4 Top In-Car Technology Innovations from CES 2013

Amazing technology has infiltrated our lives in many areas. Our personal electronics are smaller and faster than ever, businesses can operate at a fraction of the cost with cloud technology innovations and even our homes are becoming more connected to us to deliver a higher level of comfort and efficiency. But there is one area that has been behind the 8 ball in terms of being a technology enabler. That is, the trusty automobile. You can argue that in-car technology IS here and has been progressing. It is true, but not at the rate of other industries, until now.

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held every year in Las Vegas houses the best in future consumer tech and this year a light was shone on the automotive industry. Here we will go through 4 In-Car Technology Innovations that is helpingthe automotive industry catch up to everyone else.

4 Top In-Car Technology Innovations:

Self-Driving & Advanced Safety Vehicles:

self driving car at CES 2013

I know this isn’t something new! We’ve seen countless articles on Google’s foray into self-driving cars. But now we are starting to see another car manufacturer hop on board. Audi unveiled their Self Driving creation that was demoed navigating a hotel parking garage. Although this is only a ‘proof of concept’ it is great to see other car manufacturers are joining or looking to join the fold in self driving technology.

Toyota and Lexus introduced their advanced safety research vehicle that is developing in-car technology to help drivers make the best decisions in different situations. The car on show was a Lexus LS sedan that had:

  • 3 Hi-Definition colour cameras that can detect objects at 500 feet.
  • 360 degree Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) lasers detecting objects at 220 feet.
  • 3 further radar units to track surrounding vehicles at intersection, plus
  • A precision odometer on the rear wheel, GPS that estimates orientation and an accelerometer.

This in-car technology may not smell of ‘autonomous car of the future’ but these safety aspects will definitely be a part of the driver-less car package.

Cars Being Connected:

wifi hot spot in-car technology from Verizon

When I say connected, I don’t mean in the sense of connected to each other (even though I’m sure that’s not far away), but connected to the internet.

Wi-Fi has been introduced by linking a smartphone via Bluetooth. Sprint Velocity is one of the players in this area that will allow spoken sports and news updates, turn by turn navigation plus text to voice and voice to text features. Payments will also be a feature to allow users to purchase more data with the example of having children in the back with their tablets. This could also open up opportunities for other businesses to join in with in-car payments being made for e.g. prepaying your next log book service.

Audi has gone one step further with the unveiling of in-car LTE wireless broadband. That’s right, no need to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, you are always connected. Audi has partnered with Qualcomm to provide features such as in-car Wi-Fi hotspots, internet radio and augmented navigation systems. With this level of accessibility we can almost do or get anything we need, as long as we have the right systems to connect it with.

Infotainment Systems:

In-car technology Infotainment System at CES 2013 Chevrolet

Information and entertainment systems (infotainment) have been around for a while but now that easy connectivity is being introduced with Wi-Fi and inbuilt broadband, the functions that these systems can now perform have increased tenfold. This has opened the door for car manufacturers to integrate such systems to get a jump on their competition. Ultimately these systems will deliver information just like your smartphone but with a lot less distraction if you’re trying to do it behind the wheel!

Subaru’s infotainment system from Starlink will give their customers a concierge like service with: Trip advisor hotel recommendations, Yelp restaurant recommendations and weather along with other cool stuff.

Other car manufacturers that were talked about at CES for infotainment systems were Ford with the MyFord Touch, Hyundai’s BlueLink and Chevrolet’s MyLink. Without a doubt all car manufacturers are working to implement these systems so as to not get left behind. But just imagine how driving will be in a few years.

Open Developer Programs:

Ford Open Developer Program for MyLink Touch

When you think about the applications these infotainment systems could run, the sky is the limit. But there is no way on earth that any auto manufacturer could produce apps continuously. This is why it is great to see that Ford and GM are taking a leaf out of Apple and Google’s books by creating open developer programs for third party app developers to build out their platforms.

Ford showcased many apps from third party developers such as:

  • BeCouply – Date ideas based on location.
  • Roximity – Find nearby deals.
  • Kaliky – Reads audio-versions of articles from popular publications.

One roadblock in the foreseeable future for this type of strategy is that the user base for in-car apps is very small when compared to that of iOS and Android users. So it will be hard to lure app developers in to produce apps without a wide audience. But as infotainment systems become stock standard in new cars and there is data to show that users are paying/using in-car apps they will be more likely to develop an in-car version of their applications.

After seeing what automakers have in store for us at CES 2013 I am very excited to say that the future looks bright for in-car technology integration. Many of the products displayed at CES may not see that light of day for many years or even at all, but there will be a lot of products that will be integrated in the near future.

One concern that does come to mind though is SAFETY. In-car technology integration could bring more distractions to the daily commute or road trip (where concentration at high speeds is paramount). The use of voice activation protocols is a step in the right direction but it will be interesting to see what impact these integrations have on road accident numbers.

What are your thoughts on the landscape of in-car technology? Is it a good inclusion or are you hesitant due to the possible safety issues? Let us know in the comments below!

Here are some other noteworthy products to have a look at:

Know any other articles we should add to this list? Add them to a comment below.


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