From car phone to phone car

opinion March 19, 2018 01:00

By Suwichai Songwanich
Chief executive officer,
bangkok bank (China)

Every now and again something comes along to show us how far our technology has advanced. For me, it was watching Huawei’s recent demonstration of its Mate 10 Pro phone driving a Porsche Panamera.

This was a new twist to the development of driverless vehicles and their integration with other technology platforms. SAIC’s Thailand launch of its MG ZS car late last year was a solid example of the kind of technology integration we are seeing in the auto sector. 

The MG ZS includes a connected drive feature that enables a mobile phone to augment the driving experience, including supporting Thai voice commands from the driver.

While SAIC’s achievements are laudable, Huawei took us to another level with its spectacle at the Mobile World Congress in Spain a few weeks ago, which demonstrated the AI prowess of its Kirin 970 chip.

The Kirin 970 chip powered all the real-time image processing and recognition, using this to make driving decisions. 

Passengers in the driverless Porsche included tech and motoring journalists as it drove around a carpark, negotiating different obstacles, such as cardboard cutouts of people and dogs, as well as footballs, that were placed in its path.

This technology is not yet available to consumers. In fact, Huawei is not even commercially developing this particular platform. That is why I was so impressed by the extent to which Huawei was prepared to go to showcase its AI capabilities. 

They were not only innovative in the development of their technology, but in how they presented it.

Real innovators show us possibilities of how things could be, which often means reimagining tools or concepts that we use in our everyday lives. 

Huawei took the concept of the car phone – a technology that was so large and cumbersome when it was launched more than three decades ago that you literally needed a car to transport it – and transformed it into a phone-car — a device small enough to fit in your pocket but powerful enough to drive your Porsche.

Huawei has helped us all by opening a door into a realm of new technological possibilities. I can’t wait to see the fantastic ideas that innovators around the world come up with as they explore other new frontiers.

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