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MDS to expand car tech business

The nation’s largest embedded software provider, MDS Technology, is shifting its focus toward smart car technology.

Embedded software is built into vehicles, digital devices or aircrafts to control them, offering high levels of efficiency and safety.

“The transition to the automotive business was not an option but a necessity,” said Chang Myung-sub, managing director of MDS Technology, in an interview with The Korea Herald.
MDS Technology managing director Chang Myung-sub. (MDS Technology)
MDS Technology managing director Chang Myung-sub. (MDS Technology)

For the last three years, the demand for its software from the smartphone segment ― traditionally its core business ― has seen a decline, but orders for automotive electronics have surged, he said.

“Smart technology will become a deciding factor in purchasing a car down the road,” Chang said.

In the past, vehicles’ size, mileage and performance were the most significant factors for choosing a car. However, drivers are now increasingly considering digital factors such as car’s smartphone connectivity, intelligent parking systems and advanced navigation systems.

“The ultimate goal of smart car technology is autonomous vehicles, which are capable of sensing their environment and navigating without human input. This requires both safety and entertainment systems,” Chang said.

“We are developing embedded software for improving vehicles’ safety functions such as lane assist systems, external air bags, parking assistance systems and blind spot detection,” he said.

MDS Technology is supplying its products to all domestic automakers ― Hyundai, Ssangyong, GM Korea and Renault Samsung.

“As safety issues are very critical, we want to have enough experience in Korea to make forays into global markets down the road.”

As for in-car entertainment systems, the company has already been marketing its MirrorLink system to overseas clients since last year.

MirrorLink is a device standard that offers integration between a smartphone and a car’s infotainment system. MDS Technology is the sole provider of the system in Korea.

The company signed deals with a first-tier Chinese automotive supplier last year and a Japanese supplier this year, which is in turn expected to supply it to a Japanese auto company this June.

“We are hoping to supply the MirrorLink system to domestic companies like Hyundai Mobis and LG Electronics,” the director said.

Experts are upbeat about the prospects of MDS Technology’s vehicle business. “With Hyundai Motor Company’s increasing focus on electronic technology, sales of MDS Technology are expected to rise further as (it becomes) an exclusive software supplier for electronics development,” said Park Seung-hyun, an analyst at Daewoo Securities Co.

MDS Technology’s sales in the vehicle sector are expected to rise to 34.4 billion ($32 million) in 2015 from 19 billion won in 2012, he said.

By Shin Ji-hye (