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Real-time information is making connected onboard safety systems more intelligent – creating what is known as the “safety eco-sphere”.

“Clarion is working to improve the reliability of Intelligent Safety by incorporating increasingly accurate and even more diverse image information through various technologies. These include ultra-wide angle lenses for an expanded field of vision, algorithm development and the application of sensor elements to provide a more natural image in harsh lighting environments, such as at night or when there is strong backlighting,” says Paul S. Lachner, President of Clarion Corporation of America.

The 75-year-old company is one of the leading sources for delivering in-vehicle infotainment and safety solutions. These include products that feature cloud connectivity platforms, apps, special content and real-time information monitoring and analysis. Clarion has developed the “Smart Access”

cloud-based information platform for vehicles, which provides people with the added value of connectivity and enhances the appeal of in-vehicle information solutions.

In a nutshell, Smart Access is a secure portal to the cloud designed specifically for vehicles. The platform is highly customizable, which allows OEMs to personalize it through their own selection of applications and services. Included in the system is Clarion’s Intelligent VOICE, which integrates the company’s noise suppression pre-processing with Google Voice Recognition Technology. Smart Access and Intelligent VOICE are connected to Clarion’s larger technology umbrella known internally at Clarion as “Intelligent Safety” systems. Through Intelligent Safety technologies, the company is developing ways of using image processing and image recognition technologies in applications such as back-up vision, lane departure detection, collision avoidance systems and automatic parking.

The power of the cloud is combined with Clarion’s “Overhead View Monitor,” which provides a 360-degree view around the vehicle, together with sensing systems to alert the driver of approaching pedestrians and cars. “We are also devoting our efforts to enhancing camera products, which are the foundation of Intelligent Safety Systems,” says Lachner.

Automotive Industries asked Allen H. Gharapetian, Vice President of Marketing and Product Planning at Clarion Corporation of America, what has been Clarion’s strategy in the intelligent safety eco-sphere.

Gharapetian: Clarion has committed a great deal of the company’s resources and R&D to design and develop Intelligent Safety systems that are not just innovative, but are able to deliver consistently reliable operation and allow for cost effective deployment in a wide range of vehicles. Expanding on the latter, our strategy is heavily influenced by the fact that, although our OEM customers always expect high performance systems from us, they also look for Clarion to bring them a cost-effective solution.

Keeping that in mind, we have invested significantly in developing vision-based safety systems which tend to bring more to the market for less. Vision-based systems provide an added advantage as they have the ability to not just “detect” objects, but also allow the safety systems to intelligently react to the detected objects. All our efforts in this space ultimately allow us to deliver upon our goal of providing better, more “intelligent” safety solutions to our customers.

AI: How do your intelligent safety devices benefit from always-on connectivity and how difficult is it to maintain that connectivity?

Gharapetian: Reacting “intelligently” to the environment inside or outside the vehicle, especially when the vehicle is in motion, benefits greatly when the systems responsible for assuring our safety and comfort are connected to a cloud-based network. To explain a bit further, an always-connected system adapts better to the conditions that the vehicle and the driver are facing when it has access to the latest available data, some of which could be just micro-seconds old. Maintaining always-on connectivity as the vehicle is on the move is easier said than done, though. Clarion has some of the most reliable systems and platforms available in the market today, but we also rely on equally robust connectivity networks that we have helped develop. As such, Clarion and its affiliates have a vertical integration advantage which allows for more reliable connectivity and data analysis no matter where the vehicle travels.

AI: What are some of the challenges in evolving more sophisticated ADAS features while keeping costs down?

Gharapetian: Reliability, ease of use, and cost effectiveness of ADAS technologies are sought-after attributes that are critical both from the carmakers’ perspective as well as the consumers’. As designers and providers of such systems, all three attributes pose varying types of challenges to us, but none are impossible to overcome. Clarion systems are known for their iron-clad reliability and longevity. We are also very aware of HMI and ergonomics factors when it comes to the end-user experience. Both of the last two benefit greatly from 75 years of doing what we have been doing in the automotive space. Cost effectiveness presents its own set of challenges as, normally, low cost does not go hand-in-hand with performance and reliability. However, the advantage we have when facing that challenge is that we design systems from the ground-up and in cooperation with our OEM customers so, in the end, our products do more things, do those things better, and offer more significant levels of integration which ultimately saves cost and deployment hassles.

AI: How will your ADAS expertise impact technologies for the connected car?

Gharapetian: Connectivity opens up great opportunities for ADAS technologies to expand beyond the vehicle’s immediate environment and help pave the path forward for autonomous cars to become a reality. That means that ADAS will contribute to V2V, V2I and other evolving communication networks in the near to mid-term future and then assume even a larger role in the long run. Given our leadership role today for in-vehicle connectivity, our know-how, as well as our field experience gained from our existing ADAS technologies in the market, we are in a uniquely favorable position to connect the dots and shape the future.

AI: What are some of the highlights of Clarion’s 75th year anniversary? What are some of the upcoming product roll-outs?

Gharapetian: Milestones are always exciting so we are quite excited about celebrating our 75th Anniversary. They are also great times to reflect upon the past and contemplate the future. To share our excitement with the industry and consumers alike, we launched a short 5-minute 75th Anniversary video (which I think is available on your website) at the beginning of the year that summed up our past 75 years of success in this business in a fun but concise way.

We have also initiated a number of internal programs to develop Clarion’s spirit and culture further for the next generation of our employees and customers. Product-wise, we’ll be launching a collection of new aftermarket products for the 2016 model year that will not just be high performance but quite innovative and revolutionary in design. And, in the OEM world, we are working harder than ever to expand our role into a full-scale in-vehicle infotainment solutions provider to serve our customers in even a more integrated fashion

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