Cleverest car tech innovations from CES
One of the best things about going to CES is the opportunity to see not just the latest technology the automakers have to offer, but what’s on tap from their suppliers too. At events such as CES, those innovative companies get a chance to pitch systems of the future to carmakers, well before they are planned for a coming model. Going behind the industry curtain, we saw many potential tech features this year, and below we present the ones we think are simply the coolest and may be on your next new car.
Smart LED high beams
Many carmakers offer automatic high beams, which switch to low beams to ease glare for oncoming traffic, but automatically go back to high beams when the road is clear. It sounds great in theory, but we’ve seen mixed results in testing. Full LED headlights, such as those on the redesigned Cadillac Escalade, use many individual LEDs to create the beam pattern, rather than one or two conventional bulbs. Shown by the supplier Valeo, the full-LED BeaMatic headlights provide high beam light all the time, but selectively shut down individual LEDs to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. An intriguing concept that should help attain a better balance between visibility and glare, such lights are already available in Europe, but lighting laws currently prohibit the use of this technology in the United States. But, that may change.
Eye and facial recognition
The auto suppliers Valeo and Visteon showed systems that can detect who is behind the wheel using eye and or facial recognition to prevent an unauthorized driver from starting the car, or set individual driver preferences, such as seat and mirror positions, radio station presets, and more. Conceivably, this could provide teen safety benefits, for example by setting speed warnings or stereo volume limits when a certain young driver is behind the wheel. The technology can also provide traffic information or allow a driver to adjust the radio with a quick glance at dashboard controls. It can even set off an appropriate warning when it detects drowsiness in a driver’s eyes.
Advanced haptic feedback
Automakers are already using haptic (touch) feedback to make touch screens easier to use without looking by generating a fingertip vibration when a virtual button is pushed. One problem is, if all the buttons give identical feedback, it’s hard to know whether you pressed the right one. To address this, Texas Instruments showed us touch screens that provide different types of feedback for different controls, such as two quick vibrations or some lasting longer than others. Expect to see it in new models soon.