Cisco, Nvidia Make Moves in Connected Car Market

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-08-06

Cisco, Nvidia Make Moves in Connected Car Market

Cisco Systems and Nvidia are making moves in the growing market for connected cars, a space that is continuing to attract major players in the tech industry.

Cisco officials, with their counterparts at European automotive supplier Continental, on Aug. 6 demonstrated a joint proof-of-concept connected car that included networking technology that featured high-speed connectivity and strong security.

The companies showed off the concept car during the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich. The automobile included Cisco’s wireless network switching technology and on-board software that enables seamless switching between 3G, 4G and other wireless networks based on such metrics as cost and quality-of-service while the car is moving.

In addition, technology from both Cisco and Continental brings the same security found in homes and offices to the in-car network, according to Cisco officials. The giant networking vendor installed a secure software gateway that brings the company’s core networking capabilities into the automobile, they said.

As more technology is brought into the car, the need for greater connectivity and security will grow, according to Helder Antunes, managing director of Cisco’s Smart Connected Vehicle business.

“With a Cisco software client that taps into the wider network, the car becomes a high-performing hot spot on the road,” Antunes wrote in a post on Cisco’s blog. “With the ability to easily switch between 3G, 4G and other wireless networks, we deliver reliable, non-stop connectivity and provide the basis for superior app performance with voice, video and data.

“The more vehicles become connected, the more entry points you open up for potential hackers. It’s become a prime concern for the industry and Cisco is poised to address it. Leveraging enterprise-grade security, we’ve built in a combination of cloud-based and on-board security solutions from the ground up to secure key attack points.”

Cisco officials said the company would continue to work with Continental to create solutions that will be able to leverage the constant connectivity in moving vehicles.

For their part, Nvidia officials announced Aug. 5 that the company is opening a center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which will enable engineers and executives to work more closely with automakers in the area—such as Chrysler, GM and Ford—to develop technologies for such areas as navigation, driver-assistance programs and infotainment.

Cisco, Nvidia Make Moves in Connected Car Market

The work at the Nvidia Technology Center will build on what the graphics chip maker already has done in the automotive industry, where it powers in-dashboard digital instrument clusters, and navigation and information displays in more than 4 million vehicles made by such companies as Audi, BMW, Rolls Royce and Volkswagen, officials said.

“[Michigan] is where consumer electronics and safety advancements are being made that will change the driving experience for all of us,” Danny Shapiro, director of marketing at Nvidia for its automotive efforts, wrote in a post on the company blog.

Shapiro noted that Nvidia has been working with Michigan automakers for years, and has a number of employees already living in the state. He also pointed out that Nvidia is not alone among tech vendors who see a good growth opportunity in the burgeoning connected-car space. Just as automakers are hiring software developers to create in-car apps, tech companies are looking to build products for automobiles.

Companies from AT&T and Sprint to Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Broadcom are looking to make inroads into the space. According to a 2012 report from market research firm Visiongain, the connected car market could generate almost $22 billion in revenues this year.

In a study released in May, Cisco found that almost half of consumers worldwide—about 47 percent—consider a car company’s reputation for technology when making a purchase decision. In addition, the survey showed the ubiquitous use of technology not only in the car, but also during the process of shopping for and buying the auto, from the 83 percent of respondents who said they research cars online to 61 percent who use the manufacturer’s Website.

"Most consumers expect to be connected to the Internet wherever they are,” Andreas Mai, director of product marketing for Cisco’s Connected Industries Group, said in a statement at the time. “Since they may spend much of their time in their car, it stands to reason they want their car to be more connected.  This consumer survey confirms that it is time to take the Internet to the road and into our cars."

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