The car - connected more than ever

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The International Consumer Electronic Show isn't just about cool TVs, 4G phones or hundreds of different cases for your next tablet (of which there are plenty). The cars also carry high-tech gizmos this year -- so many that some are calling Las Vegas the "new" Detroit auto show.

Some of the most striking gadgets that appealed to us this year:

• Audi's in-car touch pad, which is situated next to the automaker's MMI navigation and audio knob, can recognize letters or digits written with a finger. The model that is sold in China, even recognizes Chinese characters. Audi says it will make its way into more of its vehicles in the future.

• Toyota's Entune mobile application allows drivers to buy movie tickets or make dinner reservations while driving. It offers fully integrated and upgradeable entertainment, navigation and information systems. All of it is done using voice recognition.

• Supplier Visteon's C-Beyond concept car has ports within the vehicle that allows passengers to attach a keyboard and mouse.

• French supplier Parrot has an Asteroid system which is a computer embedded in the dashboard of the car that runs Android's navigation system using Google Voice.

• The Blue Link system in Hyundai cars has a feature called "geofencing" which can detect if the driver is going outside a predetermined set of its boundaries, sort of like the invisible fence in your backyard. Car stolen? Geofencing slows the car down.

• Teenagers won't like Ford's MyKey technology that allows parents to block certain satellite radio stations, just like parental controls on the TV at home.

"There is a revolution that is taking place. Some of the most exciting new consumer electronics aren't the ones in your living rooms or in your offices. They're the ones in your cars," Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said this week in his keynote address.

And how.

You can reach Jason Stein at jstein@crain.com. -- Follow Jason on Twitter

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