Foxconn might be more well known as the supplier of other companies these days – most notably Apple and Microsoft – and an employer with a shaky record of worker safety, but it’s had its finger in many manufacturing pies for a long time, producing a lot of its own hardware. Now it’s looking to the future, with plans for much more varied market interests, including robotics, cars and most importantly, wearables.
Announced by Foxconn CEO Terry Gou yesterday during yesterday’s annual meeting with shareholders, who said that, “When a typhoon comes, even a pig can fly.” This suggests that even though the company may not be particularly geared towards these new industries, it would make strides to make it happen.
Following on from Google’s announcement that it had automatic, driverless cars in the works, Foxconn is also working on vehicles of its own. They aren’t as self-controlling as Google’s efforts, but its are fully electric. Produced in partnership with China’s Beijing Automotive Group – which supplies the batteries – Foxconn’s new electric cars could hit roads within the next year and are set to cost around $15,000 (£8,800) when released.
On the subject of wearables, he said that Foxconn woulld invest upwards of $5.5 million in wearable smart-hearing device maker Sound Hawk. It’s shown big steps in developing what can not only be used as a hearing aid by the impaired, but also offers a way for normal-hearing people to listen in more closely to what’s important, drowning out the background noise of contemporary living. This sort of investment is Foxconn’s way of looking to the future, where it believes its manufacturing skillset could come in to play to help produce wearable devices for other companies. Apple specifically, since it has a long standing production relationship with the fruity firm.
In-case anyone was worried about these new directions though, Gou called for patience, suggesting that in time Foxconn would show itself as a dominant force in many new fields, but that it wouldn’t be immediate. The markets need to mature first:
“Please be patient, don’t be in a hurry,” he said. “I’m also the biggest shareholder, so if it’s bad for Hon Hai it’s also bad for me.”