Samsung, which sells almost one of every three smartphones, wants to parlay that technology into automotive navigation and entertainment systems for an industry that makes more than 80 million vehicles a year.
Asia’s biggest technology company is pushing beyond the hardware that underpinned its growth as global demand weakens for high-end handsets. Samsung is attending the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week along with a record nine carmakers, including Audi or GM.
Businesses that reach from batteries and household appliances to memory chips, cameras and liquid-crystal displays provide components the Suwon, South Korea-based company can use inside automobiles. Samsung is partnering with Intel on open-source software called Tizen that can run smartphones, tablets, TVs and car systems, and has garnered interest from automakers including Toyota, the world’s biggest.
Among the applications analysts expects in the future from Samsung are windows made of transparent flat-panels that provide map displays and other information for people inside the car while still enabling full visibility. It also may use sensors to monitor passengers’ health, to select music to match a driver’s mood and to analyze traffic and suggest a better route.
Although Samsung declined to comment on its plans for the car sector, President Hong Won-Pyo said last year in October that the company is open to collaborations with automakers that could expand to include entertainment and navigation.
Autos are set to be in the spotlight this year at CES, as carmakers look to catch consumer attention with new gadgetry in the cabins of their vehicles. Last year, more than 11,000 of the 150,000 attendees at the show described themselves as being in the automotive electronics business.
Samsung faces competition from chipmakers such as Qualcomm, whose radio chips are part of GM’s Onstar service, and Nvidia, which supplies the processors for Tesla and Volkswagen AG’s Lamborghini vehicles. Intel, the largest maker of personal-computer processors, supplies Tata Motors Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai.