Intel wants to put a cloud in your car

Intel’s venture capital arm has set up a $100 million fund to invest in “connected car” cloud-based technology.

Staci Palmer, general manager of Intel’s Automotive Solutions Division, said that the car is the ultimate mobile device and has the advantage that there is plenty of space in which to stick new gadgets.

The Intel Capital Connected Car Fund will make investments in companies around the world that develop hardware, software and services to help cars connect with computers and mobile devices over the next four years.

Among the areas in which the new fund will invest are in-vehicle infotainment systems and apps, advanced driver-assistance systems such as GPS and night vision, and capabilities including speech and gesture recognition and eye tracking.

Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini announced in Karlsruhe, Germany, that the company is opening a new automotive product development centre. The Karlsruhe centre is the latest member of Intel Labs Europe, its European network of R&D labs, but this appears to be the first for the automotive sector.

The site has a secured car park that provides an on-site location for Intel to install and test developments. Additional features at the site include state-of-the-art instrumentation, a myriad of antennae to provide satellite, TV, digital video and GPS for development and testing. It is also handy to the local universities who will be called on to come up with new ideas.

Otellini said that the PC touches every part of consumers’ daily lives while at home, at the office and on the road. By broadening Intel’s research efforts, academic and capital investments and opening the Automotive Innovation and Product Development Centre, Intel is deepening its understanding of how people interact with their cars, he said. Normally any interaction with cars involves swearing and thumping the steering wheel.