Rightware: Finns help car industry to go digital

The digital show must go on, even for motorists. Software developed by Finnish company Rightware enables car manufacturers to personalise their on-board interfaces for consumers.

Established in 2009, Helsinki-based software company Rightware collaborates with more than 15 car manufacturers, including Audi and Nissan. Audi unveiled its new sports model, the TT at CES in early 2014; this car is fitted out with a fully digital instrument cluster based on Rightware software. Right now the company is shipping in six Audi models.

Rightware has offices in Europe, the USA and Asia. Some 25 million cars will be equipped with Rightware technology in the near future.

"We are gradually shifting from premium cars to volume models. We provide manufacturers with a platform they can modify as they like. We also provide consultancy services and technical assistance, such as software updates and help with product implementation. In addition to car manufacturers, automotive suppliers, such as Visteon, Bosch and Continental, use our design tools," says CEO Jonas Geust.

Rightware grew by 100 per cent in 2015 and had a turnover of over EUR 4 million. The company aims to repeat its success in 2016. With a staff of 55, Rightware is keeping its product development firmly rooted in Finland, even though its business is global.

User experience is the key

Car manufacturers are masters of branding and can always be found on the list of the world's most cherished brands. People love their cars and based on their daily use of phones and tablets, feel they should be able to continue the 'digital experience' once they are behind the wheel.

"People no longer just want to see under the hood or inside the boot. You have to be able to wow the consumer with cool graphics, easily accessible playlists and other customised data. We can then bring services – such as navigation to free parking spots or nearby special offers – to the dashboard display. Self-driving cars will be a huge step forward. Hands-free driving will create demand for detailed information on what's happening. Graphical user interfaces are the key to telling drivers what the vehicle is going to do next and providing the option of taking back control."

In 2013, Rightware participated in the Global Access Program by Tekes and UCLA, which provides expert assistance on breaking into the US market. After Europe, the US is now the prime market for the company. Four of the company's staff are located in the USA: two on the west coast focusing on new types of automotive projects and two Finnish technical guys located in the traditional 'Motown' of Detroit.

"Being on site is an absolute must, so that we can present updates within the hour. Six of the world's largest global car makers which, combined, make half of the world's cars, are based in Detroit. You don't get anywhere with customer by being based abroad. The first American cars equipped with Rightware technology will roll off the production lines in 2016," says Geust.

The company is experiencing some indirect competition from on-board computers and direct competition from graphical user interfaces. However, things are going well for Rightware – the company is already close to controlling 50 percent of the automotive digital interface market.

The future of cars

"While some car manufacturers are still considering going digital, others are already wondering about the next step. With displays and projection screens set to proliferate, digital devices will have to interact seamlessly. Traffic jams routinely last for hours in Central Europe and the United States, which means that you need to keep the driver entertained and alert."

Rightware used its Tekes loan for accelerating its software development. Tekes' financing for young innovative companies helped the company make the leap from consumer electronics to cars. It also helped Rightware to mark out its future path. Despite the firm's steadfast focus on cars, its platform can be used almost anywhere – in aircraft, medical equipment and industrial and building automation. Finnish Industry Investment Ltd has also invested in the company.

For further information, please contact

Jonas Geust
tel. +358 40 502 2712
jonas.geust (at) rightware.com


Pictures: Rightware

Kaj Nordgren