Alexa Will Take You Home
Most carmakers offer some way to control your car’s infotainment system via voice, but none — not one — has been a slam dunk. So manufacturers have been turning to Apple (CarPlay), Google (Android Auto), and now Amazon to provide more seamless solutions. Toyota is the latest manufacturer to introduce Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice control to some of its vehicles (Ford, BMW, and Volkswagen have already announced partnerships). Select 2018 Toyota and Lexus rides will get the tech, with more coming in 2019. By speaking to Alexa, drivers and passengers should be able to control the car’s infotainment systems—including changing navigation destinations and selecting songs—and also control their smart home devices from afar.
Cars Will Read Your Mind
Though you won’t see the technology in showrooms anytime soon, Nissan detailed how the company is developing “B2V”, or “brain to vehicle” communication. The system takes input from a headband-like device that detects brain wave activity, and can then prep the car for an action you intend to take, such as turning the wheel a fraction of a second faster than you’re able to. Nissan says it could also detect your discomfort during autonomous driving mode and adjust the car’s suspension setup or autonomous driving style on the fly. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s an interesting concept—and a kind of hedge on autonomous driving, preparing for the inevitability that even systems far off in the future won’t always pilot to our exact preferences.
Ford Will Fight Traffic with Waze
If you’re a Waze addict (or just hate traffic), some welcome news arrived from Ford: vehicles shipping with its already-impressive SYNC 3 infotainment systems can now use the car’s own display for Waze mapping and navigation, along with its sound system for voice cues. That means you won’t have to look down at your phone’s smaller screen to get the crowdsourced lowdown on an upcoming backup—or how to get around it.
Digital Cockpits Will Get Sleeker
The name Samsung might not be on the badge of the cars that we drive, but its technology increasingly might be inside them. The Korean company arrived up at CES to show off the results of its recent acquisition of Harman by showcasing their shared Digital Cockpit platform, which automakers will buy and adapt. Like many current systems, it pairs a large touchscreen and some tactile controls, but unlike any other system thus far, it can display apps running on its Android OS on four screens. What this points towards: the cockpit of the future will be even more customizable and personalized than you might have thought.
Your Car Will See the Unseen
Ford and telecom chip maker Qualcomm announced a continuation of their partnership in the development of cellular “Vehicle to Everything” (or C2VX) technology. In some ways, C2VX will kind of be like an X-ray vision for your car: it uses a chip in your car that can communicate with other cars on the road and receive data from infrastructure like traffic lights or road signs up ahead, alerting you to problems like an accident or stopped car — even if you can’t see it. Trials of the tech will take place in San Diego and Detroit.