Samsung and its new subsidiary Harman International have teamed up to try and make the ultimate connected vehicle. On display at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, the systems are meant to show what the companies will do together going forward and include connected car technologies, an autonomous driving platform, custom-designed audio, and even a QLED "MoodRoof" for the cabin interior.

Samsung bought Harman International in March of 2017 in an US$8 billion merger that made Harman a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. The showcase at CES is meant to illustrate how the two companies are working together, combining resources and know-how to reinvent the digital cockpit, bring a new 5G telematics solution to the industry, and build an ecosystem of partners and solutions to build on the Samsung autonomous vehicle platform. Harman is also displaying a unique entertainment and "moodscape" experience.

The goal, says Harman President and CEO Dinesh Paliwal, is to "help automakers focus on the car's evolution from device-centric to experience centric."

Digital Cockpit

The new Digital Cockpit platform is a direct result of the merging of Harman's knowledge of the automotive landscape and Samsung's electronics expertise. Coming in standard and advanced system configurations, the platform is designed to integrate the instrument cluster with the center console in a single, centralized screen group through the use of voice control, haptic feedback, and physical knobs (including steering wheel controls). Multiple items can be controlled through the system, including heating and air conditioning as well as media. Multiple user profiles can also be used to customize the in-car experience.

The system relies on smartphone connectivity for many services, lightening the weight of the vehicle and reducing manufacturer requirements. A multi-display layout, based on Harman's Ignite Platform, can virtually turn the entire dashboard into a screen, allowing both the driver and front passenger to have personalized experiences. Services such as virtual personal assistance, subscription services (including streaming apps), augmented reality, and more can be included. The system also supports the Android operating system being integrated on four displays.

Samsung says the Digital Cockpit platform is scalable to make it an option in every automotive segment

Drvline autonomous platform

In addition to plans to deliver an industry-first 5G-ready automotive telematics solution, Samsung also announced the Drvline platform, an open modular platform for autonomous driving. Drvline is designed to scale autonomous driving from level 3 automation up to levels 4 and 5. The improved computing and control power needed for this leveling up requires high-end artificial intelligence on high-performance computing platforms alongside high-speed connectivity.

The Harman/Samsung system is an automated driving assistance package using a forward-facing camera, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, and pedestrian warning algorithms and combines Harman's ADAS 360 with Samsung's camera technologies. It also blends machine-learning with augmented reality to create a self-learning "virtual co-passenger" so the vehicle can learn to drive itself in everyday situations encountered by the vehicle's owner.

Samsung says the Drvline system will be available this year.

Configurable Entertainment and Moodscape

Harman has used its new AudioworX platform to personalize the experience within the vehicle for every passenger on both single and multiple occasions – even in shared vehicles, vehicles-for-hire, and in tomorrow's automated ride-sharing and shared ownership platforms. The new system is, in fact, targeted towards services such as Uber and Lyft.

The software-based Configurable Entertainment system allows in-car brand and entertainment systems for multiple cars, putting companies like Uber in charge of the ride-for-hire experience not only through scheduling and payment, but also for in-car experience and entertainment. Passengers would then be able to have similar experiences when getting a ride in regards to in-car entertainment, such as audio, video, or even in-vehicle gaming.

Automakers can also use the platform to personalize or further brand vehicles to create "brand experiences" or individualized passenger experiences in the same way.

The configurables in the vehicle that allow this to happen are shape-shifting speakers, unique design elements, and adaptable audio EQs. The speakers in the vehicle can transform to provide different sounds, no matter the audio brand powering the sound, and can add visual elements to the sound through light. Logos and speaker grilles can be customized to the audio brand, and can change in real-time to match the experience being requested. These changes would be accompanied by changes in the sound quality and mixing, making the sound system equivalent to varied audio makes like Bose, Harman Kardon, or others.

The final product is, Harman promises, the ability to leverage the sound system by varied audio providers and tailor it to the vehicle's occupants.

From there, Harman adds the Moodscape. This is a combination of a Music Motivator, Personalized Audio Alerts, and a QLED MoodRoof. The Music Motivator is a personal calendar synchronization option that identifies where the passenger is headed and creates a sound experience to match that destination. A person headed for a high-powered board meeting, for example, might want to feel pumped up upon arrival. Someone heading home from the gym after a workout might want to begin relaxing.

Added to that would be Personalized Audio Alerts that can be made unique to the driver or passenger so that navigation prompts, traffic or weather incidents, and other items can be relayed through directional audio.

From there, things get a bit funkier. Harman has designed a QLED MoodRoof that can synchronize with the Music Motivator to create a visual experience on the car's interior roof. Think of it as like those picture displays put on the ceiling above the dentist's chair, but subtract the occasional sharp, scary-looking stainless steel tool coming into view and add audio-synced movement to the deal.

You can check out a demonstration of the MoodRoof in the video below.

Sources: Samsung, Harman

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