CES 2015: Where the connected car became a tech industry darling

As the doors closed at the Las Vegas Convention Centre and its countless exhibitors tidied away their wares, it is clear that the connected car is at the forefront of the most compelling developments in the technology industry.

Technology firms have earmarked automotive as a sizable growth area and are investing heavily in developing products for car manufacturers to implement in one or all of their models.

Nuance, a company best known for its voice-transcribing software for desktop PCs, is a prime example of this strategy shift. The Burlington-headquartered firm used CES to showcase a biometrics update to Dragon Drive.

Infotainment overhaul

Elsewhere Nvidia has been steadily expanding its auto arm to build on the graphics card business it was most known for in the past. The company’s latest additions, the Drive PX and Drive CX, are geared towards the infotainment market.

Nvidia was joined in the circuitry stakes by mobile chipset designer Qualcomm, which debuted the Snapdragon 602A. The quadcore chip, GPU and digital signal processor combo is said to lap up in-car multitasking.

Along with infotainment’s visuals, audio is also becoming more intelligent. Harman, a company that specialises in this area, has conjured some impressive technology that creates zones so that each passenger can listen to their own audio.

It would be difficult not to include driverless technology in this roundup with many manufacturers parading their own take to attendees. BMW was first out of the blocks with its pre-show annnouncement, but what about some of the other technology on display at CES?

Intel eye tracking

Partnering with Seeing Machines, Intel has taken the standard eye-tracking solution, that you might see used in a company’s marketing department, and applied it to a new concept that Dr Wolfgang Ziebart, Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering director, was demonstrating in Las Vegas.

"The attention-monitoring technology we are showcasing at CES has huge potential for road safety. If the driver's gaze moves towards the infotainment screen or out of a side window, and the car identifies this, then the system could alert the driver to hazards earlier,” he said.

“DMS could even enhance settings in safety systems like Autonomous Emergency Braking, to reflect the driver's lack of attention. As the car drives up to a hazard, the brakes could engage autonomously sooner because the car realises the driver has not seen the danger ahead."

Intel is said to be offering the data to manufacturers to do with as they please, but it was a Jaguar concept at CES that used it for accident prevention. Intel has said that the technology works even when the roof is down and the driver is wearing sunglasses.

Blackberry QNX builds momentum

While Blackberry’s mobile phone business has been faltering, the company has seen success in its in-car software subsidiary QNX. Its booth had various advanced driver assistance systems and infotainment demonstrations for attendess.

QNX had a Jeep Wrangler reference vehicle with traffic sign detection and lane departure warnings to help avoid collisions along with a rear-view display that boots up in less than half of the two-second maximum time mandated by US government agency NHTSA.

Complementing this, the company’s latest cloud platform could let the automotive industry remotely browse vehicle data, log and fault analysis for software troubleshooting and performance optimisation in addition to managing software downloads.

OpenCar app platform hooks up with Mazda

After three years of development, OpenCar has announced its standards-based OpenCar Connect framework, which already has the support of Mazda and the program manager of its Mazda Connect System, Hiroshi Kajiyama, who listed what he sees as its benefits..

“The OpenCar Connect framework supports the creation, management and distribution of any software-defined application including digital dash, car functions such as HVAC, infotainment, telematics and connected devices, all in the Mazda-defined HMI,” he said.

OpenCar wants its framework to connect with other internet of things hardware, includingremote cameras, smart watches, external sensors, home automation and monitoring infrastructure that can all be looped back to infotainment usage scenarios.

So that is it for Connected Car’s roundup of CES 2015, a trade show that has placed itself in direct competition for manufacturer announcements with the likes of the Geneva, Munich and Detroit conferences.

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