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Curious About the Future of the Dashboard? Look to Switzerland

2018 Geneva Motor Show gave a glimpse into OTA radio's place in the car of the future

GENEVA — The 2018 Geneva Motor Show has come and gone, and it provided a good opportunity to see how vehicle OEMs are treating over-the-air radio in the dashboard.

“Radio listening remains strong in cars, but the broadcast industry needs to consider cars as important a platform for digital growth as mobile apps and connected home devices have been in the past, get in the driver’s seat and make sure its services remain visible and attractive propositions,” according to the EBU.

Interestingly, there is a new requirement—called the eCall initiative–for all new cars sold in the EU from April onwards to have at least minimal connectivity for recovery and safety reasons, and it is likely that the OEMs see a new business in becoming service providers for media, according to the same article.

[Read about a new aftermarket head unit from JVC Kenwood featuring NextRadio.]

Options for reaching listeners in cars are now wider than ever; models with only FM/AM connectivity are in the minority, and DAB/DAB+ receivers are standard equipment (or at least as an accessory) across the majority of brands. Touchscreens often completely replace hard buttons, making the dashboard entertainment system look more like a tablet. Many vehicles also include Android Automotive or Apple CarPlay support, meaning that your phone could be used to entirely control the interface.

Some short videos showing examples taken from the floor of the show are: the Skoda; the Toyota; the Ford; and the Citroen.

“The dashboard is changing faster than ever. The outlook for radio services is that they still form part of that, but perhaps not as the default audio option. A number of initiatives are seeking to improve this, from the , , and others. Broadcaster-created connected car apps that can respond to voice control may provide a means of prominence for certain key brands, but means of discovering others could suffer,” according to the EBU. “One thing is for certain — what happens to radio in the car during the next few years will be crucial.”