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AUTOMOTIVE NEWS EUROPE
Harman COO explains how
computing platforms can
help lower costs for automakers
nfotainment specialist Harman, a division of Samsung, is positioning itself
to automakers as a provider of "experiences" through connected technology,
and it has recently won a major contract
to supply the technology for BMW's first
5G-connected car, the iNext SUV. COO
Michael Mauser -- who will take over as
CEO on April 1 -- spoke with Automotive
News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs
at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas about how Harman is making the
connected car more cost efficient.
What are automakers seeking in the
dashboard of the future?
They are looking for experiences. The
role of the dashboard has been changing
quite dramatically. When I started with
Harman 22 years ago, there was no interaction, no connectivity. The second you
bought the system, it was already obsolete. Customers now have expectations
taken from their smartphone experience.
That's the reason we have seen the revolution to a fully connected digital cockpit.
What can connectivity bring?
With connectivity comes personalization.
Consumers want to personalize their experience in the car such as the lighting or
the music. But that is not the end. It will
become intelligent, which means providing the services even without asking you.
Knowing where you are and then delivering location-based services, for example.
How can automakers deliver this in a
There are many, many ECUs [electronic
control units] but in many cases they
are redundant. You have an ECU for the
amplifier, another for the external amplifier, for rear seat entertainment, for the
instrument cluster. But chip processing
power is so high now that you can create a computing platform to control all
of these separate features. We can cut
costs by integrating these functions.
What's driving this change?
The consumer. They will pick the car that
offers the best user experience. When I
bought a car, horsepower and rpm performance were very, very important. But
consumers are expecting more from
a car than just horsepower. They want
to have an experience. So the business
model very likely will change dramatically. Over the lifetime of the car, you are
upgrading it with new features.
That sounds costly for the automaker.
For me, the solution is clearly not in hardware. Of course, the hardware has to have
the right architecture to support these
future updates, but we are turning away
from a device-centric approach to a content and application services approach.
The more processing and content provision we can do out of the cloud the better. The limitations before were hardware
limitations. Take a BMW 5 series. For each
new generation there were significant
hardware changes. They were never backward compatible. So the trend is toward
reducing the hardware content and having
all the processing in the cloud.
And you offer that cloud service?
We have Ignite, our automotive cloud
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