LG said to supply gesture-reading system for Mercedes-Benz

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 22, 2019.
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SEOUL: LG Electronics Co is the supplier for a Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz model that will feature a motion-detection system that can read a driver’s gestures in order to control some automobile functions, people with knowledge of the matter said.

A camera installed in the car ceiling will read the driver’s hand gestures, letting them control tasks such as turning on cruise control and adjusting music volume. Ultimately, LG envisions a system that can perform more complex functions such as shifting gears, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is not yet public.

BMW has already deployed a similar system in its 7 Series sedans, using technology from Softkinetic Systems, which was later bought by Sony Corp.  A Jan 8 news release by Mercedes-Benz from CES in Las Vegas showcased a new feature called MBUX Interior Assist, which lets occupants of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupe control functions with gestures.

The ability to detect pedestrians and read traffic signs has also been deployed by several carmakers; such advanced driver assistance systems are building blocks for fully autonomous vehicles that can fundamentally change the way people ride in cars in the future.

LG is also working on a driver-assistance system, which it aims to supply to Daimler later this year or in early 2020. Delivery was initially set for later this year, but was being delayed because the South Korean company had trouble acquiring the necessary chips, one of the people said.

LG is a member of a South Korean conglomerate that has been stepping up efforts to supply car components, from electronic batteries to digital dashboards. 

LG competes with Intel Corp’s Mobileye and Harman, a unit of Samsung Electronics Co, in the driver-assistance market, which is expected to expand to US$67 billion (RM275.54 billion) by 2025 according to Grand View Research.

The Seoul-based company is seeking new sources of profit as its mobile phone and consumer electronics sales shrink in saturated markets. LG said earlier this month that its fourth-quarter operating profit fell 80% to 75.3 billion won (RM309.79 million), compared with the 389 billion won average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg — Bloomberg