Prowling the Floor at CES 2015 if the gadgets don’t get you the sexy new high tech cars will
CES is always overwhelming. The size (fills the Las Vegas Convention Center and overflows into a couple of Strip hotels), the number of exhibits (over 3,500) and the number of attendees (over 160,000) simply boggles the mind and stresses your feet. On display you see everything from very serious tech (like some new personal medical tech that can save your life) to the not-so-serious stuff (like a smart belt called Betty that automatically adjusts itself when you go from standing to sitting.) And then there’s the bling – absolutely everywhere!
Some trends are clearly visible. Everything is getting smarter. And lighter. And sips battery power. Probably the most unusual gadget in this “getting smarter” category is an intelligent tennis racket that counts your hits and misses and transmits data to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth. The app then displays where you tend to connect with the ball on the racket face.
Then there are things that are simply visible – in this case, drones zipping overhead peering down at you with their onboard cameras. There was one that cost $600 and is controlled by an Android app. Drones are now available to anyone! Also visible were the robots, mostly for the home, waving at you to attract your attention. The dog barking is not visible (actually, it’s a recording) but it also grabs your attention to a wearable tracker for your pet (the app is probably called Find Fido!)
With all this stuff vying for your attention, it is very easy to lose focus on what you came to learn. In my case, I wanted to learn more about what’s going on in the automotive electronics area. Yesterday’s keynotes by Ford and GM executives (see my previous post) were just the beginning. Here’s just a quick look at some of the automotive technology on display this year.
- Mercedes-Benz F015 – Mercedes’ vision of the car of tomorrow is full of connected technology and is totally self-driving
- Volkswagen e-Golf – a fully electric car that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Volkswagen also demonstrated its Trained Parking technology (which parks and retrieves your car while you head for the restaurant) and a new dashboard in the Golf R Touch concept car.
- Ford had multiple demonstrations such as its next-generation infotainment system Ford Sync 3.0.
- BMW, Audi, Volkswagen and Hyundai talked about smartwatch apps that can lock/unlock, start, monitor and retrieve your car (Dick Tracy never had this!). Goodbye keys.
- Audi’s A7 demonstration car made the 550-mile drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas without driver intervention. The car handles freeway driving pretty well, making lane changes (for passing slower cars) at speed. However, when it detects city traffic it signals the driver to take over.
- General Motors presented its next generation OnStar technology. Going beyond emergency service and restaurant reservations, a new OnStar service called AtYourService connects drivers with retailers and merchants along their route. If you request directions from OnStar, the app will give you deals and offers from nearby merchants. OK – it had to happen.
- After-market vendors showcased all sorts of stuff.
- Valeo had a smartwatch app that replaces your keys
- SenseDriver had a heads-up display that uses your smartphone connectivity
- Nvidia announced Drive PX, a device that processes camera views and sensor data from around the car and make intelligent decisions like braking or avoidance of an obstacle. (Backseat drivers are no longer relegated to the backseat!)
- Rivet Auto has developed an API that allows OEMs to deliver radio news and weather updates tied to your location.
- Panasonic had a couple of electric bikes on display as an alternative to the family car.
You can find much more detail in the vendor announcements and other CES 2015 summaries.