Startup companies at CES and Automobility LA

At the top ten technologies at the Los Angeles Auto Show and Automobility LA, there were some start-up technologies that stood out, and some that will be at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Cities continue to grow and face more challenges with traffic congestion, pedestrian safety and infrastructure planning and production. These technologies bring that goal closer on a connected car, car to infrastructure level. These are some of my favorite new start-up companies.

What3words (w3w) – Hyde Park Corner

In the hot new Netflix series The Crown, upon finding out about King George VI’s death, Winston Churchill instructed people to say Hyde Park Corner. Churchill said that the people would know what it meant.

If you put Hyde Park Corner in the search function of What3words, it will bring up a couple of different places in Hyde Park, which is about the size of Central Park in New York. But you can click on one of the boxes in the app of What3words and text the person you want to meet, and they will be able to find you. It is a breakthrough in both mapping and automated vehicle technology.

This app will be available on Mercedes-Benz vehicles next year. The luxury car manufacturer has built more high technology into their vehicles by installing the what3words into their next-generation infotainment system launching next year. Drivers can use voice commands or type 3 words to pinpoint an exact destination anywhere in the world. The best example is genau.freundin.tagebuch (which would translate to exactly girlfriend diary) would lead you to the 3m x 3m at the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant entrance in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim.

Mercedes-Benz is excited by the addition of W3W, “The benefits for Mercedes-Benz customers are clear: 3-word addresses are more reliable than street addresses or postcodes, allowing drivers to navigate with precision to a specific building entrance or car park. They also cover the entire world, and can be used to drive to parks, beaches, and pop-up markets – so drivers can enjoy the range of urban and rural spaces that don’t have fixed street addresses at all.”

‘Traditional street addresses just were not built for voice input’ said Chris Sheldrick, CEO, and co-founder of what3words. ‘15 Ammanford Road and 50 Ammanford Road are hard for a voice system to distinguish between, and many house names and road names aren’t unique. There are 14 different Church Roads in London, and 632 Juarez streets in Mexico City. Street addresses also use thousands of non-dictionary words, the pronunciation of which can be near impossible to guess. The town of Godmanchester is pronounced ‘Gumster.’ Mercedes-Benz is known for innovation, so it’s no surprise to us that it is the first automotive company to integrate our system into their vehicles’.

The geocoding system has mapped the world into 57 trillion three meters by three-meter square (ten feet by ten feet). Each square has been given three dictionary words that are easily recognizable by SIRI. Even when there isn’t a street address or the NAV system misses your intended address by a whole block What3words has a surprisingly simple and efficient way to get you to your intended destination.

When a driver enters a 3-word address by text or voice, the what3words backend technology converts it to a coordinate. The car then routes the vehicle or person to the exact location using its in-built mapping and navigation system. what3words can be accessed in 14 languages, with more in development, allowing people to say a 3-word address in their native tongue to enter their destination.

The fun part? Put your address in the app and see what three words the app says are at your front door.

WayRay

WayRay, located in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Swiss-based holographic augmented reality (AR) company, was selected as the grand prize winner of the Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition for 2017 presented by Magna International, Inc. at the Los Angeles Auto Show and Automobility LA.

These startups were chosen based on the potential to significantly impact the transportation and mobility needs from both a consumer and business perspective.

WayRay will be at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unveiling the True Augmented Reality car navigation system. WayRay will demonstrate the new multicolored version of the world’s first holographic Augmented Reality (AR) Infotainment system to car companies. The display device is designed to transform the windshield into a new medium of information with the greatest field of view (FOV) on the market.

Based on the holographic technology WayRay will be able to bring this built-in multi-colored augmented reality holographic display with a wide field of view to the used car market.

WayRay beat out the following startups:

Cerebri AI
EV Safe Charge
GhostWave
GoKid
Innoviz Technologies, Ltd.
Mighty AI
Neteera Technologies, Ltd.
Ridecell
SPLT

Innoviz

I thought for sure Innoviz would be the winner of the Top Ten competition. As long as I have been following advanced technology one of the pieces talked about the most was the size and cost of the Lidar.

Innoviz Technologies develops cutting-edge LiDAR remote sensing solutions to enable the mass commercialization of autonomous vehicles. The company’s LiDAR products, InnovizOne and InnovizPro, offer a design that delivers superior performance at affordable costs and the reduced sizes necessary for mass market adoption.

The company was founded in Israel in January 2016 by a dream team of former members of the elite technological unit for the Israeli Defense Forces. This group is world-renowned for expertise in the fields of electro-optics, computer vision, signal processing, and MEMS design.

Analog in a digital world

Analog Devices Drive360 is not a start-up company. It’s been around so long that the name of the company is almost irrelevant in today’s digital world. But to change the name now would cause confusion.

In olden times (see what I’m doing here?) automobile sensors were capable of a meter resolution.

Analog’s digital RF CMOS chips can detect whether an object is a person, bicycle or oncoming vehicle and determine the speed of an object in seven-centimeter resolution. The person, or vehicle, is colored by the rate of speed they are moving.

Who you gonna call? Ghostwaves

I remember being at the headquarters of a German car company and they were showing us some of the new technology they were working on due to radio interference. One of the deciding factors in implementation was the cost. We talked about interference between radio frequencies. At the time that company was producing a shield to go over the radars, but they couldn’t get the price under twenty-five cents a cap. It’s hard to justify extra expense on a car on pieces people can’t see.

Ohio-based Ghostwaves is focused on the here and now. Ghostwaves has two strategic technologies that compliment ADAS radars. The first is immunity from mutual interference. Think waves of frequencies that you don’t see, that are ghosts riding through the air, sort of like Casper, the friendly ghost. Except those waves hit your car and interfere with your reception. GhostWave’s patented technology is a radio frequency (RF) Noise radar system that will support Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and collision avoidance without being impacted by jamming or interference from electronic devices. The second technology is a vehicle obstacle warning radar. GhostWave’s radars can tell the difference between high priority (pedestrians, animals, trashcans, etc.) and low priority (potholes curbs) objects.

This technology was developed for the U.S. Army by Ohio State University to detect soldiers in harm’s way. They are building a 24GHZ model that should be done soon. OEMs and auto suppliers are watching.

Whether it is automotive technology, augmented reality, virtual reality, smart home solutions, entertainment technology or audio products at CES, it will be there, and we will be covering it.

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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 founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and the Concept Car of the Year, and former member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year #NACTOY. She is a guest contributor for Via Corsa magazine and Vicarious magazine.

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