Microsoft has agreed to license its patents for Internet-connected cars to Toyota. The new entity, named Toyota Connect, will use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to crunch data and help develop new products for drivers, businesses with car fleets, and even dealers.
Microsoft, which announced the deal earlier this week, holds a treasure trove of patents that include car operating systems, Wi-Fi, motion sensors, voice recognition, and navigation. Cars are increasingly morphing into computers with wheels, and Microsoft sees a huge opportunity in this space, where other competitors like Google, Intel and Qualcomm are vying for market share.
Microsoft’s patents for connected cars, a broad term for vehicles with Internet connectivity, includes tools to store and transfer files, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. Microsoft says that it sees driving becoming far more personalized and convenient in the future.
Microsoft sees a big growth in demand for connected car services. Gartner Research has forecast that new vehicles equipped with data connectivity will increase from 6.9 million per year in 2015 to 61 million per year in 2020. The research firm predicts the total cumulative shipments of automobiles equipped with data connectivity will be 250 million by 2020.
While Toyota is the first automaker to get access to Microsoft’s licenses, Microsoft has worked with automakers and auto-related companies for years, including BMW, Harman, Ford, Nissan, and Volvo. Earlier this year, Volvo announced it will integrate Skype for business in its 90 Series cars, and Nissan agreed to use Microsoft’s connected vehicle platform, a set of services built on its Azure cloud.
The global auto industry is set for a big shift as more connected cars get onto our roads. The promise of connected cars, is better driving experience, reduced road accidents and less pollution to the environment. The future is here!
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