In recent years, entertainment features in cars have changed dramatically, as music systems don’t just play music, but also offer a host of other functions. The instrument cluster offers more data to the driver than just speed indication. One of the company’s that offer such solutions to modern vehicles is Harman, an American audio electronics company. Building such complex electronics needs expertise and in-depth know-how about what customers want.
To understand more about Harman’s role in the automotive sector, and its components in a modern car, Express Mobility spoke to Prathab Deivanayagham, the Country Manager of Harman India. Prathab discusses Harman’s role with a car and beyond, the changing customer demands, partnership with EVs, and more.
How has consumer preference changed over the years?
Consumer preference has changed drastically over the years, especially post-pandemic. Today, we’re witnessing the consumerization of automotive at a rate we’ve never seen before.
Consumerization is driving rapid change in not only the way consumers engage with cars, but in how they perceive the role of the car in their everyday lives and what they expect from their vehicle experience. In the past, consumers were limited in how they could apply their preferences in the vehicle – they had cassettes, CDs, bumper stickers. Today, thanks to the explosion of cloud and IoT technology, consumers now have solutions like Car Play, Alexa, Android Auto which offer nearly limitless ways to personalize.
And, believe it or not, this is good news for all of us here today – if we take it and react in the right way. This consumerization presents the opportunity for a transformation into something new and exciting for both industry players and consumers.
What’s more, a study by Deloitte highlighted that 80% of buyers in India prefer some form of connectivity. With new cars like Tata Nexon EV, MG Hector pushing the bar on in-vehicle connectivity, we see the interest levels of consumers also shifting. There has been a steep rise in consumers opting for personal mobility in the past 18 months. Also, adoption of EVs is growing at a significant pace. When it comes to user interface, consumers now prefer natural and branded voice assistants for a seamless experience.
With carmakers integrating more features in the infotainment system such as climate control, connected car technology, and more, what are some of the hurdles in integrating the same?
First and foremost, we must keep the end consumer experience in mind when building features. Introducing new technology just for the sake of it does not deliver anything meaningful. That’s why at HARMAN we believe in creating holistic solutions that work together to deliver a larger end-user experience – as opposed to just adding a bunch of features that may not integrate effectively or seamlessly.
HARMAN believes in bringing ‘Experience per Mile’ and this is realized through HARMAN’s strong suite of End-to-End solutions – Digital Cockpits, Car Audio, Telematics, ADAS and Cloud Services. Unlike the past where multiple controllers ran separate domain functionalities, thanks to the evolution of faster System-on-Chips (SoC), today we are in the era of multi domain controllers. A single multi domain controller hardware can run the functionalities of multiple domains like Infotainment, Instrument Controls, Climate control, Audio and Connectivity. Even from an integration aspect it is a lot easier, though the level of complexity is higher. Any new technology starts at the higher end of the cost curve. So the hurdle is more from democratizing this technology for mass market cars.
What kind of ADAS features is HARMAN working on?
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, are technology solutions available today that serve as stepping stones for the self-driving future. Rooted in safety, HARMAN’s ADAS technologies – from E-Mirrors to Forward-Facing Cameras and driver monitoring systems – bring together the company’s long-standing and forward-looking automotive expertise with Samsung’s extensive sensor, camera and consumer experience, all to help automakers implement a new generation of sensing and safety solutions.
Here is the list of our ADAS offerings:
– Augmented Reality Platform – Combines both ADAS and Navigation AR experience to provide features such as Collision warning, Blind spot warning, Pedestrian Crossing and POI’s.
– Surround View Camera – 3D Surround view solutions enabled through multi-camera solution which provides full 360 degree view around the car, allowing customers to better maneuver and park their cars. Park Assist – Unique, affordable and scalable features to enhance safety and make parking easier. It monitors blind spots and areas the driver might miss, providing a better understanding of what’s happening in the immediate vicinity.
– In Cabin Monitoring (Driver Monitoring System and Occupant Monitoring System ) – HARMAN’s In-Cabin Monitoring System, which comprises Driver Monitoring System (DMS) and Occupant Monitoring Systems (OMS), use camera and sensors to capture important biometric features of drivers such as gaze, head position and pupil diameter, among many other key facial features. It can detect fluctuations in pupil diameter and calculates brain activity level, especially high cognitive load.
– E-Mirror – HARMAN E-mirrors enhance or replace traditional rear and side-view mirrors, providing valuable information, such as distance to other vehicles and speed.
What kind of safety measures does HARMAN take to keep customer data secure?
As cars become increasingly connected and more technologically advanced with Android in-car becoming mainstream, it brings a host of 3rd party Apps. Giving rise to increase in threat vectors and more susceptible to cybercrime. There are over 100 million lines of code in today’s automobiles and continuing to grow. Cybersecurity is no longer a luxury but necessity along with OTA to fix security issues. In fact there are government mandates in the EU on cyber security and software updates. Major attacks could cost millions of dollars between direct and indirect costs.
Automakers can’t be expected to tackle these high data security demands alone, which is why HARMAN not only serves as a valued cybersecurity consultant, but also as a supplier of a vault-like security solution. HARMAN SHIELD allows automakers and mobility service providers to drive digital expansion while managing risks, without hindering growth. And HARMAN’s OTA (Over the Air) software update is a secure way to update ECUs in vehicles. As a pioneer in automotive cybersecurity and with years of domain expertise, HARMAN is a trusted cybersecurity partner to vehicle manufacturers globally.
In terms of Digital Cockpit Solutions, what does Harman offer, and what OEMs are you partnered with?
Automakers and consumers alike demand sophistication and simplicity in equal measure, but scale can often get in the way of progress. HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit solution aims to eliminate this roadblock with a scalable platform solution that can show every critical piece of information – from how fast the car is going, to what’s on the radio – all in as little as one display. Available in entry-level and premium offerings, HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit serves as an end-to-end solution that offers automakers the ultimate framework for customized content.
HARMAN’s Digital Cockpit Platform combines all experiences on one single platform. The platform bundles all strengths of HARMAN’s areas of expertise to create maximum value for OEMs and consumers alike. Its platform based approach caters to both volume and premium markets:
– Digital Cockpit – Global Market Solutions – Consumers are demanding more digital experiences inside the car regardless of the vehicle’s price point. Through value and integration engineering, HARMAN’s global market solutions enable a personalized and integrated cabin user experience. This platform leverages the experiences from delivering premium solutions with cost down through optimal hardware costs. This is achieved via reduced system complexity with the ability to be seamlessly connected across multiple domains. The approach provides profound rich user experiences like personalization, navigation, voice and productivity without the associated costs of a premium system. A key component to delivering such rich, cost-effective experiences comes from the HARMAN Ignite Cloud Platform.
– Digital Cockpit – Premium Capabilities – The Digital Cockpit Platform for scalable premium solutions leverages a wide range of core assets like Connected Services, the HARMAN Ignite Cloud Platform, ADAS functions and the pre-integrated HARMAN Android IVI and AudioworX to provide superior driving experiences. New powerful and scalable silicon families integrate more features into the software. Neural networks provide AI functions like face and natural voice recognition for premium online and offline experiences. Deep vehicle sensor and camera integration reduces the vehicle system complexity and increases the in-cabin experience through premium ADAS features.
Can you tell us more about HARMAN’s Engineering and R&D?
HARMAN’s R&D Centre was established in 2009 and now has evolved as a Global center of competence for all of Digital Cockpit electronics engineering. It is a team of over 2000+ brilliant minds contributing to global platforms and programs, across Digital Cockpits, Car Audio, Telematics and ADAS, catering to both Indian customers such as TATA, Maruti and global customers like GM, Toyota , VW, etc.
The team is proficient in end to end program delivery capabilities including software, hardware, mechanical engineering simulations, testing and certifications. We have an acoustics engineering lab in Pune, which helps OEMs deliver superior audio experience in cars. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Chakan (Pune) is the goldmine for building highly sophisticated connected car solutions including automotive infotainment units for the likes of TATA, Maruti and exporting products to Europe for customers like Daimler.
How did the pandemic affect operations at HARMAN? How is the semiconductor shortage affecting production?
The global semiconductor industry is facing significant capacity constraints. HARMAN has acted swiftly and thoroughly to mitigate delays and protect the interests of its customers while meeting customer demands.
Since the realities of the shortages in the semiconductor industry became apparent in late 2020, HARMAN has independently managed the situation. To address the shortage, we have optimized our logistics chain, pulled ahead supplies and adapted our production plans. All in an effort to avoid delays and protect the interests of our customers while meeting customer demands.
HARMAN remains committed to proactively working with its customers and business partners to do everything possible to minimize the consequences of this situation.
HARMAN’s USP in the market is its end-to-end-capability, from engineering to program management, manufacturing footprint, acoustics capabilities and a huge talent pool contributing to global platforms. With over 2.0 M products on Indian roads through successful partnership with major OEMs, HARMAN stands out as a leading player in the Automotive Electronics and Audio space. What’s more, our experience in the Consumer Electronics space gives a unique advantage to our OEM partners to leverage the power of our brands and enhance their value proposition in a competitive market.