While their phones may no longer be the go-to device of connected individuals everywhere, BlackBerry is far from done with technology and innovation. The same people who arguably launched the smartphone market back in the day are making a bold appearance at CES this year with software that could very well become the backbone of the self-driving car industry.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “BlackBerry, which has been staking its future on higher-margin mobile-management software after big stumbles in its hardware business, aims to generate revenue of $500 million from software and related services in its current fiscal year, which ends Feb. 29. The company said it plans to launch its autonomous-driving technology in the second quarter of calendar 2016. However, sales related to these new offerings are unlikely to make an impact on the company’s top line in the near future, given that the sector is in its infancy.”
While self-driving cars are already in the testing phase from several different manufacturers, BlackBerry is bringing something to the table that other autonomous software hasn’t yet offered in this space. While automakers have focused on cars being able to assess road obstacles and obey traffic laws, BlackBerry’s product is working on letting these cars recognize and communicate with each other. If there’s a possibility that two cars could “see,” acknowledge, and respond accordingly to the presence of another car–something that human drivers aren’t always able to do–this could be one of the first genuine arguments for the safety of driverless cars.
Interestingly, BlackBerry’s innovation builds off one of its existing products, the QNX software that powers its in-car entertainment systems. It’s ironic that a concept that critics have pointed to as a source of distracted driving could be reprogrammed into one of the most important vehicle safety innovations to come out in a long time.