The International CES in Las Vegas is fast becoming the high-tech world’s own auto show. This year’s meeting spotlighted the intersection of the two spheres in areas such as safety, autonomous driving and entertainment.
International CES fast becoming high-tech world's auto show
Product: OLED taillights
What it is: The organic light-emitting diodes in these taillights don't require bulbs or reflectors. Light is generated by a strip of material sandwiched between 2 glass panes.
What's cool: They are only 1.4 millimeters thick -- seemingly as thin as a decal -- and the light-emitting strip can be cut into any shape.
Will it be sold? BMW expects to produce them in 1 or 2 years.
Company: Harman International
Product: Individual Sound Zones
What it is: Each passenger can create an aural cocoon in which he or she listens to music, conversation or a phone call with minimal cross-noise from other passengers. Harman embeds speakers in the headrests and the roof.
What's cool: Noise cancellation software allows you to chat with your spouse while your son stages a Pitbull music festival in the back seat.
Will it be sold? Seems likely. The technology is proven, and it worked surprisingly well on the show floor.
Companies: Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH
What it is: A compact, inexpensive lidar unit that can be used for low-speed obstacle detection in city driving. Lidar technology uses lasers to sense distances and surroundings.
What's cool: It's cheap. Osram says it can be produced for $100-$150 per unit. If so, lidar could become a mass-market sensor for collision avoidance.
Will it be sold? Probably. Automakers are eager to adopt a belt-and-suspenders approach to collision avoidance. Lidar complemented by radar and cameras could give automakers enough confidence to produce self-driving cars.
Product: Golf R Touch
What it is: A concept car in which VW replaced the buttons, knobs and switches of the Golf R hatchback with touchpads and gesture controls. The car has a pair of screens in the center stack, plus a 12.3-inch touch screen for an instrument cluster.
What's cool: The driver can open the sunroof just by waving a hand in front of an overhead sensor, or adjust the volume of the stereo or change radio stations with a flick and wag of a finger.
Will it be sold? Probably not. Some controls may find their way into VW products, but moving too quickly away from hard buttons and knobs is risky, as the rollout of Ford's MyFord Touch made clear.
Company: BlackBerry's QNX unit
Product: Maserati Quattroporte demo
What it is: A demonstration vehicle for QNX's latest operating system, in which infotainment, the instrument cluster and driver-assist features all are controlled by a single computer system.
What's cool? Lines of LED lights on the dashboard glow yellow when the driver hits the turn signal lever and flash red if sensors detect a car in the blind spot, or if a laser scanner detects an object, such as a pedestrian, standing in front of the car.
Will it be sold? Expect some features to appear in future cars from QNX's customers, which include General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen Group.
Product: BlueLink Smartwatch
What it is: An app from Hyundai that lets drivers access its BlueLink connected-car service from digital smartwatches running on Android.
What's cool? Drivers can use the watch app to lock and unlock their car doors or view a map showing the vehicle's location.
Will it be sold? Yes. Hyundai plans to roll out the app this year, and all vehicles equipped with BlueLink will be compatible with it.
Product: Drive CX
What it is: A purpose-built computer for cars, intended to control infotainment and demonstrated in the Renovo Coupe, an all-electric supercar that goes on sale this year.
What's cool: Nvidia's core business is video gaming, so its in-car computers, though costlier than many rival systems, offer rich textures and effects. For instance, gauges in the cluster can be programmed to react to the movements of a car, tilting subtly as a driver rips around a turn.
Will it be sold? Yes. Automakers will decide what their infotainment systems look like, but Nvidia's demonstration at CES shows what its hardware can do.
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