Intel is investing 100 million dlrs in companies that are developing automotive applications.
The US-based semiconductor group said its Intel Capital investment unit will support a range of hardware, software and services companies developing in-vehicle applications as well as car connectivity solutions.
The move shows that Intel is recognizing the growth potential of IT in the automotive sector.
Staci Palmer, general manager of Intel's Automotive Solutions division, predicted that cars will be among the top-three fastest growth areas for connected devices and internet content by 2014. Intel's experience could help bring "a new level of innovation" to in-car IT, Palmer said, adding that "the car is the ultimate mobile device."
Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital, said in a statement that his company's investments aim to enhance the in-car computing experience and make it safe. Consumers, he said, are "demanding uninterrupted access to the Internet and the constant flow of information, news, entertainment, and social media."
The Intel Capital Connected Car Fund, as the new investment vehicle is called, will focus on technologies advancing in-vehicle infotainment, advanced driver assistance systems and seamless mobile connectivity. Intel cited in particular the potential of multimodal capabilities such as speech recognition and eye-tracking for the connected car.
Underscoring the importance Intel attaches to the auto industry, CEO Paul Otellini last week opened a new global Automotive Innovation Innovation and Product Development Center in Karlsruhe, Germany. The facility will serve as Intel's global center of competence for in-vehicle infotainment and telematics solutions for the connected car.
"In today's mobile world, personal computing touches every part of consumers' daily lives while at home, at the office and on the road," Otellini said. He added that Intel's stepped up automotive activities will deepen its understanding of how people interact with their cars.
Part of that enhanced understanding will come from an expansion of activities in the Intel Labs Interaction and Experience Research.
Intel is also collaborating with Japanese supplier Denso in research on next-generation in-vehicle information and communication systems.
-By Arjen Bongard