BLOG: How mobile tech is driving the car industry

Nvidia's Danny Shapiro says technology will have a bigger impact in cars
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Danny Shapiro, Senior Director of Automotive at Nvidia, explains how mobile technology is playing a bigger part in the car industry.

Every few years a gadget comes along that takes Silicon Valley by storm, before going on to conquer the world. A few years ago it was the tablet. Before that it was the smartphone. Now, we’re in love with something new – a car. Specifically, the new Tesla Model S.

Sure, it has four wheels and four doors, but this is no ordinary automobile. Slip behind the wheel and rather than be greeted with traditional analog dials and gauges, a high-resolution digital display puts the car’s speed, range, audio controls, trip information, and more in front of the driver in clear, crisp colour.

Instead of a centre stack cluttered with plastic nobs and switches, the Tesla model has a 17-inch touch screen ready to provide everything from directions, courtesy of Google, to the controls you need to adjust the sunroof.

The Tesla Model S is only one example of what’s already on the road, as automakers pour technology from the world's smartphones and tablets into automobiles.

But while the digital devices are radically changing consumers’ expectations, automakers don’t have to remake their cars at the same frenetic pace we’re seeing in smartphones and tablets.

Instead, automakers are taking advantage of innovations such as our Visual Computing Module (VCM). By separating the systems that don't change that frequently (i.e. CAN bus or Wifi) from those that do (i.e. mobile application processor and memory density), a modular design enabled by VCM will speed innovation to market faster, without having to build an entire system from scratch each model year.

And there’s much more coming – our new Tegra K1 processor unlocks a new generation of visual computing technologies, such as pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and collision avoidance. Combine these technologies and you're looking at autonomous driving…

The challenge has always been to bring the cost and complexity of these systems down far enough to put them within reach of everyday drivers. Nvidia is in a unique position with its existing smartphone and tablet customers as well as solid automotive customers. We are therefore able to innovate on both market fronts simultaneously and keep costs lower by leveraging the vast economies of scale present in the mobile space, due to the hundreds of millions of units produced.

Leveraging greater processing power and richer graphics, new in-vehicle experiences will make the cars seen in sci-fi thrillers at the cinema, seem quaint.

About the author

Danny Shapiro is Senior Director of Automotive at Nvidia.

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