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How far we’ve come

John Day

John Day

Posted Sep 20, 2013

While doing research for a book on automotive electronics reliability I had the privilege of interviewing a couple of industry pioneers who told me about the first microprocessors in cars and how difficult it was back then to convince car company executives of the value of electronics technology. (If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll share more of that.)

I was repeatedly reminded of those interviews yesterday during presentations at IESF Detroit, starting with Oliver Kuttner’s (Edison 2) keynote. He talked about some of the ways in which the automotive industry has changed, and about the new opportunities those changes now make possible. His company won the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize, and he described how automakers can leverage the cutting edge technology in that car.

He was followed by Paul Hansen, publisher of the Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics, who talked about the GENIVI Alliance (Linux-based open source software for in-vehicle infotainment), active safety, driver distraction, and automated driving.

After the first two keynote talks the more than 900 engineers and software developers who attended the 13th annual one-day event went off in five directions to hear and react to presentations on a variety of hardware, software, and system topics.

The ones I heard included a strategy for low-cost, low-volume mixed-signal device development (Triad Semiconductor), and an overview of Ford’s developer program by John Ellis, a dynamic “software guy” who insists he is not an “auto guy,” but I wonder if he isn’t one by default given the monumental growth in the number of lines of software code in cars. Can a Mercedes really contain 65 million?

There was much more to IESF as you well know if you attended. The Integrated Electrical Solutions Forum presents great learning opportunities and great networking opportunities. If you were there, share some of your experiences. What impressed you most?

The net for me – or one of them – is how far we’ve come, but also, how far we still have to go.

Ford, IESF Detroit, Edison 2, The Hansen Report on Automotive Eelctronics, Triad Semiconductor, Mercedes, Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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