CES: Day 2 (day 1 for me)
If theres a better place for this feel free to move it...
So I started off the day with a panel discussion on the "Connected Car" with representatives from SEMA, AutoNet, ATX, DENSO and Kia. I missed the beginning of the panel discussion but what I saw was rather embarrassing. They identified the future as internet connected vehicles either via tethering (using their own apps) or built in 3G connections. Kia really pushed their UVO system (more on that later) as a competitor to Fords sync which are both built on the same Microsoft platform. SEMA also pushed a grid connected car which they expected to arrive by 2018 (though with no plans to make it happen-just the idea that it was the future). Their big technology which was also featured heavily by a few manufacturers (including the SEMA showcar [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvRcPVZhDT4[/url]) was FLIR ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndNjiQ2araQ[/media]) which is expected in a few aftermarket systems later this year.
What was missing, and was made very clear by a few people in the audience asking questions, was any innovation whatsoever. Voice recognition and other safety-improving, eyes off the screen technology was nowhere on their to do list. The trend seemed to be add an internet connection and see what happens. The kia UVO system for example will allow third party widgets to be added.
The trend continued to PNDs....Garmin updated its maps and added an internet connection ($5/month) to deliver flight info, gas prices and google local search but again nothing innovative. Still no A2DP or AVRCP bluetooth capability or any type of infotainment functionality.
Magellan which probably has the worst looking nav I saw at the show added PBAP support to some of its maestro series and updated the maps-that was it....its almost like the company stopped trying.
Pioneer surprisingly had one of the better PNDs of the bunch. Build in A2DP, AVRCP, a smooth routing engine and support for music and movie playback from sd cards, an iphone or even Pandora radio (with an iphone app).
For the first time I would have to say in-vehicle technology is doing the real innovation. Ford Sync continued to impress: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,4905917.story while the UVO was in my opinion basic at best ([media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kid-EPiVmyk[/media])
I expected to see the end to the carPC here but instead I saw a scattered batch of decent technology but certainly nothing that jumped out as this years "must have product".
A few other cool technologies really picked up from what I saw last year. On-the-move TV will be the big in-car technology of 2010 with 4 different companies I saw today alone offering DTV receivers (aka mobile-ATSC).
There was also some great innovation from the competing cell-phone based technologies offering an impressive 60 channels.
And of course FLIR mentioned above.
More to come in the next few days and sorry in advance for the grammar, its being done on an android phone for now.
A few of those other cool technologies deserve some mentioning...
Theres a company called BI Automotive (http://www.bi-automotive.de/) that is working on getting US distributors for its two products. The first one are battery powered laser engraved led sill-plates that were a very reasonable $100 per pair with an estimated battery life of 6-8 years. The second one and of far more use to carPC enthusiasts is a universal connector. It has 12 pins which can be used for CAN-Bus, antenna, power, usb, audio or just about anything and the other half of the universal connector is a dock for just about any device-PND, phone, etc. I had some really cool ideas for futures uses but more on this later.
The other one was a company called Nav-TV (http://www.navtv.com/) which had a full line of in-dash screens and FLIR cameras ready to go. They even have a dash console replacement complete with gauges and a custom screen for GM-LAN equipped vehicles.
Last but not least I talked with the guys from Lilliput (http://www.lilliput.cn/) about whats in the near future for them and have two exciting announcements. The first is that they just released a usb powered monitor. This is huge news as it now allows touchscreen control and power to be supplied by the PC making things just that much easier to get setup. The second is that we should be seeing multi-touch monitors from them in the next 6-9 months.