Following an increase in the number of development personnel over the past two years, CXEE is now focused on upgrading its development environment, strengthening the skills of development personnel, and cultivating staff with world-class skills. Regarding the development environment, in 2013 an Evaluation Center was established to facilitate independent evaluations, and further enhancements have been made including the construction of expert evaluation environments, including an anechoic chamber and audition room.
Based on these measures, Clarion will continue to extend the capabilities of the CXEE Development Center and strengthen its global development functions.