The famous CES technology Expo, held every year in Las Vegas, always makes headlines for its weird and wacky new inventions, and this year has been no exception. There have been plenty of futuristic visions on show, from the sublime to the ridiculous, including smart planks of wood, machines that fold your laundry and even ball-shaped personal assistant robots that are not a million miles away from Star Wars’ BB8. If you can imagine it, you can probably find it at CES, along with plenty that goes way beyond your imagination.
The new ideas on show covered all areas of work, rest and play, from home gadgets you never even knew you needed, to the latest leisure technology for the casino industry. Fortunately for motorists, most of the new car tech has been of the less fanciful and more practical variety. So, let’s take a look at some of the better ideas to come out of CES this year.
One of the key areas for new motoring tech is finding ways to improve road safety for all users. Envisics led the way at CES, with a revolutionary new holographic head-up display that projects the dashboard in front of the driver. Much more refined than current heads up units, the Envisics system not only gives you the information you need from your instruments but will also advise you on which lane to be in for your next turn and will even point out landmarks along the way.
“The display is far less distracting than looking down at a traditional dashboard,” explained the fabulously titled Dr. Jamieson Christmas from Envisics. “It keeps the driver’s eyes on the road where they need to be, which results in a big reduction in accidents.”
Another innovative new safety feature was demonstrated by Bosch, who have created a Virtual Visor to keep the sun out of drivers’ eyes. This uses a transparent LED screen, combined with a camera monitoring the driver’s face, to selectively darken only the area of the windscreen needed to protect them from glare. The result is much-improved visibility without the need for bulky, vision-blocking visors.
Combining security with safety, the B-Secur Heartkey steering wheel uses your unique heartbeat signature to identify you as an approved driver. This not only reduces the risk of theft but also ensures that the car will be automatically set up to your personal preferences as soon as you take the wheel. Once you’re underway, the system constantly monitors your stress levels and alertness and will let you know when it is time to take a break.
Big bulky car speakers could soon be a thing of the past, as Continental and Sennheiser have combined to create sounds from the very fabric of your vehicle. The new system uses the vibrations of panels, pillars, and even the roof skin to create sound without speakers. This not only reduces weight but also creates a unique surround sound experience.
Disney and Audi are also working on in-car entertainment, with a new virtual reality concept that ties into the movements of the vehicle, creating a truly immersive entertainment experience for your passengers. You can even take VR a step further by sharing your journey with a virtual passenger. Valeo Voyage puts you in the passenger seat via a VR headset, so you can share the trip and chat to the driver.
Crazy Concept Cars
Of course, the most exciting glimpse of the future at shows like these is always the concept cars. BMW, famous for cars such as the Z4 Concept, showed off their luxury i3Urban Suite, which gives a single passenger an office on wheels while they are driven around, including everything from coat hangers to cupholders and a desk lamp.
For Fisker, the emphasis was more on sustainability, as they demonstrated their new Ocean SUV, with all-electric power, vegan leather seats and a host of recycled build materials.
Impressive as they were, none of the concept cars could compete with Mercedes Benz. Having teamed up with visionary Avatar director, James Cameron, they revealed their sleek Vision AVTR. Complete with 33 moveable ‘bionic flaps’ on its surface, Avatar inspired wheel rims and a host of other mind-bending features, this was far and away the most exciting motoring tech on show at CES.