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Two giants join forces in the infotainment market

David Sedgwick is a Senior Writer for Automotive News

The big boys are moving into the infotainment business.

Intel Corp. has created a $100 million investment fund to encourage hardware and software developers to develop new technologies for automotive infotainment.

By 2014, autos will be one of the three fastest growing markets for connected devices and Internet content, according to a recent report from Gartner Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Intel wants a piece of that action, and it named a few technologies that it will nurture: speech recognition, gesture recognition and eye tracking.

Intel, which dominates the market for computer microprocessors, isn't a big player within the auto industry - at least, not yet. But it already has lined up one influential ally: Japanese supplier Denso Corp.

On Feb. 29, Denso announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel to design next-generation vehicle infotainment systems.

Not so coincidentally, that was the same day that Intel announced its investment fund.

Denso has developed infotainment technologies such as NaviBridge - which lets the motorist use an iPhone to set destinations for the onboard navigator - and Arpeggio, which allows the motorist to use smartphone applications in the vehicle.

Denso also developed Entune, the infotainment system unveiled last year in the redesigned Toyota Camry.

So we can assume that Denso - which generates annual sales of $38 billion - and Intel, a $54 billion behemoth, will crush all resistance, right?

Well, maybe not. Automotive chip producers such as Renesas Electronics Corp. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. have deep pockets, too. Perhaps more important, they have longstanding relationships with their customers.

It will be interesting to see how Denso and Intel tackle this market.

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