Harman’s Ready Upgrade Is Like a Hot-Swap Hard Drive for Cars

Software-defined vehicles (SDVs) capable of over-the-air (OTA) updates are all the rage now, but what about the hardware? Most of us have learned to eye software updates warily once our phones and tablets reach about five years old, as they can cripple the device’s speed, wreck its battery life, and generally render it worthless. Well, Samsung subsidiary Harman has a fix for that on future cars called Ready Update.

The Problem

Automakers have been doing their level gol-dangdest to produce future-ready vehicles, but the plain fact of the matter is that designing, developing, and quality-checking a new vehicle takes time. A lot of it. And no matter how clear the OEM’s crystal ball or how much surplus computing power they bake into the domain-controller chips, they’re never going to guess perfectly, such tomorrow’s wild new Bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular technology can too easily render today’s new car an instant electronic anachronism.

Quicker, Cheaper to Market

Harman Ready Upgrade is a pre-certified domain controller that powers all instrument panel and infotainment screens, head-up displays, internal communications, and more, available in three levels of capability, price, and features. It comes pre-homologated for all major markets (there is no radio tuner, eliminating a need to differentiate Ready Upgrade geographically).

The idea is to relieve OEMs of the cost and uncertainty of developing and future-proofing vehicle controllers while assuring customers their transportation investment will meet or exceed the viable longevity of their phones. OEMs can use current generation Harman Ready Update controllers during development, swapping and upgrading along the way and go to market with the most recent version, realizing as much as 70 percent development cost savings.

Future Proof

A new generation of the controller will be released every 18 months for both new-vehicle production and potential in-field upgrade. Software updates will become available quarterly for over-the-air updating, and the Android Automotive version it all runs on will be continuously updated as well.


This small square box contains type-certified Bluetooth and WiFi antennas, full compute system in package (SIP), memory, etc. And it connects to the vehicle by a single quick-disconnect 96-pin connector that includes two ethernet connections (and some unused pins for more future upgradability). Now when new subscriptions or features become available, if the customer’s domain controller lacks a critical feature set, upgrading it to a more recent version will be easy to do and affordable, keeping them in their vehicle (perhaps continuing to pay monthly subscription fees) for years to come.

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