Volkswagen has been gradually improving the quality of the infotainment systems offered in its vehicles over the course of the past two years, even going so far as to introduce a prototype gesture control interface at least year's CES for the Golf R - a design that has yet to make it into production. For 2016, VW is once again back at CES promoting the gesture control concept, but it's doing so on the strength of an entirely new system installed in a concept car based on its current battery-powered hatchback and dubbed the 'e-Golf Touch.'
The Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept overachieves in terms of wowing CES attendees with a vast range of cutting edge technologies and features. The small, crossover-like van - which will almost certainly never be built - is intended to showcase both the brand's upcoming electric vehicle plans, as well as its forays into comprehensive connectivity, the Internet of Things, and next-generation human-machine interface development.
While many car maker's vision of the future involve technology-centric machinery and gadgets inside the car, Rolls-Royce is taking a slightly different look. The luxury marque has started its move to employ a new kind of architecture for its upcoming models. It envisions that by early 2018, all its cars will be sporting a new, proprietary aluminum space-frame architecture that promises to add even more stability and strength to Rolls-Royce's line of comfortable and luxurious vehicles and it will be starting its public tests soon.
Texting while crossing the road might be a shortcut to getting run down, but if Microsoft has its way your mobile device will act as a guardian angel. The company has teamed up with automated driving specialist IAV on a system whereby connected devices - like a smartphone, wearable, or something else commonly carried - can communicate the user's location to nearby vehicles, helping avoid collisions even when traditional cameras might not be able to see a potential accident.
Autonomous driving is often spoken of in absolutist terms: cars either drive themselves, or they don't. In reality, there's a huge technological grey area that occupies the space between those two poles, and at least for the foreseeable future, it's this undiscovered country that is going to play the biggest role in the eventual transition to self-driving landscape.
CES is the Consumer Electronics Show but of late that has also included car makers. Automobile brands like BMW have wholeheartedly embraced consumer electronic technology, including mobile devices, in their drive, pun intended, to the future. At CES 2016, BMW is flaunting some of its ideas and prototypes not just for future cars but for future homes as well. Unsurprisingly, it's a future filled with all kinds of dynamic and interactive displays that can be controlled with the touch of a finger or, even better, a wave of a hand.
Qualcomm is pushing its chips further into automotive, with Audi adopting the Snapdragon 602A as the processor firm debuts the new 620A. The Audi win will see Qualcomms' car-centric chipsets appear in the third-generation of MMX infotainment, with high-resolution graphics, LTE connectivity, and more.
BMW brings a wide variety of smart technologies and expansions to smart vehicles to the Consumer Electronics Show 2016. This includes their future mobility solution "Light and Charge", BMW i8 Mirrorless / BMW i3 Extended Rearview Mirror, BMW ConnectedRide, and BMW Connected. Also appearing at the show were a number of new Control Concepts from BMW, new Internet of Things services, and the networked cockpit - the BMW i Vision Future concept. All are included in BMW's vision for a much smarter - and safer - automotive experience.
Ford's newest play for the smart experience is pairing their SYNC-equipped vehicles with Amazon Echo and Alexa. At CES 2016, Ford has announced that they are developing ways to pair "millions of SYNC-equipped vehicles" around the world with smart products in your home. To begin, they're working with SYNC Connect, pushing connections to Amazon's products - Amazon Echo and their smart assistant system Alexa. This connection will allow voice control access between smart cars and smart homes.
One of the clearest trends at CES 2016 so far is that vehicle infotainment systems are the "new big thing," and because they are basically OS platforms for cars, it's time they run Microsoft Office. That may sound like a joke, but it's what Harman is actually working on, with help from Microsoft. Harman's vision is to allow drivers to use the Cortana voice assistant to do things like schedule meetings, join conference calls, and respond to emails.