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Intel on connected car within the semiconductor industry

“Consumers yearn for an automotive experience that is as personalized, intuitive and connected as their smartphone and are willing to pay for functionality and features touching on two key desires: safety and convenience.” 

                                                                                          Joel Hoffman, Automotive Strategist, Intel

Intel has had a long presence in the connected car space. The Santa Clara, CA based semiconductor giant which gave us the first integrated circuit is now making its presence inimitable in within the automotive industry. Intel has already introduced a slew of hardware and software products, which it calls ‘In-Vehicle Solutions”, to the market. It has penned down multi-million dollar deals with OEM’s like Ford for the so-called Project Mobii that focuses on novel in-cas UX design and connectivity. None the less,the company also invested a portion of its Capital Connected Car fund into ‘self-driving’ cars being developed by ZMP, a Japanese robotic company.

Meanwhile, Intel affirmed that  its Internet of Things Group achieved revenue of $482 million in the first quarter, up 32% year-over-year, thanks largely to strong demand for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

Joel_Hoffman_Intel_Telematics_Wire
Joel Hoffman

Telematics Wire had a chance to interact with Intel’s automotive team wherein it discovered the opportunities for semiconductor companies within the connected car and infotainment landscape. Joel Hoffman, Automotive Strategist, Transportation Solutions Division of Intel explains about the various initiatives at Intel in this niche. Joel has over 30 years of experience developing new markets and territories in the automotive and consumer electronics industry. He is responsible for Intel’s Connected Car strategy having led Intel’s low-power embedded division focused on In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). At present he is lead Intel’s Founding Charter relationship with the GENIVI Alliance as a director on the board. In a nutshell, he is a Salesman that understands engineering as well as business.

Let us know more about connected car from a chip manufacturer’s perspective…

How are automotive solutions defined within the IoT landscape? 

Automotive in IoT is not well defined yet, but IoT can make a more advanced driving experience possible. The car is one of the largest data generators a consumer has. Many are unaware that their vehicle actually produces gigabytes of “data exhaust” that can be intelligently combined with data collected from elsewhere, such as the roadways, intelligent transportation systems and consumer devices, and aggregated to alert drivers about conditions on the road ahead, help better manage traffic and create safe and more secure in-vehicle experiences.

What sort of opportunities does the automotive segment, specifically the ‘Connected Car,’ present to Intel and other Silicon Valley companies?

Consumers yearn for an automotive experience that is as personalized, intuitive and connected as their smartphone and are willing to pay for functionality and features touching on two key desires: safety and convenience.

Intel recently collaborated with Ford on research for Project Mobii to explore how perceptual computing can make driving more intuitive and enjoyable. We looked at applications that could use interior cameras to identify drivers in order to deliver seamless personalization by automatically adjusting in-vehicle information to each driver, and limiting the amount of personal data presented if passengers are present. Additionally, if Project Mobii does not recognize the driver, a photo is sent to the primary vehicle owner’s smartphone, who can then set permissions and restrictions for specific features.

How critical is Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) connectivity for cars to be a part of IoT ecosystem? 

Vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity will be a huge step forward for transportation, but it’s not critical for us to connect vehicles to the Internet of Things. We have an opportunity to make driving safer and more enjoyable for individuals by using technology that is available now, without an expensive overhaul of existing transportation infrastructure.

However, the possibilities for smart transportation infrastructure would allow us to tackle some of the largest problems facing our world, including excess greenhouse emissions, the frustrations of commuting and the large number of accidents caused by driver error.

Do we need to be concerned about the massive amount of data and the inherent privacy issues with Connected Cars?  If so, how are these addressed?

Privacy is a very important concern. The Ford Mobii research mentioned above is looking at using internal cameras to limit the display of sensitive information when passengers or guest drivers are detected in the car. For example, if you were to leave your car with a valet, the technology would prevent the new driver from seeing your address book or other personal information.

Intel has worked with leading automotive OEMs to bring new in-vehicle solutions. How exciting and challenging is the synergy between automakers and semiconductor industry? How does one leverage the competency of the other?

This is a very exciting time to be involved in the automotive industry. We’re already seeing some high-end cars coming equipped with advanced systems like adaptive cruise control that uses radar to monitor traffic and apply the brakes when necessary. There are cars now that can park themselves or alert you when you drift outside your lane.

There are definitely challenges that come with integrating ever more sophisticated technology into the car. However, Intel brings a breadth of experience in consumer electronics and enterprise IT and is also taking a holistic automotive investment approach across product development, ecosystem growth and groundbreaking research efforts to enable the auto industry to keep pace with innovation.

As of today, which in-vehicle services do you think are gaining popularity among users? Are there any that you think would become ‘must-have’ features for the cars in coming years?

Initial services are focused on assisting the driver. We want usable voice-activation features to attempt avoiding distraction. True, reliable voice integration is what drivers are waiting for.

Apps that quickly locate ride-sharing opportunities are a popular feature for urban drivers and millennials, who are buying cars in fewer numbers than previous generations. Helping coordinate these options will save consumers time and money, and help reduce congested traffic. Some of the most sought after apps are the more practical, like those dealing with weather and those identifying the most affordable local gas prices and hotel options. Another popular app feature will be quickly locating open parking spots. There’s also a big demand for integrated vehicle infrastructure apps. These apps give drivers real-time updates on the performance of their vehicles and insight into where efficiency can be improved. We are seeing this already in apps that provide route guidance suggestions based on fuel economy and current traffic conditions. The cloud will connect us to subscription services that will make this easy and automatic.

There have been some pilot programs on ‘autonomous’ cars across the globe. How realistic is it to build of a sustainable business model around this technology?

We have the technological capabilities right now to develop some autonomous capabilities, and have seen some impressive experiments over the past few years. Consumer demand already exists; Intel conducted a global survey earlier in 2014 that showed broad support for driverless vehicles and smart infrastructure.

The next big step is to adapt the technologies being used in these pilot programs into an automotive and safety certified format at affordable cost. This is a high priority for Intel as we have described our recent development accelerators such as the Intel® In-Vehicle Solutions platform, a family of hardware and software products designed to enable carmakers and their suppliers to more quickly and easily deliver in-vehicle experiences that consumers demand, while reducing the cost of developing them. Today most automakers are focused on innovation in areas of convenience today and see a noticeable path to advanced driving and autonomous driving.

Stay tuned with Telematics Wire for latest updates in the Vehicle Telematics niche.

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