Coolest new innovations coming to the inside of your car

Smart car doors, plastic that doesn’t squeak and the end of lost french fries.

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
2 min read

The car tech you touch the most is that inside the car, and innovations there are reinventing parts that haven't changed since your grandmother was driving.

Those ugly, dirt-attracting lift struts on the rear hatch of your SUV or wagon are becoming integrated and nearly invisible. Stratec's Invis-A-Rise actuator arms are being used on some minivan tailgates as well as powering new drop-down tailgates on pickup trucks. The biggest challenge is deciding if you're still a "real" truck person if your tailgate doesn't drop open with a clattering crash!

Watch this: See the newest innovations coming to the cabin of your car

Mechanical door latches haven't changed much in decades, but electromechanical servo latches from Kiekert work with either a touch or signal from a phone, telling the latch to pop open. The system does have a mechanical backup for operation when the car's battery is drained or if the vehicle is in an accident. 

Once you get a car door open, what's to stop it from swinging too far and dinging something? Kiekert's iProtect Automated Door Swing technology uses sensors to park the door just shy of what it might hit, instead of stopping it at a few preset positions, like today's old fashioned door checks.

Dashboard materials are getting quieter: Hushlloy anti-squeak plastic is a material for interior parts that doesn't squeak when it rubs against other interior plastics. And Auria's new acoustic molding material is a light, fiber-based substance that turns dashboards into effective sound walls while also making those big components pounds lighter. 

If you've noticed that your car's displays are hard to read through polarized sunglasses, Continental has a solution: A new head-up display module that projects an image that is immune to polarization cancellation. Most cars with a HUD have been prohibitively expensive, but one of the largest HUD screens in the industry today is in the Toyota Camry.

As gear selectors morph into creative new shapes and designs, some people are convinced they are becoming dangerous or even deadly. GHSP's automatic park selector technology puts the shifter back into Park if you forget, by monitoring things like seat belt state, door position and key position. 

And if you're tired of excavating antique french fries from the gaps down the side of your car's seats, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors has designed the Catchbin. It's a slim little bin that is custom designed to span the gap between a car's seat and console, mounting via magnets for easy retrieval. It's dishwasher-safe, because sometimes a greasy french fry is the cleanest thing you'll find down there.