Intel’s Wind River subsidiary announced on April 4 that it had acquired Arynga, a provider of software management solutions for secure wireless over-the-air (OTA) updating of software and firmware in the automotive market. See the press release here. (On April 5, Intel also announced the acquisition of Yogitech, which offers functional safety features and IP for semiconductors used in automotive and other safety-critical markets, although we won’t delve into Yogitech in this blog post.) Interestingly, the initial seed funding for Arynga was $250K in 2012 from Qualcomm Labs, the incubation subsidiary of Intel’s chip rival Qualcomm.
Arynga is best known for its CarSync solution, a GENIVI-compliant platform which includes a suite of software management tools for automakers and Tier 1 suppliers: CarSync Management System, CarSync BackOffice, Arynga Proprietary Differential Tool, CarSync Release Package Tool, and CarSync In-Vehicle Gateway.
At the risk of spoiling the suspense, we’ll tell you up front that the greatest benefit to Intel/Wind River from the acquisition of Arynga will be recurring revenue, which is not necessarily evident from Arynga’s current position. In the short term, the acquisition will help increase adoption of Wind River’s operating systems and software in the automotive market by integrating CarSync into Wind River’s Helix Chassis platform. And in the long run, the acquisition will help Intel sell more chips into the automotive market in electronic control units (ECUs), gateways, in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVIs), and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). But those don’t represent Arynga’s true value, which will be in services enabling OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to save money on recalls necessary to distribute software bug fixes.
Marques McCammon, general manager of connected vehicle solutions at Wind River, told VDC that Arynga’s solution is agnostic with respect to communications channel, and can work with vehicles that include a mixture of processors and operating systems from different vendors. The current solution utilizes the CarSync In-Vehicle Gateway as a software agent to handle the car end of the updating process, but the company might develop an option that would work without the proprietary agent. (An open source version of CarSync In-Vehicle Gateway has been available on GitHub) And services are clearly on his plate as function of Wind River’s Helix Cloud.
Although terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, McCammon told VDC that Arynga had 18 employees who are now part of Wind River staff. Considering the size of Arynga, VDC believes the acquisition price was likely modest, in return for which Intel/Wind River could reap big long term rewards.
With the increasing complexity of software systems in connected vehicles, OTA updating will become essential as other methods will be either too expensive or not reliable enough. Services will be needed to efficiently manage the updating process across multiple systems vendors within each vehicle, which in some cases will require coordinated timing of updates to maintain component compatibility without loss of functionality. Such services are likely to be lucrative in a safety- and security-critical market like automotive, due to the relatively high cost of alternatives like dealership visits or physical media distribution. And those services can become stepping stones to additional monetizable IoT services such as feature enhancements, infotainment content, and in-vehicle financial transactions. In VDC’s recent report entitled, Connect, Control, Store, & Analyze: The Burgeoning Market for IoT Services, we forecast the combined market for automotive and transportation to be the fastest growing segment in terms of IoT services revenue, with a CAGR of 51% from 2014 to 2020. And if OTA updating can succeed in the demanding automotive industry, it can expand into other safety- and/or security-critical markets.
The two main competitors for Arynga have been Redbend, which was acquired by Harman (a Tier 1 automotive supplier), and Movimento, a small privately held firm. In response to the Arynga acquisition, Movimento’s CTO & CMO Mahbubul Alam issued a prepared statement which included the comment, “Secure software/firmware OTA (SOTA/FOTA) technologies are one of the key pillars for enabling connected cars and the Industrial IoT. The acquisition of Arynga by Intel Wind River validates the broad applicability of firmware over-the-air (FOTA) and software over-the-air (SOTA) for the entire IoT space.”
While Alam can be forgiven for possibly directing acquisition arrows toward his own company, we at VDC largely agree with him. OTA updating services probably won’t be cost effective enough for many consumer electronics and smart home applications, nor will they be a good solution for sensitive defense projects, but for a wide range of devices in industrial, commercial, and medical markets, OTA services will be an obvious choice to keep devices and their users safe and secure, and to reduce liability risks for device makers.
That last point—liability—will also become increasingly important for automakers as they migrate toward autonomous vehicles, where there won’t be a viable alternative to OTA updating.
View the 2017 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more.