LAS VEGAS -- At the world's largest technology conference that kicked off today, the most intriguing innovations showcased may be gadgets and technology that turn vehicles into connected, smarter machines.
This year's Consumer Electronics Show here promises a new generation of "smart" gadgets, some controlled by voice and gestures, and technology advancements in vehicles, some of which already enable motorists to dictate e-mails or check real-time fuel prices.
A record number of automakers such as Audi, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota are showing the latest in-vehicle navigation, entertainment and safety systems. Auto suppliers are showing their products as well.
The Consumer Electronics Association has forecast the market for factory-installed tech features in vehicles growing 11 percent this year to $8.7 billion.
BMW, for one, already provides speech recognition that is processed instantly through data centers, converted into text and e-mailed without drivers taking their hands off the wheel. The luxury carmaker also offers data about weather and fuel prices.
"Automotive has been this backwater of technology for a long time. Suddenly, we're seeing a lot of real innovation in automotive technology," Scott McGregor, CEO of chipmaker Broadcom, told Reuters before the show.
With venues spanning the equivalent of 32 football fields across Las Vegas -- more than 1.9 million square feet -- CES is an annual rite for those seeking to glimpse the newest gadgets before they hit store shelves.
One product enables motorists to have their favorite newspapers and magazines read to them during their morning commutes with the help of a smartphone application.
Kaliki Audio Newsstand from BT Software meshes with Ford's Sync AppLink in-car connectivity system to bring drivers the readings.
The application is free for Sync users and available for download on the Google Play Store for Android customers today. An iPhone version will be available in the Apple App Store this month.
Sync AppLink, which connects to mobile devices through Bluetooth technology, is available in the 2013 C-Max, E series, Expedition, F-150, F-series Super Duty, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Mustang.
BT Software is announcing the debut of local newspapers in Kaliki, starting with the Los Angeles Times and Detroit Free Press for users in those markets. Kaliki also will offer content from Shape magazine, TV Guide, Men's Fitness, OK! and Agence France-Presse.
The amount of content will continue to grow in the coming months, said Bruce Hopkins, vice president of sales and business development for BT Software.
Hopkins, a Detroit native, said the company also anticipates the addition of local weather and traffic updates.
"As a commuter in the Detroit market, the options on the radio are not what I would want on the commute," Hopkins told Automotive News. "We are providing the audio newsstand to give people the capability to listen to the content that they want, when they want it."
Once a phone is Bluetooth-paired with Sync, drivers press a voice button on the steering wheel to "voice-request" Kaliki without touching the phone, according to the companies.
After the program starts, drivers are asked to select their publication by saying its name. The application then starts playing a list of available stories from that outlet.
A new location-based suggestion app might help take motorists on the ultimate date.
Ford says it is testing the app, BeCouply, with Sync AppLink.
To use the app, a driver simply asks where some good date ideas are nearby. Sync then suggests date ideas such as bowling or viewing movies. The driver may then ask where the nearest bowling alley or movie theater is, and the app will recommend places nearby.
Vince Bond Jr., Brianna Valleskey, and Reuters contributed to this report
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