SAN FRANCISCO--Automotive makers in western markets and emerging
markets are driven by vastly different electronics needs that
engineers need to understand soon or risk losing designs, according
to an executive with the Indian IT giant Mahindra Satyam.
Karthikeyan (Karthik) Natarajan, senior vice president and global
head of the company's Integrated Engineering Solutions group, said
in an interview that western markets "behave completely differently"
from emerging markets.
Mahindra Satyam works with automotive makers and telco providers to
build out the infrastructure for connected cars and trucks, and so
pictured nearby) has a unique perspective on design engineering challenges.
"It's not just price point but utility of what you're trying to
connect," he said.
Even in more established markets like Europe and North Amerca, the
engineering objectives can diverge, he said. North American auto
makers are still focused on the front end of the connected car
experience, whereas European automakers are very interested in the
"Assume you are connected, what data do you transfer? Is
the back-end system ready for rapid ramp of cars sales?" Natarajan
Western markets are moving into connected-car systems that integrate
vehicle disagonistics, the health and awareness of the driver, and
preventing (and in some cases predicting) accidents.
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"If western markets are driven by data, emerging markets driven by
voice," Natarajan said. There, it's a cost challenge but also a
utility issue. Much driving doesn't doesn't get above 60 kmph in
emerging markets. "What is the biggest thing they want? Voice
technology." This is putting a premium on speech-to-text technology,
In the west, some integrated services will begin to emerge, such as
health care and diagnostics. "The cloud will play a much bigger
role… with a lot of predictive analytics and big data," Natarajan said.
Who's driving the designs? "The tier ones are smart (but) regional
players will spark this faster than other companies," he said,
noting that two of the five Indian automotive OEMs have stopped
putting CD players in their vehicles, opting instead to leverage
smart phones and other connected devices.
"Innovation is at a certain cost. These are very, very
price-sensitive consumers," Natarajan said.
Natarajan's comments came after Mahindra Satyam in September
the first phase of its "Connected Vehicle Concept"
project that, using MirrorLink
technology, allows users to connect smart phones to their vehicles
and then leverage phone applications, such as navigation, through
Phase two of the project, slated for March 2013, will add cloud
services with an integrated app store, voice recognition and text to
speech. And phase three R&D is focusing on gesture recognition,
medical gateway and smart grid gateway concepts, Natarajan said.
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