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Top Automotive Takeaways from CES 2013

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) always brings a bunch of appealing technologies. But which are the ones that have the greatest implications for the automotive industry? We take a look at some top contenders.

The Detroit Auto Show has been burning up the automotive new publications, but the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just wrapped up and merits analysis as well. This blog post explores some of the major technological innovations, platforms, and tricks introduced at CES (and its immediate precursor, the Telematics Update) that may have implications for the automotive industry operations or for the ways consumers interact with their cars.

Not-So-Self-Driving Cars: Driver Input with Tech Enhancements

Audi's self-driving car turned heads for many reasons, but one of the most impressive aspects of the vehicle was its ability to be controlled via smartphone. This capacity transforms the auto-propelled Audi from a mere self-driving car into a remote controlled car that's capable of being "driven"--whether or not the driver is inside. Your car may soon be able to run errands without you, pick up the kids, and drop off the dry cleaning while on autopilot but also with your supervision. Smartphone control of vehicle features has long been available, but smartphone control of the car itself is the next step on the road to some truly amazing autonomous-but-controlled vehicles. Lexus' autonomous driving vehicle is designed to have someone behind the wheel, but the system will autocorrect if drivers overbrake, brake too late, drift lanes, or commit other human errors that computers would never dream of.

Improved Digital Displays: UHDTV, OLED, HDMI

Attendees raved about the huge new ultra high definition televisions (UHDTV) from manufacturers like Sony. No one has yet showcased such screens in cars, but several high density pixel displays were featured and in less time than you expect you might be enjoying backup camera views, or even 360 views, that actually show the details of your car's surroundings in crystal clear detail--or you may be able to monitor your self-driving car's trips on your UHDTV from the comfort of home. Additionally, curved OLED display technology has implications for in-vehicle or even on-vehicle display. Imagine screens that fit better and more organically in cars, or stealth vehicles that show images of what's around them as they drive. Finally, HDMI inputs in vehicles facilitate playing videos from consumer devices such as phones, a boon for long drives or even short trips when children are involved.

Telematics Integrations

We've been talking about smartphone-vehicle integration for a long time, but each year it gets better and better. Interviews conducted at the Telematics Update reveal some of the issues associated with this integration, namely the need for ongoing subscription programs with regular updates and refreshes, as well as the disconnect between the long vehicle and rapid smartphone development timelines. The importance of vehicles fitting into customer lifestyles, rather than the other way around, was also emphasized as a crucial component of feature development.

Digital Health and Fitness

Cars and commutes are not often associated with healthy choices, but health and fitness were big themes at CES 2013. Personal fitness devices like FitBit, which can track the steps you take and other aspects of your personal fitness plan, have the potential to integrate with your vehicle and could suggest that you walk instead of drive for short trips, particularly if you haven't yet met your daily fitness goals. Or your personal digital health monitors could also serve to track your blood pressure and heart rate and determine if they elevate at stressful times--such as your commute. If that's consistently the case, perhaps a different commuting route or time would be better for your health. And, though no particular solution in this area was showcased at CES, traffic apps could be used to time your trip to the gym, accelerating your journey toward personal fitness and putting you in a better mood when you start working out.


What were some of the top takeaways from CES 2013 for you?

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