Samsung buys Harman for connecting in cars

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When you go to car.harman.com a segmented car starts breathing; one section at a time the car pulses. If you click on the cloud that hovers over the car, cyber security information comes up. Each group talks about a part of the connected car; data exchange, navigation, the cloud, connectivity, apps, connected interface, voice recognition, climate control, driver profiles, displays, device integration, connected systems, media, tuners, and of course, audio systems.

It’s part of the reason Samsung Electronics acquired Harman International Industries, Incorporated, for $112.00 per share in cash! a total equity value of approximately $8.0 billion. This acquisition gives Samsung a global presence in connected car solutions with thousands of patents, a step to becoming the market leader in connected car solutions.

The world is adding around 90,000,000 cars a year to the highways and byways of the globe. Some luxury cars already meet Level 1 of connected cars, but the rest of the cars on the road do not. We will have to wait for another ten to fifteen years before connected cars start showing up in big numbers. In the design, construction and implementation world that Samsung and Harman play in connected cars are only a couple car generations away.

Samsung leapfrogged into the global connected car business with the purchase of the 70-year old Harman company. Harman is embedded in many cars through audio systems; incorporating its connected car technology in those cars will be easier.

When the acquisition of the auto and audio company is completed in mid-2017, the Korean company becomes a major player in the connected car, working with 35 global auto brands worldwide, and over 25 million vehicles currently equipped with its connected car technology and audio and sound management systems. Add to that 15,000 software designers and engineers that work on the internet of things to create the next generation of cloud-based everything from designing the automotive market and enterprises to consumer electronics and mobile devices.

What does Harman, the stand-alone subsidiary of Samsung get out of the deal? “Partnerships and scale are essential to winning over the long term in automotive as demand for robust connected car and autonomous driving solutions increases at a rapid pace,” said Dinesh Paliwal, HARMAN Chairman, President, and CEO.

Harman can benefit from the processes Samsung continues to grow; home appliances, TV, and mobile phones. It’s a melody and harmony for the combined synergy of these two companies. Designing and integrating in-vehicle technologies in connected mobility, semiconductors, 5G wireless communication standard. Together the global distribution channels unite and redefine the entertainment experience into a connected internet of everything.

Most of the time we see a car stopping before hitting someone, parking without anyone in the car, but Harman took a different tack. At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Harman showed us what a connected autonomous car would feel like to the driver. We sat in a 77-speaker automobile and watched an Imax 360-surround movie on a windshield and windows that became a monitor. When a conference call came in each person’s face appeared in a different part of the windshield, or window.

In the Rinspeed vehicle, the seats in the autonomous connected car swiveled out, the person sat down, and the seat swiveled back in; the steering wheel can fold away, you can gesture with your hand what you want to watch, or if you want to converse with your friends on Facebook. The car is personalized for the car-sharing of the future, and it remembers your preferences. Of course, the sound was impeccable, but so were the images. The plan is to have some of the functionalities in cars in a couple of years, other functionalities, and technologies are further away, perhaps five years from now.

It was that ah-ha moment that allowed us to comprehend that we were able to have our freedom back and keep our privacy all while getting to our destination safely in the comfort of our connected car.

It made us feel human again, while we let the car be the robot.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.