Parrot showed at CES the “Simple Box,” which won a 2016 CES Innovation Award.
The box is part a budding trend of separating the radio from its screen. We’ve seen it in powersports radios with Bluetooth streaming players that work with a smartphone. And we’ve seen it in Alpine’s truck-specific radio.
But Parrot is taking the concept a step further. It showed at CES an OEM radio without a traditional screen that can connect to the driver’s tablet or smartphone. And while it is intended for OEM use, the Simple Box is also under consideration for the aftermarket, said Parrot’s Aurelien Chabot at CES.
We believe other suppliers in addition to Alpine are examining the concept of separating the car radio from the screen. One leading supplier told us “everyone is investigating that type of form.”
The Simple Box includes an audio amplifier, an interface, USB ports, radio, CAN bus interface, Bluetooth, microphone and line in. But to ensure that the radio keeps up with the times, it can work with the user’s tablet or smartphone instead of a screen.
The user interface shows up on the separate tablet, just as it would on the radio screen. You can switch modes, play music, control volume up/down, navigation, and Internet radio. You can take a call, and control the cars’ temperature as you would on an advanced radio.
“The Simple Box provides a means to further enhance the in-vehicle mounted CE device. Using Bluetooth, the device can quickly connect, access and control the infotainment features of the vehicle,” it said.
By relying on the user’s own tablet/phone, development time for car makers is reduced. The radio “can be built in six months instead of two years,” said Chabot.
A Parrot press statement said, “Year to year, the vehicle is now equipped with the latest consumer device. With the automotive middleware already equipped in the vehicle through the Simple Box, this provides for an economical way of rethinking how to equip and sustain an evolving IVI user experience.”
The Simple Box may include a 3G or 4G modem or CarPlay or Android. It runs on Linux and can also support WiFi, Bluetooth and voice control by Nuance.