Weekly Brief: Samsung grabs Harman in bet on connected cars

A global smartphone recall has Samsung on the ropes. Can the connected car bring it back? Andrew Tolve reports.

It's been a rough few months for Samsung. In September the Korean electronics giant issued a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone owing to reports of spontaneous combustion while charging. Several weeks later replacement phones started catching fire as well. The phone was terminated, the company lost some $20Bn (£16Bn) in stock value overnight and some wondered how the company would ever pull itself up off the mat.

By betting on the connected car, for one. Last week it shelled out approximately $8Bn for Harman, a market leader in connected car solutions. Harman has more than 30M vehicles currently equipped with its connected car and audio systems, including embedded infotainment, telematics, connected safety and security. It gives the company instant access to one of the mobile industry's hottest sectors and creates synergies, Samsung believes, with its expertise in consumer electronics, semiconductors, user experience and displays. Upon closing, Harman will operate as a standalone Samsung subsidiary and will retain its existing workforce, headquarters and facilities.

In other news, Intel announced a $250M investment to make autonomous driving a reality. The chipmaker is focusing specifically on how to optimise the deluge of data that will spill from autonomous cars outfitted with sensors, sonar, LiDAR and cameras — more than 4,000 GB of data from each car each day. Intel made the announcement during a keynote at AutoMobility LA 2016, the press event leading up to the LA Auto Show.

RideCell launched a new ridesharing and car-sharing platform at the LA Auto Show that makes it a breeze for any carmaker to jump on the ridesharing bandwagon. All carmakers need to do is supply the cars and RideCell takes care of the rest, fromon-boarding new riders to checking IDs to driver-rider matching, ride scheduling and payment processing. RideCell is already powering BMW's ReachNow service.

Remember those giant pink moustaches that Lyft drivers used to pin to their grills in Lyft's early days? Lyft has revived them as Amp, a new in-car connected device that sits on top of the dashboard and emits a light through the windshield. By matching the device's colour to that displayed in-app on the passenger's phone, drivers and passengers can easily identify one another at pickup. Amp will hit the road New Year's Eve in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City and then roll out to all of Lyft’s 200-plus markets by mid-year 2017.

Experts expect vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication to go mainstream around 2025. Israeli start-up Nexar jumped the gun and launched its V2V network last week, although it’s not really vehicles talking to vehicles, rather smartphones talking to smartphones. The Nexar app uses the camera, accelerometer and gyroscope on each phone in its network to track harsh braking in relation to other cars in time and space. It then uses that information to alert nearby cars in its network to crashes and other road hazards ahead. The app is free and works best in New York City and San Francisco.

Hyundai drivers can now unlock and lock their cars using voice commands from the comfort of their couch. They can also remote start their engines and control the charging of their cars if they own a Hyundai IONIQ Electric. It's all thanks to an industry-first integration of Hyundai Blue Link with Amazon Echo, Amazon’s voice assistant. Let the smart home drag race begin.

Finally, Volvo wants to bring the service station (or the car wash or mechanic) to you. The company is experimenting with a new Volvo On Call app that lets owners select whatever services they would like, such as a tune up, a fuel top up or a wash. Nearby Volvo service providers receive the request and a one-time digital key so that they can execute the service on the owner’s behalf. They then return the car to the same or a different specified location. The app is presently rolling out as part of a pilot in San Francisco for XC90 and S90 owners.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top auto technews, combining TU-Automotiveanalysis with information from industry press releases.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *