The ultimate road trip: Harman drives the future of automotive
Chairman, President and CEO, HARMAN
When I joined HARMAN in 2007 as CEO, the automotive industry was just starting a transformation, led by a universe of connectivity. Engineers were just starting to realize the power of computing and software, data and analytics to revolutionize driving and the in-vehicle experience. While the automotive industry was always working hard toward new and innovative technologies, few could have predicted how fast connectivity would propel us toward autonomous driving. A strong player in infotainment and audio, HARMAN saw an enormous opportunity to redefine the value a tier one partner could provide to its automotive customers. Determined to define and lead on this trend, HARMAN tranformed its own offerings and organizational structure, from a manufacturing-centered business to a software and services-focused innovator.
Today, HARMAN is at the forefront of automotive technologies, developing groundbreaking products and systems that elevate consumers’ experiences across the car, home, work and everywhere in between. The role of the car in our increasingly connected lifestyle is growing exponentially, with the potential of autonomous driving set to change our lives forever. The industry disruptions and technological advancements have come fast and are unlike anything we have ever witnessed before. It is an exhilarating and awesome new world, for everyone from consumers and automakers to technology start-ups and suppliers. And we have only just begun on this incredible road trip in Automotive. We have come far but we are mapping our own course and paving our own way with both feet on the gas. As we continue to drive this industry revolution, HARMAN’s strategy is squarely focused on doubling down our leadership in four key megatrends leading the industry: Customization, Cloud, Collaboration and Cybersecurity.
We have moved from connectivity to intelligent systems to total customization and personalization. In fact, Autotrader1 found that 65 percent of consumers are willing to switch car brands to get the technology features they want. And IBM2 reports that 51 percent of consumers are interested in personalized and customized experiences in vehicles. These indicators illustrate just how high the demand is for customizable scalable solutions.
At HARMAN, we have developed the industry’s most complete end-to-end connected car system to provide vehicle cockpit harmonization and intelligent connectivity for adaptable and personalized user experiences. Our platform seamlessly connects the vehicle to relevant systems to save drivers time and improve their connected lifestyle user experience, in and out of the car. The system is scalable to meet the specific needs of automakers and their customers, combing advanced features such as intelligent digital personal assistant, car-to-home automation, customizable cockpit display, Over-The-Air (OTA) telematics updates, multi-camera system processing, and more.
The significance of in-car audio also grows as our vehicles become connected hubs for our everyday lives. Consumers are expecting more in audio and sound management, challenging automakers to provide new experiences within the traditional limitations of the vehicle cabin. HARMAN’s Summit Car Audio platform was designed to meet and exceed those challenges, unlocking an entirely new category of in-car experiences. Automakers can now provide consumers an unprecedented, ever-expanding menu of new and more personalized in-car experiences while simultaneously minimizing part complexity. Summit provides an ultra-premium listening experience capable of potentially unlimited channels of amplification and equalization while simultaneously delivering proprietary HARMAN DSP-based technologies such as Individual Sound Zones (ISZ), QuantumLogic Surround Sound (QLS), Clari-Fi music restoration technology and Road Noise Cancellation (RNC).
As we look to a future of semi- and fully-autonomous cars, solutions that keep drivers and passengers at the center will win out with features and experiences that are personalized and adaptive to the moment.
Cloud connectivity provides the power to unlock a whole new level of real-time customization and personalization in automotive. Gartner3 predicts there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020. Built on our deep experience in connected services, HARMAN recently launched the Ignite automotive cloud platform, to provide a one-stop ecosystem for Over-The-Air device management, application enablement, analytics and managed services. Automakers, dealers and service providers are able to introduce and easily deploy new cloud applications and services through the system. Ignite is both scalable and modular, enabling OEMs to initially purchase a base set of functionality and build on that core base with additional services and capacity as needed.
We can no longer think of key components within the dashboard, audio systems and displays as independent units from the car’s critical safety functions and driving capabilities. HARMAN’s central compute system brings together previously separate connectivity and operational domains under a holistic automotive platform to create a seamless user experience, key to automakers that want to provide more power and drivers who want more customizable features. With more than 2,000 patents in key domains of safety, design, navigation, connectivity, networking, HMI and more, HARMAN’s end-to end-platform is bringing connected car innovations to market that improve driver safety, increase vehicle security and enable new connected experiences.
The next few years in the evolution of connected car technologies will be shaped and accelerated by the dynamic partnerships being forged between everyone from automakers and technology start-ups to tier ones and urban municipalities.
A connected ecosystem that encompasses car, home, devices and everything else, is creating a shift in innovation strategy. Smart players in the technology industry who want to develop innovations that are truly ready for the future and able to survive and thrive, must move away from the usual programming and design challenges, and mingle with players from other industries as well as their rivals.
For automakers, collaboration must be coupled with their own continuing efforts of self-disruption. We must give credit where it is well deserved; the automotive industry has made great strides in breaking from traditional structure to embrace external players that drive innovation, pushing forward speedy development of self-driving cars and also embracing and integrating the benefits that are afforded by artificial intelligence. Automakers and the companies that serve them know that no one company can do this alone and that collaboration is the best and most efficient path to gaining end-to-end solutions, flexibility and scale required to win in the marketplace.
By definition, the connected car does not exist in isolation. When a car’s components are all linked it becomes even more important to holistically address hardware and network configurations to ensure that systems are secure and upgradable – “future proofed” – through OTA updates. HARMAN’s unique ‘Defense in Depth’ approach to cyber security, coupled with a comprehensive 5+1 Cyber Security Framework, are changing the way we keep the connected car protected. The smallest hole, or error, in the security of driving software can create major safety hazards and could impact the integrity of an entire automobile system. ABI Research4 forecasts that nearly 203 million Over-The-Air-enabled cars will ship by 2022. Automakers, drivers and lawmakers are now focusing on this area to keep our roads safe. HARMAN is providing the thought leadership and technologies to ensure we stay one step ahead of those seeking to compromise the integrity of the car. And while downloading patches or additional data for future security systems is one thing, an additional step is to provide retrofit solutions to cars already on the road. In most cases this could be achieved through software, without any costly hardware modifications, which means it could be offered as a dealer upgrade or even an OTA update. With millions of connected cars already in use the significance of this is not to be underestimated. Simply put, there is no connected car, and no autonomous car, without impenetrable automotive grade cybersecurity.
At HARMAN, we have enlisted the best and brightest in Automotive, software development and design architecture – including 12,600 engineers – to build an innovation-driven and customer-centric company with solutions and services that meet today’s requirements and tomorrow’s future possibilities. The promise of the fully autonomous car is appealing for many reasons – from safety and wellness to productivity and entertainment. NHTSA5 in the U.S. cites the potential for reduced accidents caused by fatigued or distracted drivers. Employers point to likely productivity gains. Media companies love the idea of a captive audience. And daily commuters envision more time to relax, read or sleep.
The industry still has much work to do before those aspirations become a part of our daily routine. So when we ask the age old travel question – are we there yet? – the answer is – it depends on where you’re going. The connected and intelligent car is here. Customization has just begun. And fully autonomous driving is on the way. The better question to ask is simply – where to next? Because the future of driving should be considered an amazing and never-ending journey – not a single destination.
4 www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/abi-research-anticipates-accelerated-adoption-of-automotive-software-over-the-air-updates- with-nearly-180 -million-new-sota-enabled-cars-shipping-between-2016 -and-2022-300236298.html
5 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration