Continental brings motorcycles online: At the EICMA 2022 motorcycle trade fair, which takes place in Milan from November 8-13, the technology company will present its solution for always-on connectivity of motorcycles to a broad public for the first time (Hall 9, Booth M60). The Connected Infotainment Box enables the use of digital services such as turn-by-turn navigation and stolen vehicle tracking, even without a connection to a smartphone.
“Our discussions with manufacturers have confirmed the importance of a future-proof connectivity solution for motorcycles,” says Harry Krickl, Director of Sales, Motorcycles and Off-Highway in Continental’s Commercial and Special Vehicles business segment. “We’re well on the way to closing the gap between motorcycles and the internet without having to depend on smartphones. This is the first step towards ensuring that motorcycles are ‘always-on’, that mobility on two wheels becomes really smart, and safety and ride comfort are noticeably increased.”
Direct connection of the vehicle with the internet is standard in new luxury and midrange passenger cars. This allows drivers to use the vehicle manufacturer’s connectivity services without having to use their cell phones, so they can go online faster and save the data volume and battery life of their smartphones. For motorcyclists, direct connections between the bike and the online world – and the resulting possibilities – are not yet available. However, thanks to Continental’s initiative, the topic of online connection on two wheels is now on the move. The technology company has designed a complex combination of different hardware components. This design ensures the connection to a cloud backend so that a motorcycle can also accommodate the telematics module. Adapting this innovation for individual bike classes will require much less effort, thanks to Continental’s typical platform approach. “We’re convinced that we’re not just making an offer for high-end bikes – all bike riders will benefit from our always-on solution,” says Harry Krickl.
From Continental’s point of view, the closing of this technology gap should also lead to a significant increase in digital services for motorcycles. “In the future, it will be more attractive for manufacturers to offer their customers value-added services because the direct connection gives them more planning security during development,” explains Krickl. “That’s why more connected services and infotainment applications can supplement the basic service offering of the platform at the manufacturer’s request. Motorcyclists also expect increased comfort on their machines and a similar user experience to what they have in their cars.” The combination of fully networked and extremely compact hardware, high-performance software, and a powerful cloud backend, provided by Continental or the bike manufacturer, now offers a gilt-edged chance to meet these expectations. Direct, smartphone-independent rider-to-rider communication and over-the-air updates will become an integral part of the Connected Infotainment Box. Optional features such as stolen vehicle tracking will also be available. Thanks to stolen vehicle tracking, the motorcycle sends a message when it is moved away from its location without the engine starting up. Continental can license these optional features to manufacturers. For example, the platform could also host the eCall function (Emergency Call) for more safety on the motorcycle. “The Connected Infotainment Box could make this technically possible today without any problems because connectivity is available at all times,” explains Patric Zimmermann, the Product Manager responsible for motorcycle connectivity at Continental.
This complex setup can offer several advantages. Active connection to a smartphone would be necessary for usage scenarios such as turn-by-turn navigation, and the system would go very easy on the smartphone’s battery and data capacity. Only the services such as telephony and messenger services usually connected to a mobile phone number would have to be powered by the smartphone’s Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and displayed on the instrument cluster via the Connected Infotainment Box. Yet another benefit? The platform’s operating system and important security and function updates can be installed directly and remotely via the built-in wireless interfaces. If requested, this OTA update function of the Connected Infotainment Box can also be used by manufacturers to update other control units in the vehicle. When it comes to cybersecurity, Continental benefits from its broad positioning as a supplier for all vehicle classes and can integrate the expertise of its subsidiaries, Elektrobit and Argus Cybersecurity.