At CES, XM satellite radio was being secretive, encasing its floor area in black walls. But we swung an invite to the inner sanctum and got treated to a smorgasbord of new XM services available now and in the near future. The first thing our XM spokesman showed us was a whole new interface for XM's music channels. We've seen plenty of boring fonts for XM radio interfaces in cars and car stereos, but we've never seen the cool graphics for channel identification and the backgrounds that XM showed us. According to XM, these graphics are part of the current channel datastream, but most manufacturers haven't taken advantage of them in their displays.
Then we switched to a weather display, some of which we've seen in the 2008 Cadillac CTS. But XM makes more graphic data available, including weather maps of regions showing rain, cloudiness, and other weather data. After that, we were treated to nice graphical interfaces for sports scores and stock quotes, two data services offered by XM, but not yet picked up by many manufacturers. It got really interesting when XM showed us some future services. The company wants to have data channels for gas prices, flight times, and even available parking spaces. With this data integrated into a navigation system, you could look for the lowest gas prices in your immediate area or see if the flight you are rushing to catch is delayed. Much of what XM showed us was about the potential of its data feed, and how companies building XM satellite receivers can use it.