Motorcyclists probably recognize the name Continental for its work in the tire industry, but the company has its fingers in a number of key elements in the motorcycle industry.
Continental is the third largest automotive parts supplier worldwide, and there is a good chance that more than a few parts on your motorcycle (ABS, dash, suspension, etc) comes from the German brand.
So, we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that Continental is developing what it calls “swarm intelligence” for motorcycles, through the Continental eHorizon platform. If you have no idea what that means, it’s cool. More simply put, Continental is trying to make Waze for motorcyclists.
Ralf Lenninger, Head of Continental’s Intelligent Transportation Systems explains eHorizon as follows, “the stored data is collated in the cloud and made available to all motorcyclists. As a result, the eHorizon system informs bikers in advance of obstacles along their route such as construction zones, accidents, slippery conditions, or traffic jams. Having this information can enhance safety, not only for motorcyclists, but also for other road users.”
The Continental eHorizon platform also serves to replace the motorcycle’s instrument cluster, and thus integrates information from the motorcycle (velocity, revs, etc) with information from the user’s smartphone (GPS location, incoming calls, etc).
Continental eHorizon thus allows OEMs to make their motorcycles more connected in our increasingly wireless world, without having to develop independently these costly systems.
However, the trick with vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems and services, like the ones described here, is that they rely on a uniform user base. That is to say, they only really work if a lot of other people use them too. That is where Continental could have some trouble.
Apps like Waze are already used by a huge number of motorists, and the Google-owned company is a formidable opponent to challenge.
That might be why Continental is targeting the two-wheeled world with its eHorizon platform, since it is a market that players like Apple, Google, and Microsoft haven’t been engaging with their systems.
Still, we think Continental is maybe five years too late with this idea, with motorcycle OEMs already showing their own connected platforms for motorcycles, and motorcyclists already improvising their own ways to stay connected while riding.
With significant B2B leverage though, don’t count Continental out just yet. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If you’re at CES next month, you can see the Continental eHorizon platform on display.