Panasonic is collaborating with Google’s Android Auto and Qualcomm Inc. on an infotainment system concept. The design was revealed at CES, the industry trade show formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, on Jan. 4. The move comes after rival Samsung Electronics acquired Harman International in November, increasing its commitment to the infotainment space.
Infotainment has become an increasingly valuable business with vehicles become more connected and autonomous. Suppliers and tech companies have been jockeying for the role of occupying drivers once they no longer have to keep their eyes on the road — and this slice of the automotive industry expected to be worth $5 billion in the next few years, according to Intel.
Panasonic’s concept anticipates demand for a more flexible system. Screen sizes can be customized across vehicle models and the Android Auto software can be updated frequently over the air. The concept is based on the latest version of Android Auto and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip.
“We anticipate that this infotainment concept will be incredibly powerful, it will be adaptable, and it will shorten the lead times as well as production times and the cost upfront for your automobile,” said Tom Gebhardt, president of Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America.
The partnership with Google also gives Android Auto further control of the vehicle. The software can control air conditioning, windows, door locks and the radio, among other functions. The Android Auto software is open source, allowing automakers to add their own details and functionality. Google’s partnership with Panasonic is not exclusive.
Panasonic’s infotainment concept is also embedded in the Chrysler Portal, an electric minivan concept introduced at CES by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
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