Most normal people don’t really care all that much about CES, the Consumer Electronics Show that gives technology companies an excuse to play Nerds Gone Wild in Las Vegas every January. For those of us not involved with the debauchery of the show itself, the only indication that something extraordinary is happening is brief mentions in the news about the weird new gadgets on display. This year more than any other, however, those weird new gadgets have included cars.
It may seem strange that cars are now considered “consumer electronics”. Still, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. After all, to most people, a car is just a transportation utility. And with cars being filled with more gizmos and gadgets than ever, they’re about as much electronics as your cell phone.
So what’s the latest and greatest on the car front at CES this year? Two things: electric cars, and self-driving cars. We’ll talk about the electric vehicles in a follow-up blog post, and use this one to focus on some of the cooler things being shown in vegas.
The biggest piece of news, in case you haven’t heard yet, is autonomous vehicles. There are a lot of them. Of particular note is Audi, which “drove” an A7 from Palo Alto to Las Vegas almost entirely without human input. That’s not terribly exciting – most of the drive is long stretches of barren highway, and Google has been testing self-driving cars for a while now. What IS exciting about this news is that Audi estimates that this technology will be available in commercially sold vehicles within 3-5 years. That’s much sooner than many people were expecting, and could make commutes much more pleasant for a lot of people.
Other big news? Touch and gesture control. Volkswagen lead the way with the Golf R Touch, a concept car that has replaced all the dials, knobs, switches, and physical controls with a combination of touch and gesture controls. Gesture controls like swiping your hand backwards near the roof to make the sunroof open. Pretty cool stuff, though we wonder whether having to do the macarena in traffic to get the radio to change stations is the safest possible option.
So now we ask you guys: what’s the coolest car news you’ve heard from CES, and what are you looking forward to the most?