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Israeli Emmy-winning cable tech takes to the road

GM, Mercedes announce they will integrate Valens connectivity technology into vehicles’ infotainment systems

Illustrative photo of a Mercedes (CC BY, M93, Wikipedia)
Illustrative photo of a Mercedes (CC BY, M93, Wikipedia)

Israeli video tech company Valens is getting into the automobile business, after it announced Wednesday that two of the biggest automakers — GM and Mercedes — had become its newest customers. In addition, the firm said that it had received $20 million of investments in a new funding round, which will be used to expand development activity and recruit more employees at its development center in Hod Hasharon.

Valens is the creator, developer and sole source of HDbaseT, a technology that enables the transmission of high-quality uncompressed video, electricity, USB power and just about everything else on a single cable.

It’s a technology that has turned into a world standard, according to Valens senior vice-president Micha Risling. “Modern video production would be much harder, if not impossible,” he added.

The television business agrees with that assessment, which is why it is giving Valens an Emmy Award this year for Achievement in the area of Engineering. According to Bob Mauro, President of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Valens is “one of the reasons for the exciting growth of our industry.”

Sketch shows how HDBaseT technology could be incorporated into vehicles (HDBaseT Alliance)
Sketch shows how HDBaseT technology could be incorporated into vehicles (HDBaseT Alliance)

The company is one of dozens of Israeli tech firms showing off their wares this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and it was there that automotive industry giants Daimler AG, makers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, American vehicle manufacturing leader General Motors, and Delphi Automotive, the world’s biggest aftermarket supplier of car parts, announced that they would be integrating HDBaseT technology into their vehicles and products.

 

The reason the car companies are moving to HDBaseT, they said, are the same reasons the TV industry has adopted it as a standard. HDBaseT allows the transmission of communications and power on a single Ethernet-type twisted-pair cable, eliminating the need for multiple cables to carry Bluetooth, USB, electricity, network signals and other elements.

The companies intend to use HDBaseT for their new infotainment systems. According to the companies, the system allows for more data to be pushed more quickly, eliminating waiting time for the display of apps, videos and other content, as well as enabling a smoother networking experience by allowing the implementation of low-cost and low-latency Ethernet networking in vehicles.

While eliminating a few seconds in accessing music on a car entertainment system is nice, the real benefit of HDBaseT will be to allow car safety systems to react more quickly and efficiently, according to the companies. With Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) — which includes cameras and sensors that check for road hazards and potential collisions — companies are seeking to add features, such as additional sensors, that will detect upcoming road hazards like potholes.

The more services the ADAS systems provide, the greater the bandwidth needed to transfer and translate data into information the driver can use – and HDBaseT is the technology to accomplish that, the companies said.

With their adoption of HDBaseT, the auto firms will be joining the HDBaseT Alliance, a group that counts among its members over 150 of the world’s largest electronics, video, networking, software, cable, and now automotive, companies. The Alliance was established by Valens to “promote and standardize HDBaseT technology for whole-home and commercial distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia,” according to the group.

With the addition of the auto firms to the Alliance, said president Ariel Sobelman, the technology can help meet the challenges faced today by in-vehicle connectivity infrastructure, and bring simplicity, less cables and lower costs to the sector. “With HDBaseT Automotive, we expect to replicate our success in the audiovisual sphere for a game-changing development in the automotive market,” he said.

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