They are some invention that had changed the lifestyle of the individual forever. What started as a simple and innovative design had become the most wanted thing in our lives. The handphone for an example had evolved from a portable communication device that replaces the landline to a smartphone that basically can do anything. In the present, any information that was needed is available in the fingertip with a touch of the button in the smartphone thanks to the continuous improvement and innovation from 2 of the popular smartphone operating system Android by Google and IOS by Apple.

Similarly, the only entertainment while we are driving our car the car audio or presently better known as the infotainment system had also evolved. It all started in early 19th centuries thanks to John Ambrose Fleming in 1904 that had created the vacuum tube that had become the base of the electronic device and laid the foundation for the creation of the radio. With this invention of the radio, it had become the source of information during this time and the creation of the radio is coincidental with the popularity of the car hence the automobile manufacturer had decided to fix the radio in the car.


John Ambrose Fleming


But they are one problem. To enable the car radio at the time to receive the radio transmission it must have 50 to 250-volt direct current but the car at that time only capable of receiving 6 volts only. How had they resolved it? The solution is the voltage had been stepped up with a vibrator that provided a pulsating DC that can be converted, rectified and filtered to create high voltage hence the car radio problem had been resolved.

Unlike the current infotainment system, the old car radio was heavy where the 1937 Philips Auto Radio were 24kg and taking up 8 litres of space and were fitted to the floor with a wired remote control unlike now where it was fitted in the centre of the car and it is far lighter compared to the past radio. Although they are some difficulties due to size and space by 1930 it had become a standard feature in the car at that time. In the year 1953 Becker had introduced the AM/ FM checker with a station search or scan function and a Variometer tuner and this had become the base foundation for the current car infotainment in term of the selection for the radio channel.


The entertainment industry had been continually evolving during this time and in 1962 Phillips had released the compact cassette and taking advantage of this new thing Ford and Motorola had introduced the 8-track tape in their car. In the year after the cassette had been improved with a longer play time, better tape quality, auto reverse and Dolby Noise reduction. The cassette is the thing at the time to listen to the audio.

However, the cassette will be destined to become the part of history when in 1982 Sony and Phillips had joint together to make the Compact Disc (CD). 2 years later in 1984 Pioneer had introduced the world first CD player for the car with the introduction of the CDX- 1. With the improvement in the sound quality, instant track skipping, more storage of the track, and giving the flexibility to change up to 10 cd, the CD had gained popularity. However, the compact cassette still had their own fan and some car manufacturer like JVC had created CD/ cassette player to giving the car lovers an option.


A CD/Cassette Player by JVC 


But in 1993 is the thing that totally pushed the compact cassette to page of the history when the MP3 format had been introduced where which this format up to 100 tracks can be stored in the CD and due to this the CD had become the best option for the car lovers to listen to the song as it provides more choice for them in term of selecting and listening to their favourite songs.  Due to this, most of the car audio had been fixed with the capabilities to play the MP3 songs and at the some removing the cassette slot.

In the 20th century more innovation like playing through portable device via Bluetooth, memory card slot, MP3 thumb drive, internet radio, and satellite radio had given the car lovers more option to listen to their favourite songs and this innovation had also pushed the CD to a side although they are still some car audio manufacturer whom still have the CD player slots in their car but it is not necessary like in the past to listen to the song. With the introduction of the car related software like the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirrorlink what is only to listen to the radio, cassette and CD now had been expanded to answering calls, receiving calls, navigation system like Apple Maps, Waze and Google Maps, reverse camera and park pilot, teleservices, concierge service, checking the car engine oil level, setting the alarm system, surfing website, and many more in the present and maybe more to come.

Now the car audio is bigger in size but still lighter and have touchscreen installed and each car manufacturer had a different name for their infotainment system like BMW called it as iDrive, Mercedes-Benz COMMAND, Audi MMI, Ford SYNC, Toyota Entune and much more. The car audio in the present is not only for listening to radio and songs but had been expanded functionality until now it had been called as an infotainment system. With the multi-function steering wheel, the car lovers can change, alter and skip the track or select any option via the car steering wheel and does not control the audio directly anymore.

The creation of the vacuum tube in 1904 had led to the creation of the car radio and with the continuous improvement of the entertainment devices and current smartphone, the car infotainment also had been involved together. With more innovation is expected in the future and more car related app in the future via the Google Android Auto and Apple CarPlay thing will be better in the future and expected more things to be added to the car infotainment system.

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