Between the driver’s and passenger seat, there is a lot of fancy and expensive technological kit which serves a multitude of functions, from playing music to providing directions to showing a reverse camera and much more. The modern car infotainment system is a staggering collection of hi-tech assistance and, over the last century, has evolved enormously.
Three generations ago, the introduction of radio to vehicles was seen as a major step forward. In contrast to the sleek, compact IVI systems of today, the first car radios were very clunky and cumbersome. They were also frightfully expensive, retailing for $130 at a time when that was an enormous sum of money.
Into the 1950s, motorists wanted to choose their own music rather than depending on what the radio stations were playing. That led to the advent of in-car record players, but this theoretically sensible venture proved impractical, as the sound quality was badly distorted by vibrations from the road. Eight-tracks and cassette players were better suited to in-car audio, even if the magnetic tape in cassettes did wear out eventually.
The next major advancement came in the 1990s when CD players were introduced to vehicles. Compact discs retained their audio quality and were lighter again than cassettes. Many modern cars still have CD players, but there is inevitably a growing shift towards MP3 players, as soft copy consumption is now the norm.
In keeping with the constant evolution of IVI systems, we are now beginning to see vehicles with their own WiFi network and app integration. Even 10 years ago, these would have been almost unimaginable and, by the same token, it is almost impossible to envisage now what the typical IVI system of 2029 will offer. Checkout android auto and apple carplay apps.
Mark Dressekie is the owner of Woodstock Motors, a family-run car repair and service business in London. He has a huge interest in automotive tech and frequently writes articles related to this topic.