Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America wants to put in-home wireless networks on wheels with FLEXConnect, an information and entertainment audio-video bridging system.
The system includes 10-inch, 720-pixel screens for the front and rear passengers as well as a tablet remote control system. Passengers can share media including videos, games and photos from screen to screen. FLEXConnect is linked to the vehicle’s Ethernet network and supports Wi-Fi connectivity for multiple devices.
The front passenger can control content on the rear screens. Rear passengers can also be monitored from the front seat via cameras installed above each rear seat screen.
Mitsubishi Electric, a Tier 1 supplier in Mason, Ohio, hopes the technology will be used in 2018 model vehicles, but has not yet signed any agreements with automakers for FLEXConnect, Doug Ray, a Mitsubishi Electric audio, video and communications director, told reporters Monday.
Mark Rakoski, an executive sales director at Mitsubishi Electric, said navigation and audio systems account for 38 percent of the supplier’s U.S. product sales. He said the company supplies all back-seat infotainment electronics for Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.
“To keep pace with the consumer electronics market, infotainment system flexibility is crucial,” said Gareth Williams, Mitsubishi Electric’s strategic technologies manager for audio, video and communications, in a statement.
Mitsubishi Electric hopes to improve the cameras to include facial recognition technology to allow for personalized media preferences, contact lists and device defaults. The supplier also hopes to integrate real-time traffic and navigation alerts for the front passenger to avoid distracting the driver.
Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America ranks No. 100 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 suppliers to North America, with an estimated $438 million in parts sales to automakers in fiscal 2013.
Mitsubishi Electric partnered with other companies -- such as Apple, Google and Garmin -- to develop FLEXConnect.
“Maybe different from a few years ago -- back then it was possible that we could make a system by ourselves and we could sell it, but those days are gone,” Ray said. “We need help and support from a number of partners. … Mitsubishi is happily engaged with these [partners] to create a successful system.”