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CES: Harman and Samsung to lead in future mobility

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Announced at this year’s CES, Harman and Samsung unveiled a range of connected car solutions in an effort to position the companies as leaders in the field.

It hasn’t been a year since Harman International became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. focused on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets and the two companies have already leveraged their combined teams and resources to drive future mobility forward. Unveiled at CES 2018 are a range of unique connected car solutions that support Harman and Samsung’s joint mission to become the leader in connectivity and autonomous driving: connecting the lives of people, whether at home, on the go, or together in the car.

These key innovations showcase an integrated approach to a rich digital car experience, including:

·         A reinvented digital cockpit platform for all vehicle segments that has given the interior of the car a makeover;

·         A new telematics solution along with the industry first automotive-grade 5G-ready connectivity solution; and

·         An ecosystem of partners and solutions to further build out the Samsung open autonomous platform, along with a showcase of our first implementation of this together with TTTech Computertechnik AG.

Each new solution was made possible through the Harman-Samsung alliance that leverages Samsung’s global scale, R&D capabilities, dominance in mobile/TV/semiconductors and distribution channels and Harman’s leading connected car heritage, relationships, market knowledge and growing community of innovation partners. Both companies are also making global investments in start-ups to help Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) meet growing consumer demand for in-vehicle technology through scalable solutions that enhance the user experience for every vehicle segment.

“Together with Samsung, we have increased innovation speed through scale, resources and competencies to help automakers focus on the car’s evolution from device-centric to experience centric,” said Dinesh Paliwal, Harman President and CEO. “Harman has the heritage and expertise in automotive and collectively Harman and Samsung harness our best technologies and global scale to accelerate how we better serve the needs of automakers in this rapidly evolving automotive market.”

New Harman Digital Cockpit Platform 

The new Digital Cockpit platform includes a suite of flexible and scalable premium experiences that support today’s connected lifestyles without compromising safety or performance. It’s available in standard and advanced system configurations and can seamlessly integrate the instrument cluster with centre console via voice, haptic feedback, and physical knobs and steering wheel controls in a single, centre screen for all vital vehicle information and features. This also supports a multi-modal approach for interactions with different human-machine interfaces to allow customisation in terms of HVAC, media and user settings.

The Digital Cockpit platform brings an entirely new generation of communication and ergonomics inside vehicles, allowing drivers to focus on the road ahead while intuitively and safely interacting with their in-car technology. This is made possible through a projection mode for services and apps via a user’s smartphone, allowing for increased personalisation. A greater IoT ecosystem via cloud technology in the entry-level segment, as well as mid/high-level configurations, not only improves connectivity, but helps lower costs and overall vehicle weight.

In a premium configuration, the Digital Cockpit weaves together a driver’s entire connected lifestyle across the Internet of Things. Through a multi-display layout that leverages Harman’s Ignite Platform, the in-car user experience can be personalised for the driver and passenger via services such as virtual personal assistants, portable profiles, augmented reality and more. This also allows for the Android OS to be integrated on four displays – a first for the industry.

Focused on a future generation of shared mobility, the premium Digital Cockpit personalises occupant experiences, so drivers and passengers feel like the car is theirs even if they don’t own it. By leveraging the phone as a key service, the system can automatically access subscription services associated with user profiles while Bixby offers intelligent personal assistance to help occupants complete tasks by voice, touch, gesture and context-based triggers.

The Digital Cockpit is scalable and made available for every automotive segment, offering future proof and safety-focused features within a developer-friendly open ecosystem.

First 5G Automotive Telematics Solution and Customer

Harman and Samsung are jointly developing modular approaches for advanced telematics, capable of 1 Gb/s bandwidth. Harman and Samsung will deliver the industry’s first 5G-ready automotive solution and multi-band conformal antenna to enable secure, fast and reliable data communications. The solution consists of a telematics control unit with a modular design accommodating a network access device (NAD) supporting LTE CAT 16 connectivity today and 5G in the future leveraging the same hardware design. 5G represents a paradigm shift in the future of mobility. In the automotive sector, 5G delivers safety-enhancing C-V2X capability that is an essential enabler for autonomous transportation. 5G boosts speeds up to 100X faster than current 4G LTE standards to provide incredibly fast high-resolution streaming, immersive virtual and augmented reality features and seamless cloud-based applications in fast-moving cars. Ultra-reliable and with low-latency response times of just 1ms, 5G enables C-V2X and cloud-based compute and storage for the next generation autonomous vehicles. Harman announced that a leading European automaker will be the first customer for this solution. At CES 2018, Harman and Samsung will demonstrate high speed connectivity in a future mobility concept vehicle powered by the Samsung Networks 5G infrastructure.

Advanced Driving Solutions Today for an Autonomous Tomorrow

Developed in close collaboration with Harman, Samsung announced its new DRVLINE platform, an open and modular platform for autonomous driving designed to scale from Level 3 automation up to Levels 4 and 5. The two companies will continue to focus on engineering, high-performance computing, sensor technologies, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and cloud and connectivity solutions that are scalable and capable of lower-level autonomy through to Level 5. The first Harman/Samsung-developed ADAS product will be a forward-facing camera featuring lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning and pedestrian warning algorithms. The new system combines Samsung’s heritage in camera technology with Harman’s ADAS 360 solution that blends machine learning and data science with augmented reality to create a self-learning virtual co-passenger to ensure the connected driving experience is personalised and safe. The new system will begin shipping in 2018.

Cars

Mini embraces innovation

Mini has launched its 2018 models with customisable interior features and major technology upgrades, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Mini has never been known as a high-tech car, due to its small form factor being the differentiator. But now the well-known brand has received a long-awaited strategy overhaul, bringing with it a new technology focus. Even the Mini logo underwent a subtle redesign, opting to use negative space to show the gaps in the wings of the logo instead of a raised metal look. This forms part of the new “MINImalism” strategy. 

Mini’s strategy for now and the foreseeable future is to increase automation in its cars.

Connected Drive, pioneered by BMW, allows for an intelligent connection between the car and smartphone. This enables one to check the fuel level, heat the interior and start the onboard navigation, all without having to be near the car, from a smartphone. When one is in the car, calendar events with location data can trigger the onboard navigation to calculate ETAs and time in traffic, offset on real-time data collected through the smartphone’s Internet connection.

We tested it with both the Mini Connected Drive and BMW Connected Drive apps, and both interfaced well with the car. Surprisingly, the BMW Connected Drive app seemed to interface slightly better with the Mini than the Mini Connected Drive app.

While the app is recommended, it’s not required, because the car integrates excellently with Bluetooth-enabled devices. iPhone users are in luck, because the entertainment system includes CarPlay, Apple’s simplified connected car interface software. This allows for music, maps and other CarPlay-enabled apps to be shown directly on the car’s touchscreen ,as they do on the iPhone, save some text-sizing adjustments. 

Pairing the iPhone is as easy as holding down a button on the steering wheel and tapping the car when it appears in the built-in CarPlay menu on the iPhone. No app download is required.

MINImalism runs through the car’s technology. The Mini’s 6.5-inch touch screen control panel shows an image of the car with layman’s terms of what the internal systems are doing, keeping to minimalist design patterns. The new Mini Coopers come standard with a Harman/Kardon 12-speaker setup, which features in the Mini Connected Drive. 

The steering wheel is redesigned, now featuring more buttons to help keep one’s hands on the wheel. The left side of the wheel features cruise control buttons, while volume and call controls are located on the right side. This bears a strong resemblance to the BMW configuration, featuring similarly placed steering controls. 

With all the Mini’s customisations, the company invites consumers to take it further with optional extra.s Mini Yours Customised (yours-customised.mini) is a web platform where one can choose custom side scuttles, custom cockpit facia, customised LED door stills and even a customised door projection light. These parts are either 3D-printed or laser-cut, depending on the material, to the specification outlined on the web app.

As optional extras, one can opt for a wireless charger in the armrest compartment and secondary front USB port for both the driver and front passenger, to charge their phones simultaneously. A SIM card connecting to the 4G/LTE network can be fitted directly into the car, allowing for use of Mini Teleservices and Intelligent Emergency Calling, with automatic vehicle location reporting. The Mini Find Mate is an extra service that uses wireless tags to track items from the car’s onboard system or from the Mini Connected Drive app. This tag can be attached to frequently misplaced items or travel items, like  backpacks, suitcases and briefcases.  

Future Minis are expected to be electric by 2019 in Europe and are expected to arrive in South Africa in mid-2020. This seems realistic, considering that the BMW i3 forms part of the same group. 

Overall, the Mini range has received a subtle yet effective cosmetic and technology overhaul, delivering loads of functionality in a minimalist package.

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Why SA needs connected taxis

Traffic across South Africa continues to be a headache and digital acceleration may just be the answer in mitigating daily congestion, says CLAYTON NAIDOO, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cisco.

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Creating smart cities and digital workplaces means connecting infrastructure and digitizing transport systems, particularly in the taxi industry. Can you imagine what South Africa roads would looks like in 10-years-time, if taxis were connected?

According to Statistics SA’s 2013 Household Survey, taxi operators transport over 15 million commuters daily.  Around 200,000 minibus taxis, across 2 600 taxi ranks, provide the main mode of transport for 50% of SA’s population earning less than R3 000 per month. 

The impact of the taxi industry on the daily lives of South Africans is huge, research by Transaction Capital, a financial services provider in the taxi industry revealed.   An estimated 70% of people who attend educational institutions make use of taxis, 69% of all South African households use taxis in their transport mix, and a staggering 68% of all public transport trips to work are in taxis. Plus, minibus taxis reach remote places other forms of public transport don’t – the average South African lives within a 5-minute walk of a minibus taxi. 

Sadly, the industry is still faced with challenges when it comes to road congestion, accidents and safety, and with drivers often forced by financial needs to work long hours. But a future where taxis can operate efficiently and profitably, while improving safety and providing a more convenient customer and employee experience, is possible. But it requires a digital business transformation. 

Our cities need to start connecting infrastructure and piloting these digital experiences now. Globally, there will be 380 million connected vehicles on the roads by 2020, but that is only half the battle. The first step toward making the frictionless commute a reality is for local governments to begin investing in technology architectures and physical infrastructure to accelerate connected transportation systems and create workplace innovation. 

On the strategic side, transportation officials can begin by identifying best practice. It is best to first pinpoint a problem that is unique to a city or region. For example, a city with notorious traffic congestion might want to start integrating smart sensors on roadways to alert drivers and connected vehicles in real-time of potential hazards, and possibly prevent accidents before they happen.

How would that look in practice? Let’s take the example of Sipho Ngwenya, a fictional character, from Zola in Soweto, one of the 600 000 people employed in the industry. 

He gets up at 4am everyday to get to the taxi rank where he parks his mini bus overnight. Sipho hopes to be one of the first drivers there to ensure he fills his taxi with commuters, who travel to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg for work and school. 

The earlier he starts transporting people, the better chance he has of generating the daily “rental fee” he pays his boss – the owner of the minibus. If Sipho is even 10 minutes late, the queue of people at the rank may have halved. If his taxi is the last one in the queue, it may not fill up, and he may need to drive around the block to find more commuters. The delay means longer hours for him, his conductor-cum-assistant (guardjie) will have to spend more time calculating and collecting fares, and it will increase his costs – he’ll spend more money on fuel.

Fast forward six-months later, when the Joburg metro area would have implemented the Cisco Connected Mass Transit technology solution to connect the taxi industry. Sipho’s alarm goes off at 4am. He grabs his phone and logs onto the Cisco platform before he jumps out of bed: the weather is clear but there’s been an accident overnight on his route to the rank – he’ll have to take a detour. He checks once again just as he leaves home, and sees that he has time to grab breakfast on his way. 

He is the first driver to arrive at the rank that morning – stress-free and ready to start. The rest of the minibuses are stuck behind the accident. He loads commuters and manages to get all of them to their destinations 10 minutes early, by checking the best routes.  Payments are no longer collected in person – there is now an easy mobile payment option that customers love, especially the young ones. And Sipho no longer needs to search for commuters – they stop his minibus on the road because it is marked as a ‘connected minibus’. This is a smart workplace.

These digital solutions are real and available to the SA taxi world. There are some caveats, though: Cisco’s international experience shows that these solutions are best implemented alongside awareness campaigns for commuters and government incentives to drive adoption, as well as ensuring the regulatory environment is conducive. Luckily, technology itself isn’t too much of a problem: the solutions work with existing IT systems local governments have installed.

Imagine South Africa in a decade. Now imagine a South Africa where traffic congestion is a thing of the past. 

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