While CES is an acronym for Consumer Electronics Show, the running joke at this annual Las Vegas event is that CES is turning into the Car Electronics Show.
Many of the world’s biggest auto makers have become a major part of this highly-publicized conference – which serves as a glimpse into the future of technology -- by dominating much of the North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as surrounding facilities. And it doesn’t seem to matter this Sin City event falls on the heels of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
With that in mind, the following is a look at a few examples of some amazing automotive tech coming down the road.
It’s a mod world
Chrysler’s Portal concept offered a futuristic take on the family vehicle, focusing heavily on a reimagined car interior for millennials on the go. Featuring a sleek and spacious cabin with a modular design, you can add or remove seats to grow with your changing needs, such as adding a seat to an expecting family or removing a seat to fit some luggage and skis. On a track system, seats can also be repositioned inside the vehicle, if need be. While this concept car offers autonomous (self-driving) capabilities, you can take the airplane-like steering wheel to drive this electric car. This “third space” between work and home, as Chrysler refers to it, also packs in facial and voice recognition, touch-sensitive screens, support for hand gestures, and more. No word on when this could become a reality, but Chrysler says it’s more of a concept car that could benefit various models and not tied a specific one.
(Photo: Joe Wilssens, FCA)
Speak to me
Ford announced a partnership with Amazon to boost the most natural of interfaces: your voice. By integrating Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant into SYNC 3-enabled Ford vehicles, you’ll be able to search for nearby destinations, access content (like audiobooks, live sports scores, and millions of music tracks), pay bills (via Capital One’s Skill), and even add items to Amazon shopping lists – all by simply asking for it. Or ask Alexa to access your smart home devices on the road, such as controlling your home’s lighting, security systems, thermostat, and garage doors. This Alexa functionality could also work the other way around: access your car’s info at home, such as using your voice to start and stop your engine, lock or unlock doors, and monitor vehicle readings like fuel level and battery range. Ford will roll out Alexa’s home-to-car integration later this month, while car-to-home functionality will likely be by summer.
(Photo: Ford Motor Company/Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates)
Speaking of next-generation interfaces, BMW’s HoloActive Touch demo proved to be an impressive virtual touchscreen experience inside its BMW i Inside Future concept car. Showcased at BMW’s pavilion outside of the convention center, imagine free-floating buttons in the air, near the center console, that vibrates slightly underneath your fingertips when pressed; this tactile feedback confirms your selection. Allowing drivers to access in-car features or BMW Connected services, HoloActive Touch fuses BMW’s Head-Up Display (aided by the clever use of reflections) with AirTouch gesture controls and other technologies, to create this innovative and intuitive interface. BMW i Inside Future isn’t a car planned for production anytime soon, but pulls the curtain back on what this premium German automaker is cooking up in interior design and futuristic interface concepts.
(Photo: BMW AG)
Along with other automakers, Hyundai was at the 2017 CES with its autonomous vehicles, on-hand to take journalists for a spin around the city, but the South Korean car giant also demonstrated another – potentially life-changing -- mobility solution in the form of a wearable Iron Man-inspired robotic suit. H-MEX, the Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton, could give the gift of mobility to paraplegics, while other models will be able to assist the elderly or augment someone’s existing physical abilities in a military or industrial capacity (such as carrying super heavy loads). With the aid of H-MEX, people could walk, climb stairs, sit, and return to standing, thought aided with the uses of carbon fiber canes to maintain balance and to trigger the next action. While Hyundai gave hands-on demos of its H-MEX to select reporters at CES, the company didn’t specify if and when we’d see this tech in the market. (Not soon enough.)
(Photo: Hyundai Motor America.)
Other car highlights from CES
Mercedes-Benz unveiled its all-electric SUV concept car, the Mercedes EQ, due out sometime in 2019.
Ford took the wraps off its next-gen Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicle, featuring a new LiDAR sensor system.
Electric-car startup Faraday Future showed off its first production car concept, the FF91 crossover SUV.
Powered by an A.I. assistant named Yui, Toyota’s Concept-I aims to modernize, improve the driving experience.
To accelerate the evolution of self-driving cars, Nissan announced “Seamless Autonomous Mobility” (SAM) technology that combines human support and A.I. to help autonomous vehicles make decisions in unpredictable situations.
Focusing on urban drivers and ride sharers, Honda’s small, semi-autonomous and cube-like NeuV impressed at the show.
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