In recent years, auto manufacturers have been scrambling to integrate mobile applications with their vehicle's infotainment platform. Renault decided to cut to the chase and integrate a tablet in the vehicle.
R-Link is a voice-activated telematics platform that controls vehicle functionality and integrates native and smartphone-based social media, entertainment, navigation, and community applications on its 7-inch touch-screen display. When the new system debuts on the Renault ZOE and Clio in 2012, it will already contain 50 applications, and will integrate approved smartphone apps.
Drivers will be able to download new apps directly to the vehicle's tablet from the R-Link Store. To build their library, Renault will launch a startup incubator program in France to encourage developers to build apps specifically for R-Link and the Zoe and Clio. Applications for the incubator project that will launch in March 2012 are due in January, and applications can be found on the City of Paris portal.
No information was provided on the limitations or capabilities of the developer program, but Saab has floated a similar idea with its iQon infotainment platform announcing that developers would access 500 vehicle sensors, if that platform ever sees the light of day. Last year BMW created a venture capital fund to seed mobility and transportation startups. Telsa will also be integrating an Android-based infotainment in its upcoming Model S sedan.
If you want a tablet in your car but aren't planning to import a Renault next year or part with $60,000 to acquire a Model S, aftermarket supplier iRoc is working on a way to mount an iPad on your dash and turn it into a car stereo.