A PC in your car, courtesy iWave

Travelling has become a harrowing experience for many because of the traffic snarls, which have become synonymous with the cities. In this scenario, having an entertainment system on board can bring some relief to the passengers, but how about having a PC right inside the car? The 'Car PC' was designed by iWave by using a motherboard developed with Qseven form factor technology on an Intel Atom eMenlow platform. "The motherboard used in the 'Car PC' measuring 70mm x 70mm is the smallest motherboard size," says Mohammed Saliya, Managing Director and Founder of iWave. This 'Car PC' can be embedded into the headrest behind the driver's seat.

Saliya worked in the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for 11 years and had undertaken several R&D work as a Scientist developing real-time software for various Indian spacecrafts. After his stint with ISRO, Saliya joined Philips Semiconductor and headed its Embedded Systems Group for three years. In 1999, Saliya ventured into entrepreneurship by starting iWave.

According to Saliya, only a few companies in the world like Congatec, Portwell, Seco and iWave make use of the Qseven technology. The size of the PC makes it easy for car manufacturers and those providing cab services to incorporate seamlessly into the vehicle, without any alteration to the design. The PC runs at 1.1 or 1.6 GHz speed using sub 10 watts of power, one sixth of the power required to run normal PCs.

With two USB ports on the driver's side, it is also possible for passengers to use 3-G wireless broadband to stay connected. "People have problems using laptops since they are concerned about its battery life," Saliya said. "Since the Car PC uses minimum power drawn from the car battery, they can be assured of connectivity until they reach their destination."

The company is currently in talks with couple of OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) and hopes to make the 'Car PC' available at the car accessories stores by the second quarter of 2010. The company estimates that around 10 percent of the cars in Indian will use the 'Car PC'. The company believes that the product will get good response especially in developing countries. "This product is specifically designed for markets like India, Latin America, China and Africa and we look forward to target the cab agencies in these places," says Saliya. The price tag for the 'Car PC' will be decided once the OEM is selected.

The design team of 'Car PC' in Bangalore, which comprised of 10 designers, was led by Immanuel R. Developing the small size of the motherboard was a challenge the team of designers faced. "Heat management was another challenge," said Immanuel, Project Leader. Immanuel is a Master's degree holder in Micro Electronics from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum and he had secured the first rank in the university. Immanuel joined iWave in 2003 and during his seven years in the company, he has played a crucial role in many embedded hardware designs. Because of his fluency in Japanese, Immanuel has helped iWave to work on some complex projects for their Japanese customers.

With 30-35 percent of its revenue coming from the Japanese market, the company has a subsidiary there called iWave Japan located at Yokohama. Out of the 135 people employed by iWave in Bangalore and Yokohama, 25-30 work specifically for the Japanese market. iWave has also delivered a 64-bit processor based hardware with associated platform software for railway signaling and air traffic control applications for a Japanese customer. The company has reversed the trend of exporting electronic systems from India to Japan for applications.

Product Development Services

Developing innovative products is nothing new to iWave, in 2006 the company joined hands with Freescale Semiconductors to design a videophone. "The videophone, was a very innovative product designed by us and will be in the market by the first quarter of 2010," said Saliya. iWave as a product design house has many product customers to transform the designs into products. The revenue model followed by iWave makes it an ideal choice for any type of customer. iWave has a fixed cost model, wherein the amount, manpower and duration are fixed before the project is started. When only the R&D support is required the customer, it is paid according to the work completed in a given period of time. The third channel of revenue stream is from the royalty that is charged by iWave to companies that use iWave's designs.

So the next time you are wondering what to do while waiting for the traffic on the road to move, it's time to switch on the 'Car PC' from iWave and start browsing through your mails and stay updated.

Mohamed Saliya

Studied "Microprocessor Based Systems Design" from Anna University. Worked at ISRO where he was responsible for development and management of mission critical Real-time systems software for various Satellites Missions such as IRS, INSAT and SROSS series of satellites of ISRO. Also worked at Philips Semiconductors.

Management Team

A PC in your car, courtesy iWave