Jen-Hsung Huang: the gaming tycoon making cars ‘more human’

The engineering industry currently stands at a beautiful intersection between multiple fields. Through the processes of innovation and invention, we are living in a climate where the objects around us are becoming learned aids to our lives, adopting the multi-sensory capacities humans have thrived off of for years. Under the wing of Jen-Hsun Huang, founder of Nvidia, the engineering world is set to witness the merging of automobiles and computers. Our cars, sports cars or family cars, are becoming increasingly intertwined with the evolutions of the digital world. Huang, an upcoming figure in the automobile industry, has been tasked by Mercedes Benz to help create a range of vehicles that go beyond just ‘smart’.

Huang is no stranger to the boundless potential for technological change to amplify the capacity of multiple industries. Born in Taiwan and raised in Oregon, where he studied at Oregon State University in 1984, Huang received a master’s degree from Stanford University before a significant 30th birthday, which marked the day he co-founded Nvidia. Since 1993, Nvidia has helped revolutionise the capacity of the computing industry. As the industry grew, Huang noticed a demand for computer chips that would support crisp and clear graphics without compromising performance: Nvidia was the answer. His chips helped support the growth of various gaming platforms, such as the Xbox, and continue to be used around the world.

Huang’s next move is in the automobile industry. It is becoming increasingly common for well-known car manufacturers to synthesise aspects of a more connected world with their vehicles, some of which include 3-D Navigation maps, self-driving and self-parking vehicles, and intelligent cameras. Volkswagen have recently announced they will invest $4 Billion in a new operating system for connected cars, while other manufacturers such as Lexus are making smaller changes to the traditional vehicle frame with their new ES Model making use of digital cameras rather than side view mirrors. One such manufacturer is Mercedes Benz, who in 2017 announced they would be teaming up with Huang to create a ‘more human’ car for their A-Class range of vehicles and, eventually, all other ranges.

Using the AI technologies of Nvidia, the new Mercedes Benz vehicles, aptly titled MBUX, will contain sophisticated 3D touch-screen displays and will work under the voice-activated command of its user. MBUX, however, promises to go beyond the current standard for a ‘connected’ car and will learn from its user, making route recommendations, location suggestions and music choices based on user choices. Its interface aims to be just as fluid, too, working intelligently to understand the mood of its user and adapting its appearance accordingly. This new system will also feature a rolling update system whereby Mercedes Benz can roll out new features through its network. Sajjad Khan, Mercedes Benz Vice President of Digital Vehicle and Mobility, remarks that ‘intelligence makes [the system] individualized’, offering the MBUX system as the next chapter in vehicle infotainment systems.

The engineering industry currently stands at a beautiful intersection between multiple fields

Whilst Huang is already a big figure in gaming, his impact on the auto industry could be unprecedented and may provoke new ways different areas of engineering expertise interact with each other. He has already received high praise from the industry, catching the attention of automobile journalists at high-profile events such as the annual CES show and at Nvidia’s conferences. At the 2014 CES show, Audi’s very own C.E.O. invited Huang on stage to showcase its self-driving A7. Huang’s keen technological eye has been noted for its sizeable contributions to the engineering world – his company won a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award in 2007 and, more recently, in 2018 Huang was recorded in the EDGE 50 list as one of the world’s top 50 influencers in edge computing.

While we await the ability to greet our cars with “Hey Mercedes”, Huang’s progress with Mercedes Benz is likely to be picked up by a number of outlets focusing on the immersion of vehicles in technology, including www.futurecar.com, www.europe.autonews.com and www.slashgear.com or, alternatively, reported by Nvidia itself at www.blogs.nvidia.com. It is important to note, though, that this kind of fluidity is possible when boundaries are stretched in the way Huang and Mercedes Benz have decided to stop enhancing and start creating; the kind of potential engineering offers.

In the gaming industry, Huang’s impact has already demonstrated the capacity for computers to mirror life in ways that would have been unprecedented only a decade ago. In this new interdisciplinary approach of the auto and the computed, Huang’s work could pave the way for other everyday objects to become ‘more human’, too. Samsung has already made popular the connected home system, but perhaps with the new use of Nvidia’s technology we could see houses that accommodate living spaces to our habits. Speculation aside, Huang’s impact is set to make waves for both the choice available to consumers and the capacity for the engineers to grow accordingly, which is currently an unsung praise.

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