This year, we’ve had a shorter and more compact version of CES. There are fewer brands on the floor and even fewer visitors. Despite this, we’ve still seen auto manufacturers wowing us with high-tech concepts and creative artistry
But it’s not all about the big dogs. CES 2022 has provided an opportunity for lesser-known brands, and startups to show off their technical and creative nous.
Personally, my favorite parts of the show have been in-car product offerings (with one notable exception). So let’s take a look at the CES auto innovations that have blown me away.
Augmented Reality HUD 2.0 (Panasonic)
Panasonic has created cool AI-powered navigation software with 3D AR overlays, icons, mapping, and a patented eye-tracking system.
The technology identifies the individual driver’s height and head movement behind the wheel and dynamically adjusts and compensates the images in the “eyebox.” It further supports driver identification and other driver monitoring features like detecting drowsiness, impairment, and distraction.
Wireless in-car charging (Aira)
Launching in 2022, they eliminate the need for devices to be precisely aligned to receive power and the problem of low efficiency that leads to slow charging. Nice one!
An in-car switchable privacy display (Continental)
Continental’s Switchable Privacy Display helps reduce distractions for drivers.
It uses backlight units to allow for multiple viewing options. A strongly directed backlight makes content fully visible only from the passenger viewing angle in private mode. This means someone watching a video won’t distract the drivr.
As entertainment options become more prevalent in vehicles, technology like the Switchable Privacy Display is essential to reduce driver distractions.
iX Flow (BMW)
When is a black car really white? When it’s a new BMW. The automaker calls the concept iX Flow. The car body is laminated with an electrophoretic film containing microcapsules the diameter of a human hair.
Each capsule contains differently charged white, black, or colored particles, which become visible when an electric field is applied. This creates what is known as an Electronic Paper Display (EPD). Yep, the same digital ink used in your Kindle and various touch screen devices.
Looks cool, but it already has its critics. These include cybersecurity professional Jake Williams, who notes on Twitter:
It’s easy to see these hacked and used to display graffiti. Sooner than later, we’re likely to see ransomware on these “pay me or I’ll display a pornographic scene on your door!” https://t.co/yLbOjeIglH
— Jake Williams (@MalwareJake) January 6, 2022
Yep, imagine a dick pic on your car…
Other folks’ hackles have been raised around the carbon footprint and potential for driver distraction. However, it’s unclear whether this is an in-show gimmick, a touted future of vehicles, or even a subscription service to new owners.
Digital art mode (BMW)
When do art and cars converge? I’m not entirely sure, but BMW aims to bring a little soul into your life through a multisensory digital art experience. BMW has brought back sound artist Hans Zimmer and multimedia artist Cao Fei to make driving more than just an act of transportation.
The brand notes that “sometimes you miss the acoustic tingling of a revving engine.”
In response, they’ve developed soundscapes tailored to the new My Modes, which will set the tone in the BMW i4 and BMW iX from 2022.
My Modes enhance the visual, audio, and digital experience in your car. A touch of a button or a voice command coordinates drive and chassis control, lighting mood and sound colors, and the color scheme and graphics of the dashboard display.
In-car entertainment with the BMW Theatre screen
Watching movies on an in-car tablet is child’s play compared to BMW’s latest in-car entertainment, Theatre screen. A 75.5cm display features an Amazon Fire TV with a resolution of up to 8k (7680 × 2160 pixels). It’s 5G connected and perfect for streaming 4K content.
As soon as the display folds down, blinds automatically cover the rear window to reduce glare, and the lights dim. A privacy screen means drivers behind you won’t be distracted, and the front seat driver is left watching the road – for now.
Yep, in the wait for full vehicle automation, you’ll be wishing you had your very own chauffeur so you can try this out.
CES is not just about the big companies; I also like to see what the startups are up to.
Here’s a company I’ve profiled previously in our weekly newsletter.
Car IQ has created a payment solution developed for vehicles and fleets that enables vehicles to transact securely and autonomously with payment networks, banks, and merchants without the need for a credit card.
The payment solution comes from a patented machine identity verification process that allows vehicles and machines to connect to payment networks, physical infrastructures, and mobility platforms.
This means vehicles can automatically initiate and complete payments for services such as tolls, fuel, parking, and more.
It’s easy to see this being a huge deal to fleet managers, automotive OEMs, car-sharing services, ride-sharing platforms, and commercial fleets.
Dashcams are an easy and insurance-friendly way to improve driver awareness and accident prevention. However, frequent false alarms can do more harm than good. They can cause driver distraction and irritation and are a missed opportunity to support drivers in making roads safer.
In response, Nextbase has partnered with Humanising Autonomy (also featured in our newsletter) using their innovative Behaviour AI Platform to provide ADAS perception to the Nextbase iQ product line.
Their new in-car smart dashcams have forward-facing and inward-facing cameras to protect front and passengers. There’s also an optional rear window camera to protect the back of the vehicle.
These promise the ability to deliver driver alerts much earlier and with a higher degree of accuracy than other ADAS systems available on the market.
Drivers are empowered with real-time collision warnings, accurate blind spot detection for rear- or side-facing cameras, and it will enable up to a 10x reduction in false positives.