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QNX takes car instruments into connected future

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QNX Software has announced the latest addition to its portfolio of automotive safety products, the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters.

Digital instrument clusters constitute one of the fastest-growing segments in automotive electronics. Using sophisticated 2D and 3D graphics, these devices can display traditional instrument cluster information, such as speed and RPM, as well as rich, context-sensitive information supplied by other vehicle subsystems, including turn-by-turn directions, local speed limits, rearview camera video and collision warnings. According to Strategy Analytics, the combined demand for hybrid and fully digital instrument clusters will increase from 8.7 million units in 2015 to 42.2 million by 2023.

With deployments in over 60 million cars, QNX has become the leading software supplier for vehicle infotainment systems. Since 2009, QNX technology has also been powering digital instrument clusters in vehicle brands such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, Corvette, Jaguar and Range Rover. The QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters builds on this expertise to help customers create cluster solutions that offer a superior user experience while satisfying stringent safety requirements.

With the new platform, QNX now offers a comprehensive solution for instrument cluster developers, which includes:

·         The QNX OS for Safety, an ISO 26262-certified OS and toolchain that supports all of the automotive safety integrity levels, from ASIL A to ASIL D, required for clusters and other critical vehicle systems

·         A 2D/3D graphics framework that is based on OpenGL and is set to be certified for use in clusters that comply with the ISO 26262 functional safety standard

·         A software framework that protects safety-critical cluster functions from interference by other software components, enabling greater reliability and easier system-level certification

·         A reference implementation, with source code, that gives developers a jumpstart on building fully digital instrument clusters

To pre-qualify the platform’s graphics framework to the ISO 26262 standard, QNX Software Systems is working closely with TÜV Rheinland, a world leader in functional safety assessments.

“We are seeing growing interest in ISO 26262, which has emerged worldwide as a leading standard for automotive functional safety, especially in the software domain,” said Heinz Gall, Head of the Functional Safety & Security Business Unit of TÜV Rheinland. “As a world leader in functional safety assessment, we support automotive companies to help them develop a safety culture and adopt best-in-class safety practices. The QNX Neutrino OS was the first realtime OS we assessed to ISO 26262 ASIL D as a Safety Element out of Context, and we will extend our collaboration with QNX Software Systems into the new domain of graphics software for instrument clusters.”

“QNX OS technology and i.MX applications processors from NXP offer a production-proven combination for digital instrument clusters. We are excited to support the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters with our i.MX 6 series and future i.MX 8 series hardware platforms,” said Ron Martino, Vice President, i.MX Applications Processors and Advanced Technology Adoption, NXP Semiconductors. “Together, our offerings can address the safety-critical requirements of digital clusters, while offering bleeding-edge 3D and 2D graphics that enable unique driving experiences.”

To further accelerate development, the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters will support application design tools from members of the QNX automotive ecosystem, such as Crank Software’s Storyboard Suite, DiSTI Corporation’s GL Studio, Elektrobit’s EB GUIDE, and Rightware’s Kanzi UI software. This rich selection of tools will enable customers to choose the UI technologies and design approaches that best address their project requirements.

“QNX has become an automotive leader by offering comprehensive, one-stop solutions that allow customers to focus on differentiation and time-to-market, rather than on low-level integration efforts,” said John Wall, Senior Vice President and Head of QNX Software Systems. “The new QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters brings this proven approach to the digital cluster market, enabling faster development and helping customers reduce the effort and risk of qualifying their end-products to safety standards such as ISO 26262.”

Availability

The QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters is scheduled to be available to select customers under an early access program, starting in August 2016.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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