LAS VEGAS — Automotive technology company Harman sees new cabin features such as monitoring a driver's vital signs or upgrading audio experiences as an essential marketing strategy automakers can use to attract buyers.
The tech, part of Harman's growing automotive product portfolio, aims to enable car brands to create in-vehicle experiences that meet the unique demands of their specific customers.
"The in-cabin experience becomes the differentiator," Armin Prommersberger, senior vice president of product management at Harman Automotive, told Automotive News.
That entails every digital facet of a vehicle, including the displays, user interfaces, features such as cabin climate controls and the overall connectivity of the vehicle, Prommersberger said.
One Harman innovation unveiled at the CES technology show last week uses neuroscience, artificial intelligence and machine learning to expand the capabilities of the company's Ready Care solution, which is centered on the well-being of the driver and passengers.
The latest addition to Ready Care, launched last year, enables the vehicle to reduce distracted driving and initiate a personalized in-cabin response to help mitigate dangerous driving situations caused by physical dynamics such as stress, anxiety and drowsiness. The Harman radar-based technology, which uses customizable interventions such as audio settings to alert the driver, can also detect when a child or pet has been left in the vehicle.
Another suite of innovations Harman debuted at CES includes sound and vibration sensor and external microphone products that enhance audio inside and outside the vehicle to keep the driver abreast of potentially dangerous situations. The audio technology enables the driver to hear sounds such as emergency vehicle sirens, exterior speech commands from drivers or traffic controllers, and glass breakage or vehicle impact.
Harman Ready Vision, another feature showcased at CES, provides drivers with intuitive turn-by-turn directions directly on the windshield and helps to enhance driver cognition. Ready Vision also uses computer vision and machine learning for 3D object detection to deliver collision warnings, blind spot warnings, lane departure, lane-change assist and low-speed zone notifications to the driver, with a focus on being far less intrusive than other vehicle warning systems.
Harman also debuted a new scalable platform, Ready on Demand, that delivers upgrades for Harman-branded audio experiences such as Virtual Venues, replicating the acoustics of live stadium environments. The platform is the foundation for expanding in-vehicle experiences and future upgrades that consumers can unlock via in-app purchases throughout the vehicle's life.
Harman also showcased a set of fully upgradeable hardware and software components that enable automakers to perform upgrades throughout the vehicle's life and accelerate time to market, much like a mobile device. The new hardware and software components, called Ready Upgrade, feature three families of production-grade cockpit domain controllers, an entire instrument cluster and an in-vehicle infotainment software stack.
Harman has not yet disclosed which automakers are in line to adopt its new products. Prommersberger said all of these features are ready for production vehicles now.
As a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics — which accounts for about 21.2 percent of the smartphone market, according to Statista — Harman can develop in-vehicle applications at a speed that meets the demands of tech-savvy consumers, he said.
"OEMs spend so much time and effort, over and over again, writing specifications and requirements," Prommersberger said. "We are going to the designer and not to someone who writes a specification sheet … so you can spend more time on improving the quality of the experience instead of just getting the basics right."