CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW: CNET editors cover the Next Big Thing
CES auto tech wrap-up
By Rafe Needleman
(January 11, 2005)
Car tech at CES gets its own arena, the North Hall. It's a different world from the rest of CES. The competing bass lines from the speaker manufacturers and systems installers give the whole space a street grittiness you don't get in the other halls. But the speaker thumpers are just across the aisle from buttoned-down new-tech companies, such as satellite radio vendors XM and Sirius, digital radio company iBiquity, phased-array satellite antenna vendors TracVsion and RaySat, and other interesting technology vendors.
And despite all the cool hardware on display (car buffs were drooling over the tricked-out custom rides, not to mention the gorgeous Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the floor), the most interesting auto tech at CES was the new digital services that are becoming available for cars. iBiquity won our Next Big Thing Award in the automotive category; it's a new digital radio format that will soon be coming to you from the local radio stations you know and love. In addition to dramatically better quality, iBiquity HD Radio will also allow broadcasters to send multiple programs to you in a signal station and overlay data, such as song information, weather, traffic, news, and so on. And it's free to receive, unlike XM and Sirius.
The other big thing that's just coming out is satellite traffic data, first from XM and now from Sirius, too. New cars and aftermarket navigation systems will be able to show you not just how to get where you want to go, but which route is the least congested. Some will even automatically route you around jams and accidents. Pioneer has the first aftermarket NavTraffic system, but by CES 2006, this incredibly useful feature will be everywhere.
And if receiving digital data isn't enough for you, check out the RaySat satellite antenna, which, when it ships this year, will give your van or SUV's passengers full Internet access from a moving vehicle, from any location in North America with a view of the sky. Car tech is definitely looking up.
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