Amazing new tech coming to the interior of your car

From vibrating dashboards to see-through sun visors, car cabins are changing fast.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The PHM HealthFront™. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
3 min read

CES 2020 had an amazing amount of fresh in-car cabin tech that will hit showrooms in the next few model years. Here's why haptic gesture, invisible sun visors and vibrating door panels will be on the checklist for your next car.

Bosch Virtual Visor

A smart visor only blocks your view where the sun shines, not where traffic signals and street signs are seen.


Bosch tackled a problem most of us forgot we have: Sun visors block our view of traffic signals and street signs. The company showed a sun visor made from a clear LCD panel with addressable zones. 

A camera watching your face can tell where the sun is hitting it and instructs the visor panel to darken only its regions that will block the sun, leaving the rest transparent so your view is largely unimpeded. Somebody at Bosch was plain thinking and not just reaching for a press release full of AI and 5G. 

Watch this: See the top in-car technologies you'll be buying soon

Meanwhile, Amazon will never make a car, but it's rapidly becoming part of the car business. It announced that you'll soon be able to tell Alexa to pay for gas at over 11,000 ExxonMobil stations. The system knows which station you're visiting via GPS, and you verbally tell Alexa which pump you'll be using

When you're done filling, the pump signals that and payment is processed via the method that's set up in your Amazon account. This won't revolutionize your life, but it will save a small bit of hassle while also putting Amazon into the data flow of one of the last products it doesn't offer.

General Motors, Lamborghini and Rivian all announced they're building Alexa into their cars. Having a smart voice assistant in a car isn't anything new, but having one integrated by the factory means it can also control some vehicle systems like climate, navigation and doors. That, along with the fuel-pay tech, is the beginning of a deeper and very interesting automotive path for Amazon.

Less impressive to me was Amazon's announcement that its Fire TV technology will soon be factory installed in the second row of some FCA and BMW vehicles. I don't know how that's much better than just using your phone or tablet.

While we wait for Byton's first vehicle, the M-Byte, to hit the market, we imagine what we'll use its giant dashboard display for: Premium media content.


Byton cars will feature premium content from ViaccomCBS (CNET's parent company). Why not, the coming M-Byte has the screen real estate for it.


Byton announced it will have content licensed from ViacomCBS (which, as it happens, is CNET's parent company). Clearly this will bear the most fruit when autonomy really arrives (which is an open question as we enter 2020), but points the way to a generally more content-centric experience in cars as recently tested by by Honda and Intel.

Most people don't know that the world's largest phone maker is also a heavy-duty car tech firm: Samsung got there with the 2017 acquisition of Harman, a huge provider of cabin-centric tech to the auto industry.  Samsung showed some examples of how its Harman-powered car tech will lean on 5G, which would normally be a nebulous statement. However, in Samsung's case is worth watching as it's perhaps the only consumer tech company with major market share in every category of our electronic lives.

Continental has been working on turning door panels into speakers for a while now, but it said at CES that it's closing in on carmaker adoption and has teamed with AKG to do the sound tuning of this novel technology, giving it more audiophile cred than the Continental brand alone could confer.

Continental Ac2ated Sound

The dashboard, A-pillars, door panels and more can all be turned into speakers by this technology.


When it comes to market (initially in cars you and I can't afford, most likely), it will liberate auto designers from the tyranny of speakers that take up lots of cabin space and weight. Bonus: We occupants get a more natural sound stage than can be achieved with a few small speakers at symmetrical points around the car's interior.

Remember Leap Motion? The startup helped kick off the consumer gesture recognition era in 2013, but was recently acquired by haptic feedback firm Ultrahaptics to form Ultraleap

Ultrahaptics invisible haptic feedback

By using ultrasound emitters, Ultraleap is able to create the sensation of touch when your hand is in mid-air.


The resulting in-car gesture-control prototype has noncontact haptics, generated by ultrasound. The combination makes sense, allowing you to move your hand to do something without having to take your eyes off the road to see if it's working. Ultraleap still needs to develop more specific in-air haptics beyond the simple vibration it demonstrated to me, but if it can do that, it might rescue gesture control from the "superfluous" category of car tech.