We’re looking back at one of the biggest events in the technology calendar: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The event, held each year in Las Vegas, sees companies across industries, showcasing their latest applications of technology. This week, we’re focusing on 5 innovations revealed by automotive manufacturers at CES including gesture-operated vehicles, automated parking, smartwatches and hydrogen-fueled cars and self-driving cars.
Gesture operated cars
Gesture control has already come to gaming but it looks that the technology is making its mark on the automotive industry too. At CES, Volkswagen presented its Golf R Touch: “the first compact model in the world whose control elements are operated using hand gestures”. The gesture technology built into the vehicle has replaced all physical switches, allowing drivers to control the infotainment, climate and environment controls at the swipe of a hand.
Volkswagen unveiled “Trained Parking”– a new concept to enhance its semiautomatic parking technology – at CES this year. “Trained Parking” uses a front-facing camera and software to detect patterns in the user’s parking. So the more you repeat a manoeuvre in your driving or parking, VW’s system can start to “learn” this pattern until the car can perform the parking pattern automatically—be that with the driver sitting inside the car or observing from outside.
Wearable technology was one of FreshMinds’ top trends to watch in 2014, and we saw a number of companies innovating in this space last year. The main focus of this was on smart watches, with companies such as LG, Motorola and Apple all announcing plans to launch products in this space. It seems that automotive companies are also tapping into this trend. At CES, Audi introduced a custom-designed smartwatch which uses NFC technology to enable users to communicate with their cars. The full features of the smartwatch have not yet been announced, but one use case will be to enable drivers to lock and unlock their cars by using the technology.
Not strictly unveiled at CES, but a crucial announcement from the Show the none the less: Toyota is opening up its patents for hydrogen-fueled cars to competitors. In a move reminiscent of Tesla’s actions last year, Toyota has stated that rivals won’t pay royalties for using any of its 5,680 patents relating to hydrogen technology. This move is likely to be part of a bid to increase the development of the technology and therefore boost the market for such vehicles, benefiting Toyota. New fuel sources have already paved the way for product development within the automotive industry; we are eager see how this is bolstered by Toyota’s patent sharing.
Driverless cars were a hot topic in 2014, with both automotive manufacturers and new market entrants like Google testing self-driving vehicles. This looks set to continue in 2015 as ever more automotive manufacturers experiment with the technology and adapt it to meet the needs of their customers. At CES, Mercedes revealed the F015, a concept car complete with leather cushions and swivel lounge seats to appeal to the luxury segment.