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Parrot unveils two Android IVI systems

Jan 5, 2015 — by Eric Brown 3,251 views

Parrot tipped two Android IVI boxes: an aftermarket “RNB6” with Android Auto support, and a “SOCA Simple Box” that uses your own Android tablet for display.

Parrot, the French company known for its AR.Drone and BeBop drones, was one of the first companies to deliver an Android-based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system with its aftermarket Asteroid, two years ago. A more recent Asteroid design was used in the McClaren IRIS IVI system for its MP4-12C sports car.

Parrot RNB6 and SOCA Simple Box
(click images to enlarge; RNB6 image source: SlashGear)

The day before the opening of the CES 2015 show in Las Vegas, Parrot has unveiled two new automotive solutions: a 2-din RNB6 IVI computer that runs Android 5.0, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, as well as a SOCA Simple Box, which puts the user’s existing Android tablet or smartphone to work as the display and processing device.

Parrot RNB6


Like the earlier Asteroids, the RNB6 is an after-market solution that technically proficient users can install themselves. (Certified installers will also be available.) Unlike the 5-inch Asteroid Tablet or 3.2-inch Asteroid Mini, the 2-DIN RNB6 system moves up to a 7-inch 720p IPS Pro touchscreen.

RNB6 rear panel, left and right portions
(click image to enlarge)

A Parrot YouTube video farther below shows the integration of 5GHz WiFi, GPS/GLONASS, and a rear camera display. There’s also a digital tuner, a stereo microphone, and a variety of ports including HDMI, USB, Ethernet, and iPod connections. The RNB6 features a 4 x 55-watt audio amplifier and a wide-angle 1080p dash cam with Super HDR technology.

According to Engadget, the car computer runs on a “slightly customized” version of Android 5.0. It can also relinquish control to Android Auto or the somewhat similar Apple CarPlay, letting you control your Android or iOS mobile device via the IVI touchscreen, says the story. This would appear to be one of the first Android Auto compatible car computers.

Android Auto user interface running on the RNB6
(click images to enlarge)

RNB6 applications include media playback, navigation, telephony, connected dash cam, air control, parking assistance, and diagnostics, says Engadget. Some of these are voice controlled, says the story. The Android Auto function includes Google Now support, and the CarPlay mode includes Siri voice applications, says Parrot.

According to a hands-on report from SlashGear, the RNB6 connects with mobile devices via Bluetooth 4.0 while also hooking into a car’s OBD2 diagnostics and telemetry network. As a result, you receive real-time alerts on tire pressure, parking sensors, and other sensor inputs. The RNB6 will ship sometime in 2015 at an undisclosed price, says SlashGear.

Parrot’s RNB6 demo on YouTube

SOCA Simple Box

More on the SOCA Simple Box should emerge later this week, but for now we know that it’s a new headless type of IVI computer for the OEM market. The device connects with existing Android tablets and smartphones, which handle processor and display duty. The SOCA Simple Box, meanwhile, runs automotive middleware that can be updated to integrate with new Android devices over time.

Parrot SOCA Simple Box, front and rear
(click images to enlarge)

The device is intended to avoid the problem of IVI computers becoming obsolete due to using older processors, Android builds, and other components. As Parrot puts it: “The SOCA Simple Box allows the decoupling of Android world and Parrot automotive software.”

The SOCA Simple Box features include telephony, messaging, text to speech, and voice recognition (for music and contacts). The device is said to act as a multi-source media player, featuring USB, iPod. Bluetooth, and Internet 3G/4G connectivity. Acoustic and signal processing for multi-standard radio and TV are also provided.

The automotive middleware includes Parrot automotive libraries, support for worldwide radio and TV reception, and vehicle telemetry information via CAN or Ethernet. There are also various vehicle apps, including “Premium” navigation.

Further information

No pricing or availability information has been posted for the Parrot RNB6 or SOCA Simple Box, but it appears they will ship later this year. More on the RNB6 should eventually appear on the Parrot website. Registered OEM partners can find out more about the SOCA Simple Box at the Parrot OEM page.

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