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2010 car tech and GPS preview

Now that the wait is almost over, just what should we expect from the world of car technology at CES? Here's our best guess...

It used to be that the SEMA Show was the biggest mobile electronics show, but this year the usual suspects in the in-car electronics biz decided to stand back and wait for the new big show: CES 2010.

Now that the wait is almost over, just what should we expect from the world of car technology at CES? Here's our best guess:

Nuvi 1690 displaying gauges screen
The EcoRoute ESP will connect your Garmin Nuvi to your vehicle's diagnostics port. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

You down with OBD?
On-board diagnostics connections have been required on vehicles for almost two decades. This mysterious window into your car's brain has been the best kept secret of mechanics and tuners, until now. We're starting to see more and more consumer electronics that take advantage of the diagnostics data provided by your car to perform all sorts of neat tricks, such as provide fuel economy data or keep tabs on teen drivers.

Earlier this year, Garmin gave us a peak at a system called EcoRoutes ESP that interfaces with a vehicle's OBD port to deliver real-time fuel economy and engine operation data to a Nuvi navigation device via Bluetooth. We expect that Garmin will be ready to share more information as to how ESP will affect the navigation experience when it arrives at the CES show floor.

GPS vs. smartphones, round 2
2009 was supposed to be the year that GPS-enabled smartphones finally crushed standalone navigation devices. However, instead of just rolling over and giving up, the portable navigation market has innovated. At CES 2010, we expect the battle to heat up with a number of new Internet-connected navigation devices and smartphone cradles.

TomTom has been quiet about its CES showings, but we suspect that--with a foot in both navigation worlds--it has something exciting up its sleeve.

Ford Mulally at CES
Steve Ballmer and Alan Mulally at CES 2009. Corinne Schulze/CNET

Internet radio in your dashboard
In a relatively short period of time, the preferred in-car media of choice has gone from tapes to CDs to iPods. However, 2010 could be the year that we make the jump to the cloud with a number of rumors pointing at Internet radio coming to a car stereo near you. For example, Alpine is set to unveil the first-ever digital media receiver to offer direct control over the Pandora iPhone app.

However, the OEMs may not be completely left out of the Internet radio game, with Ford Sync being rumored as another possible platform for Pandora streaming. Perhaps Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO Alan Mulally will confirm this rumor during his address on the opening day of the show.