From idea to series feature in just a few months: BMW Group and the Swiss start-up AirConsole have rolled out a jointly developed solution for in-car gaming in record time. Since July, BMW drivers and passengers have been able to pass the time with computer games on the vehicle’s Curved Display during breaks, using their smartphones as controllers. The function is being made available for the first time with the launch of the new BMW 5 Series and will be offered successively for other models*. This innovative collaboration proves the success of the venture client model developed by the car manufacturer for the BMW Startup Garage.
Quick access to start-up ideas for the BMW Group
The special feature of this form of collaboration is that founders retain their shares in their company, since BMW does not participate as an investor, but rather as a customer (‘venture client’). “The Startup Garage promotes the integration of state-of-the-art startup technologies throughout the entire organisation”, says Toni Plöchl, Startup Manager R&D at BMW. BMW supports start-ups with the concentrated expertise of an international automotive group and, in return, gets quick access to new ideas.
“It was impressive how quickly we were able to work with the BMW research department as a result of the BMW Startup Garage. This was the only way to get the AirConsole solution for in-car gaming from a prototype to a BMW series feature as quickly as possible,” says Anthony Cliquot, CEO of N-Dream, the company behind AirConsole.
BMW also benefited from the start-up’s approach. Plöchl: “Thanks to the venture client model, the Proof of Concept was completed in record time. This proves the agility and effectiveness of our approach.”
New record number of projects, further increase planned
Last year, the venture client unit completed a total of 32 pilot projects with leading start-ups. Since the Startup Garage was founded, 20 start-ups have managed to become regular suppliers after the pilot project.
In-car gaming with AirConsole is the first development project that has made the leap into production models and can be directly experienced by customers using their vehicles. In other areas, such as production, projects have also already been implemented, for example with regards to automated driving on the factory premises. To increase logistics efficiency, the vehicles move independently within the assembly area and then to the logistics parking areas – safely and without a driver. In this project, the BMW Group is working together with the start-ups Seoul Robotics (South Korea) and Embotech (Switzerland).
“In 2023, we want to further surpass the current record number of pilot projects with startups,” announces Plöchl. “Start-ups that have such great ideas as in-car gaming and focus on immersive in-vehicle experiences and other topics related to the digitalisation of mobility can apply to the venture client programme at any time.” In addition, international activities are to be expanded as part of the programme. “The United States are currently of particular interest to us,” says Plöchl. BMW already has two Tech Offices there, in Mountain View and Greenville. However, cooperations with the BMW Startup Garage are also possible at the other Tech Office locations in Tel Aviv (Israel), Singapore, Shanghai (China), Seoul (South Korea) and Tokyo (Japan).
* Ex works: BMW 7 Series, BMW iX, BMW i4 from production 07/23; BMW X5, BMW X6, BMW X7, BMW XM, BMW X5 M, BMW X6 M from production date 08/23. Other BMW models from the mid-size class upwards will follow gradually. Further vehicles that can be updated to BMW Operating System 8.5 at a later date via Remote Software Upgrade include: BMW 7 Series from production date 07/22; BMW iX from production date 03/23; BMW X5, BMW X6, BMW X7, BMW XM, BMW X5 M, BMW X6 M from production date 04/23.
SOURCE: BMW Group