Synaptics’ solutions impact how users interact with technology in numerous ways. It is partner of choice for the world’s most innovative intelligent system providers. Customers are combining Synaptics’ differentiated technologies in touch, display, and biometrics with a new generation of advanced connectivity and AI-enhanced video, vision, audio, speech and security processing.
Sanjay Saha, India Country Manager, Synaptics, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: How is Synaptics rethinking and accelerating the journey from concept to cabin?
Sanjay Saha: The automotive sector in India has undergone a colossal shift in focus from merely conceptualizing and manufacturing vehicles to enhancing the overall cabin experience for users. Traditionally, Indian car buyers prioritized factors such as fuel efficiency, price, and durability. However, with changing consumer preferences, automakers have adopted a more holistic approach. This transformation involves incorporating advanced technology, connectivity features, and superior interior design to create comfortable and connected cabins for an enhanced user experience.
Consumers now expect seamless smartphone integration, intuitive infotainment systems, safety features like airbags and advanced driver-assistance systems, and high-quality materials in the cabin. Consequently, automakers are investing heavily in research and development to meet these evolving demands, which have become key differentiators in the competitive Indian automotive market.
However, in order to integrate these emerging technologies in vehicles, the makers need a robust semiconductor ecosystem. This is where semiconductor companies like us come into play. At Synaptics, we are committed to reimagining and enhancing the transformation of automotive concepts into real cabin experiences.
While European and Japanese manufacturers are embracing large, multi-functional screens that may require several chips, we understand that Indian vehicles, for instance, from companies like Tata, often feature smaller screens due to cost considerations.
At the same time, car makers are considering OLED displays for automotive, but these are more expensive than backlit LCD displays, and are not as durable over time.
In addition, we believe that touch-enabled screens remain vital in differentiating even budget-friendly vehicles in India. Our solutions are tailored to meet these diverse needs, further ensuring that these screens are efficient, user-friendly, and offer the desired touch capabilities. We understand that infotainment is becoming a critical selling point for cars, and we are here to support this evolving trend.
DQ: Please elaborate on Synaptics’ contribution to the booming EV industry in India and globally.
Sanjay Saha: Our commitment to the automotive sector aligns with the industry’s focus on electrification, autonomy, and shared mobility. In India and globally, we are at the forefront of supporting infotainment systems by developing cutting-edge chips and solutions that enhance the in-cabin experience.
Our strengths lie in display processors, touch technology, and display drivers, all of which are integral to the modern infotainment systems found in EVs. We recently introduced a series of products, including the Synaptics SmartBridge SB7900 display processor which provides superior image quality, greater system implementation flexibility, and reduced device footprint, power consumption, and complexity for displays up to 30 inches and resolutions up to 6K.
Aligning with the government’s vision for enhancing India’s role in the semiconductor company, we see great potential in nurturing IP-centric companies, particularly in the hardware sector. We are keen to see more semiconductor startups emerge in India, and we believe that fostering a startup culture will not only drive innovation but also create opportunities for us to invest and collaborate more extensively in India’s burgeoning EV and semiconductor ecosystem.
DQ: How do you envision further advancements in screens, connectivity, and safety features shaping the automotive sector?
Sanjay Saha: Further advancements in screens, connectivity, and safety features are poised to revolutionize the automotive sector in the coming years. In terms of screens, we can expect to see the proliferation of larger—pillar to pillar—and more immersive displays, transforming the dashboard into a hub for entertainment, navigation, safety, and vehicle information.
Connectivity will continue to evolve, with various forms of Wi-Fi and other technologies enabling seamless communication between vehicles, between vehicles and infrastructure, and to the cloud, facilitating real-time updates, traffic data, and remote diagnostics.
Enhanced safety features will play a crucial role in reducing accidents, with technologies like advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous driving capabilities, and improved sensor networks. Together, these advancements will not only elevate the in-cabin experience but also contribute to safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation systems, ultimately shaping the future of mobility.
In addition, our India team is constantly engaged in the development of diverse semiconductor products, including video interfaces and artificial intelligence (AI) infused processors. These advancements are sure to play a critical role in shaping the future of screens, connectivity, and safety features in the automotive sector.
DQ: What are Synaptics’ solutions in the HMI technology and over-the-air (OTA) space?
Sanjay Saha: With a strong presence in the human-machine interface (HMI) technology domain, our expertise lies in creating seamless and intuitive interfaces between humans and machines. With respect to the automotive sector, contributing to improving road safety through HMI solutions like ADAS is a key focus for us.
Our technology enables clear and easy-to-understand visual and touch interactions, enhancing driver awareness and reducing the risk of road accidents. We also focus on user presence detection (UPD), gesture recognition, and biometric authentication. Indeed, these solutions not only enhance security but also personalize the driving experience.
OTA technology is becoming increasingly critical in various industries, including automotive, to keep software and firmware up to date, improve functionality, and address security vulnerabilities without requiring physical visits to service centers.
DQ: How, according to you, do connected environments prioritize both driver and passenger safety?
Sanjay Saha: Connected environments prioritize both driver and passenger safety through a combination of real-time data exchange and advanced technologies. For drivers, connected vehicles offer enhanced awareness through features like collision avoidance systems, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control, which help mitigate accidents and reduce the risk of human error.
Additionally, these systems provide crucial information such as traffic updates, road conditions, and potential hazards, aiding drivers in making safer decisions. Passengers benefit from connectivity as well, as they can stay informed and entertained during the journey, reducing distractions for the driver. Moreover, emergency response systems can automatically notify authorities in case of an accident, ensuring swift assistance.
Overall, connected environments create a symbiotic relationship between driver and passenger safety by leveraging data and technology to prevent accidents, improve decision-making, and provide rapid assistance when needed.
Further, we firmly believe that a seamlessly integrated and intelligently designed connected ecosystem serves as a cornerstone for enhanced safety in several significant ways. By providing real-time information and warnings to the driver, ADAS features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-spot monitoring significantly bolster driver awareness, mitigating the likelihood of accidents.
Likewise, the role of telematics and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication within connected vehicles is transformative. These vehicles can communicate not only with each other (V2V) but also with infrastructure (V2I) through sophisticated telematics systems. This communication empowers vehicles to proactively share vital information about potential hazards, such as traffic accidents or road conditions.
DQ: What are your views on chip shortage crisis in the auto sector?
Sanjay Saha: The chip shortage crisis in India’s auto sector represents a multi-faceted challenge with significant implications. India’s growing automotive industry has been grappling with a severe shortage of semiconductor chips since Covid-19 hit in 2020, leading to production delays, reduced vehicle manufacturing, and economic setbacks. This crisis underscores the global interconnected-ness of semiconductor supply chains and the increasing dependence of industries on advanced microelectronics.
As observed, a significant portion of semiconductor investments has been channelled into advanced processes such as 3nm, 7nm, and 5nm. While these cutting-edge technologies are essential for various applications, including the big applications processors that control entertainment systems, many automotive components still rely on older process nodes.
As India aims to establish itself as a manufacturing hub and expand its electric vehicle (EV) sector, addressing this chip shortage is paramount. Collaborative efforts among the Indian government, semiconductor companies, and local manufacturers are required to develop resilient supply chains and boost IP creation, which will further enable the creation of customized, high-value chips tailored to the specific needs of electric and autonomous vehicles.
Additionally, focusing on IP creation reduces dependency on global supply chains, mitigating the impact of chip shortage on the automotive sector.