Amazing new tech coming to the interior of your car
From vibrating dashboards to see-through sun visors, car cabins are changing fast.
Brian CooleyEditor 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.
ExpertiseAutomotive technology, smart home, digital health.Credentials
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
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.
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.
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.
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.