“Today's higher-end automobiles are typically networked vehicles,” says Stone. “There are numerous processors within the vehicles, for braking, fuel and traction controls, audio and navigation functions, and the processors are available on a network, which enables a network solution to elements on the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, we're converging all those different kinds of data so the driver can manage all those systems.”
Stone says what has been lacking are “very highly integrated turn-key solutions from a single supplier.”
Garmin's turnkey K2 has been incubating for a decade. “We've been working with various automotive and even motorcycle [original equipment manufacturers] for 10 years now,” says Stone. “We have been learning as we go along. We have had niche product wins, and our product has been evolving.” Niche wins include navigation systems that were dealer-installed options rather than forward-fit, the path for K2.
Stone says human-factors design will be a key element of K2, with the company leveraging customer experience with technologies such as speech recognition, already being used by millions of customers largely in the automotive sector. “To learn from field experience just from aviation would take very long,” says Stone.
Garmin has not yet announced a launch customer for K2, but Stone says the market is “primed” for the product. “We're seeing levels of integration increasing over the past 10-15 years, and we believe the market to be pretty prime to take it to the next step. There were 7-8-inch displays in the dashboard 10 years ago for only the largest luxury vehicles. Now we're seeing [those displays] in the lower end. To take this to 10-12-inch technology, consumers will react to that pretty well.”
Stone says high volumes for sales in the automotive sector will be boons for the adjoining sectors, including aviation, because of Garmin's common procurement strategies and the ability to get preferential treatment from suppliers.