SAN FRANCISCO -- Harman International Industries Inc. invested in a startup that makes projection displays that sit in front of car windshields, signalling a new area it plans to explore under the ownership of Samsung Electronics Co.
The investment in Navdy Inc. is Harman’s first since agreeing to sell itself to Samsung for $8 billion last month. Harman will work with the startup to sell co-branded devices next year, said Navdy CEO Doug Simpson.
Navdy’s hardware is placed above the steering wheel and projects information from the driver’s smartphone onto a transparent screen, so the driver can see updates at a glance. The heads-up display, which sells for $799, can deliver driving directions, text messages, song titles and alerts about incoming phone calls.
Harman is one of the biggest suppliers of infotainment systems to the automotive industry.
Navdy could help Harman push other services by, for example, telling drivers when their cars need a mechanic, which could drive purchases of Harman’s auto parts. The line between the automotive and technology industries is blurring as cars come to rely more heavily on software for ride-hailing and autonomous driving. Apple Inc. is developing its own self-driving car system, and last year it acquired Metaio GmbH, a maker of augmented reality products that counts Volkswagen AG and BMW AG among its biggest customers.
Simpson said Navdy had been in talks with automakers about an investment before opting to take money from Harman. The tie-up should help the startup sell its devices directly to carmakers, he said. Navdy has sold about 20,000 pre-orders since 2014.
Navdy declined to comment on the size of Harman’s investment. The San Francisco company said it has raised a total of $42 million from investors, which also include chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. and several venture capital firms.
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