Intel Invests To Spur Connected Car Innovation

Intel announced several automotive investments and initiatives to spur innovation and product development that will enable new and innovative connected car experiences. The investments include the new Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center located in Karlsruhe (Germany), expansion of Intel Labs Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) in automotive, an academic outreach program, and the establishment of the $100 million Intel Capital Connected Car Investment Fund.

The Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center will serve as Intel’s global center of competence for the development of products and technologies for in-vehicle infotainment and telematics solutions for the connected car. The center will optimize Intel technologies for applications and services as well as capabilities for consumer electronics integration, performance optimization and system design.

Located in Karlsruhe, Germany, the site benefits from its proximity to top technical universities and a robust ecosystem of hardware and software vendors with expertise in automotive technology. The new Karlsruhe facility is part of Intel´s Automotive Solutions Division within the Intel Architecture Group and is in addition the latest member of Intel’s European research and development network Intel Labs Europe, which consists of currently 27 R&D centers and more than 1500 R&D professionals.

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini quoted in the press release:

“In today’s mobile world, personal computing touches every part of consumers’ daily lives while at home, at the office and on the road. By broadening our research efforts, academic and capital investments and opening the Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center, Intel is deepening its understanding of how people interact with their cars and how Intel innovations can enhance the automotive experience.”

Intel Labs Interaction and Experience Research (IXR)

By means of the IXR Intel and its customers will obtain valuable insights into consumer experiences in the vehicle. Intel aims to apply that knowledge to the development of technology solutions for the vehicle and transportation infrastructure to make the driving experience more enjoyable, intuitive and safe.

Intel Capital Creates $100 Million Connected Car Fund

Today, Intel Capital became the first global technology investment organization to announce an investment fund focused on fostering automotive technology innovation. The Intel Capital Connected Car Fund aims to accelerate the seamless connection between the vehicle and consumer electronic devices as well as drive new in-vehicle applications, services and differentiated user experiences based on Intel technologies.

Growing amount of initiatives in this space

Late 2011 Fiat and BMW joined the Car Connectivity Consortium, a body developing a standard scheme for linking smartphones to in-car entertainment and navigation systems that already numbers Daimler, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and VW among its members.

September 2011, Ford revealed details about their Ford EVOS, a cloud-connected car scheduled to be launched this year in Europe at the IFA event in Berlin.

Wired reports the following about EVOS:

“The car is designed to be constantly connected to the cloud, which ensures it will know your work calendar and will monitor traffic conditions. Ford claims that the car can tap into a “personal cloud” of information, remembering an individual’s preferred handling, temperature and music settings. It even goes as far as to monitor the driver’s physical state and workload, adapting the heating and music to affect the driver’s alertness (thanks to a heart rate monitor) — possibly bringing the temperature down to ensure drowsiness is banished.”

At the Mobile World Congress, Ford Motor executive chairman Bill Ford tried to elevate the discussion of the connected car beyond the infotainment system.

GigaOM reports the following on the discussion:

“Ford outlined a future of 4 billion cars that don’t just use wireless links to tap into music, media and navigation, but communicate with one another as peers, sharing information such as their speed, direction and the moment they brake with all of the other vehicles on the road.

Such technology could be used to create harmony on the highway, Ford said, sorting vehicles into the optimal spacing pattern and allowing them to automatically decelerate when cars miles down the highway warn of impending traffic. It will be the closest thing the industry has ever developed to autopilot, Ford said. Furthermore such ad hoc vehicle networks could be integrated with other transportation networks, from pedestrian cross-walk systems to connected bicycles, making your car a single node in a giant grid of multi-modal transit intelligence.”

Not just a bright future

Safety and security are challenges to well overthink, Gigaom elaborates:

There’s a good reason in-car networking has focused primarily on entertainment and navigation. Giving the network access to the more sensitive workings of our cars’ drive computers could wind up being privacy and safety nightmares. Sharing real-time data about your car’s current direction and speed to hundreds of other vehicles is going to be disconcerting to many, but what happens if the drivers of those vehicles or anyone with a Wi-Fi receiver can access that same data? Could that connection be used to track cars as they traverse the highways?

What if the network is hacked? Such networks aren’t just transmitting information, they’re acting on it. Introducing false vehicle data into the stream could cause our cars to respond to phantoms, swerving to avoid vehicles that aren’t there and braking for gridlock that doesn’t exist.

Innovating for purpose

Besides the more traffic- and safety centric innovation, what innovation do you think can serve the purpose of a drive?

Think of bringing kids to school, groceries, travel and what more. How can a connected car enrich the experience from that perspective?

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:

Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is also Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy, which helps clients open their activity directly and indirectly to external stakeholders through the use of social media, its data and technologies for the purpose of competitive advantages in marketing, service- and product innovation.