CES 2016 Did Cars Steal The Show?

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CES 2016 Pushed Familiar Technology While Cars Stole The Show

Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show provides a peek into the future – at least as far as next Christmas. This is where we get some idea as to what gadgets, entertainment products and other cool technology will be awaiting us next holiday season. This year’s record 170,000 attendees were not disappointed with plenty of technology to wow them from over 3800 vendors. But this year seemed like a repeat of last year with drones, wearables, robots and connected cars providing the show highlights.  And of course, there was the next round of televisions and other consumer products target at our entertainment dollars.

In the last few years, automotive electronics have literally come out of nowhere to become a major CES highlight. Supporting this is the fact that automotive electronics industry is forecasted to grow at an average rate of 7% reaching almost $200M by 2017. When compared with the forecasted 4% annual increase for the automotive market overall, electronics growth is quite strong. It’s also fair to say that most automotive innovation is coming from electronics, with safety and connectivity applications leading the way and the idea of the self-driving car creating the ultimate in industry buzz.

The first connected cars with LTE connectivity built in are already on the road. Early applications are very familiar to smartphone users; streaming entertainment apps for music (e.g. Pandora) and video and driver assistance apps (e.g. maps and directions, travel guides, traffic information, weather, parking info and gas prices). Infotainment platforms such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were featured in numerous auto maker announcements such as Ford and Fiat Chrysler. There was also a bit of a public relations kerfuffle with VW stating the Apple preventing them from demonstrating wireless CarPlay at the show.

Connected car apps expected by 2020 will get us much closer to the self-driving car with technology that connects into the driving infrastructure (stop lights, speed control, incidents and closures) and car-to-car communication that supports overall traffic management and crash avoidance. Fully autonomous cars were on all of the major automotive vendor agendas at CES.

Some of the automotive-related announcements made at CES 2016:

  • Mercedes-Benz announced the 2017 E-Class “fully-standard” autonomous car.
  • GM announced a partnership with Lyft to build a nationwide fleet of self-driving vehicles that riders can order using Lyft’s ride-hailing app
  • Ford announced plans to triple its fleet of self-driving test vehicles to 30 by the end of this year
  • Nvidia unveiled the Nvidia Drive PX 2 as “the world’s first in-car artificial intelligence supercomputer”
  • Toyota introduced its Mobility Teammate Concept to illustrate how its automated driving technology uses artificial intelligence “so that connected vehicles learn from and share with each other in real time to create a safe driving environment.’
  • Volvo announced a partnership with Ericsson to develop intelligent, HD media streaming for self-driving cars.

With 9 major automakers and over 100 suppliers at CES 2016, automotive electronics was big news. And while the truly self-driving, totally autonomous car still has a lot of development yet to be done, major pieces of the technology is starting to show up in new cars right now – which is what makes this consumer technology so fascinating.