The Honda Motor Company has always marched to the beat of its own drummer when it comes to innovation, so it was a bit of a surprise when word leaked out that Honda was looking to hook up in Silicon Valley with some new tech partners.
The company is looking to shake things up a bit and is driving toward a more open innovation mind set as it looks to shake off some of the dust it feels has been accumulating around its ability to get back to what made it a dominant player. Honda was first seen as the scrappy little brand that wanted to take on the world by being at the top of the innovation game, but has faltered lately and is now scrambling to catch up with the other auto giants who have caught the Silicon Valley flue. It’s looking for some reinvigoration in areas that include robotics, self and autonomous driving and total vehicle connectivity and its set up its own incubation lab called Xcelerator. One of the first items out of the gate from the incubator is an infotainment platform that will let people operate their smart devices through the vehicle and comes from a start up called Drivemode. The development team has built out their app that allows people’s devices to become the inside the car central computer that will let you play music, navigate and generate voice to text messages and the company claims to have over one million users already.
The plan would be for Honda engineers to develop more driver centric applications to the core technology such as steering wheel imbedded button controls, further proving the point that Honda’s objective with the Xcelerator is for it to be the conduit between the company and new and emerging technologies. Some of the other investments that the company has made include investing in VocalZoom, which creates optical sensors for machine and human communication. There’s also a start up called Leia which develops 3 D technology that is glasses free. The Honda Motor company is a bit shy on providing details on the amount its poured into some of these investments, but it believes that these types of initiatives will help bring the company back closer to its original roots of having that type of start up spirit.