Technology developed in Israel for Harman, which designs and manufactures connected products such as audio and video systems, advanced driver assistance software (ADAS) and smart city solutions for carmakers, will be integrated by Ferrari in all future vehicle lines – including, starting this year, cars built for Formula 1 races.
Harman, a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, says the multi-year partnership is as important to Ferrari as the actual nuts and bolts of a vehicle’s mechanics.
“If in the past the vehicle’s driving system was a differentiating factor for automobile brands, today one of the key differentiating factors is the experience inside the driver’s cabin,” says Michal Geva, CEO of Harman Israel, where much of the company’s automotive software is developed.
Among the tools Harman will bring to Ferrari is the “Harman Ready Upgrade,” which delivers driver- and passenger-centric experiences wirelessly through “over-the-air updates,” similar to smartphone updates.
“Ready Upgrade turns the car into a modern electronic device that can be updated and customized with new features and services at any time… all without special investment in dedicated software development,” Harman noted in a release.
Geva adds: “The expectations of car buyers – especially luxury cars – have changed dramatically. Today you buy a smartphone for a thousand dollars and then you buy a car that is, at best, a hundred times more expensive and you expect it to be at least as smart as your phone and provide the same dynamic experience that you have with the mobile.”
In the past, it was the drive system of the vehicle that was important – “components such as the engine, transmission, axels, etc.,” Geva says.
But now, “we can offer experiences based on sound and video as well as connectivity that bring tons of content into the car. The team here in Israel is playing an important role.”
Harman’s software powers billions of mobile systems and devices. The company employs over 30,000 people worldwide including in Israel.
Harman, which recently purchased Israeli vehicle cyber protection startup TowerSec, was acquired by Samsung for $8 billion in 2017.