Blackberry announces new cyber-security software at Detroit Auto Show

Waterloo-based Blackberry continues to reinvent itself as a automotive technology and cyber security company by announcing Monday the release of its Jarvis software Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Emphasizing the company sees the automotive sector as a major area for growth, Blackberry CEO John Chen made his first appearance at the Detroit show to make the announcement.

“Most of the (software) out there is about threat detection and remedial (measures). They’re  not about building the most secure platform,” Chen said. “We’re the only ones that have it.

“I think it’s a big deal because it’s not only scalable for autos but it’s scalable for healthcare, military, oil, gas and energy. “I think we’re on to something.”

In trying to simply explain a very complex piece of software, Chen said essentially Blackberry Jarvis can pull apart and analyze any coding sequence to identify weaknesses, how it can be improved, whether someone is trying to hack it and how before companies use it in their products.

It can do it in lightning speed, can be used at every tier of the supply chain and can be endlessly expanded.

“The CEO of Jaguar/Land Rover emailed me this morning with the results of some testing they did using Jarvis,” Chen said.

“It reduced what would have taken researchers 30 days to do to seven minutes. I’m hoping that means we will be getting an order from Jaguar soon.”

Sandeep Chennakeshir, Blackberry’s president of technical solutions, said the company has built on the security platform that has kept Blackberry smartphones the preferred choice of government and military officials.

“We’ve enhanced what made our hand-held devices so secure and applied it,” Chennakeshir said.

“What differentiates us is you can keep adding engines to scan new codes. When you have 20,000 files from hundreds of parts suppliers, you have to know you can trust the integrity of the codes.”

Ken Washington, Ford Motor Company’s chief technical officer, said Blackberry’s technology is a key plank in the company’s autonomous vehicle plans.

Washington said Ford already has 700,000 connected vehicles. At the heart of that connectedness is the company’s Sync 3 system that is based on the Blackberry QXN operating system.

Washington said the Jarvis system will bolster Ford’s confidence in its products.

“Smart vehicles have to be able to communicate and have integrity,” Washington said.

“In such a world, you have to be confident in your software.

“Our ambition is to be a trusted connected mobility provider. That’s why QXN is so important to us.”

Chen senses the irony in the technology used in the Blackberry smartphone, which lost favour to Apple and Android products, now finding favour for use in some of the world’s most exclusive automobiles.

The QXN system is the top choice of manufacturers in the luxury vehicle category and is already used in 60-million vehicles and by over 40 automakers worldwide.

In recent weeks, Blackberry has used concept cars from luxury vehicle producers Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar to display its wares.

In addition to forging a direct relationship with Ford Motor Company, Qualcomm and Delphi, Blackberry also announced in the last couple weeks deals with American tech firm NVIDA and the giant Chinese search engine company Baidu for auto-related projects.

Blackberry, the Japanese tech firm Denso Corp. and Intel announced last month they’ve also successfully developed the world’s first integrated Human Machine Interface (HMI) platform for use in automobiles. The new HMI will be offered in vehicles beginning in 2019.

Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, speaks to the media during Blackberry’s presentation at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI, on Jan. 15, 2018.