You know the company for its Harman Kardon sound systems, but it's about to revolutionize infotainment and safety.
Harman announced several new automotive interior technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This automotive technology company is a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics focused on improving consumer experiences in the automotive space. The latest technology includes items to improve safety, entertainment, and a combination of both.
Among the several new technologies to debut is Ready Care, a new closed-loop interior sensing system that can tell whether a driver is paying attention. We've seen this technology before, but this version is so advanced that it can measure eye movement, cognitive load, and vitals. And by vitals, we mean heart rate, breathing rate, and even the interval between heartbeats.
Instead of putting a coffee cup in the display to tell you to pull over, the onboard artificial intelligence will come up with a personalized in-cabin response to various situations, including stress, anxiety, distraction, and drowsiness.
Ready Care does this by using a driver-facing infrared camera or in-cabin radar to monitor vital signs, which means there's no need to wear any devices on the body. The closed-loop system also includes Child Presence Detection, which also uses radar. It can detect a child (or any form of life) in the vehicle after the driver has left. Harman will provide multiple solutions to OEMs to alert the driver if this happens.
Next up is the Ready Vision augmented reality head-up display. The hardware allows for a large field of view and 3D object detection. According to Harman, the packaging of this technology represents a significant cost saving for OEMs and is available in two sizes.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will work harmoniously with systems like navigation, in-car microphones, sound systems, and advanced driver assistance systems to provide intelligent and timely visual and audio alerts that are less intrusive than the systems we currently know.
Harman also introduced a new range of Sound and Vibration Sensor (SVS) and External Microphone products. According to Harman, these systems are easy to incorporate into existing OEM products. In short, it uses the power of audio on the inside and outside via microphones and speakers.
The internal microphones can detect the sound of glass breaking or a car crashing. An exterior microphone can listen for emergency vehicle sirens and speech commands from drivers or traffic controllers. Harman did not mention any artificial intelligence related to this product, but it ties in nicely with Ready Upgrade, the next piece of technology on our list.
Ready Upgrade is a new series of Cockpit Domain Controllers that allow for quick and easy hardware and software upgrades.
Instead of relying only on over-the-air updates (OTA), Harman's new interior system will allow OEMs to keep up with the times. While OTAs can add new features, the hardware eventually becomes too old to handle newer features. Imagine trying to upgrade a sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class with all the latest MBUX software, for example. The hardware is not strong enough to cope with everything the new S offers.
Ready Upgrade consists of a full instrument cluster and in-vehicle infotainment software stack, pre-integrated features, and a full suite of low-code software development tools for customers. It will be available in three different "families," so we assume there will be a solution across multiple price segments.
Harman says the hardware can be replaced with a new generation every 18 to 24 months. In addition to keeping older cars as up-to-date as possible, manufacturers can also use it as an opportunity to make money via new business models. Whether this will be a once-off payment of the widely despised subscription model is for the OEM to decide.
Finally, we have Ready on Demand, a scalable platform for sound systems that can also be upgraded over time. It's effectively a platform that can be branded and equipped to the most basic entry-level car, all the way to a Rolls-Royce. The upgrades are the real winner here because it's similar to an in-app purchase.
Consumers can purchase, upgrade, and personalize the sound system equipped to their car, which offers another way for an OEM to make a few bucks. According to Harman, "consumers now trigger well over 200 billion smartphone app downloads per year, equaling between 2-3 app downloads per month, per person.
"Today, when you purchase a vehicle, it's not always possible to get every feature you may want right at the start," said Armin Prommersberger, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Harman International. "With Harman's audio, system integration and user interface development expertise, Ready on Demand transforms the traditional complex retrofit upgrade process for audio into something quick and easy for consumers, who can now create and customize their in-vehicle listening experience with just a few clicks."