A feature story further back in this issue talks about trends and activities in the connected car space. But I wanted to provide this late-breaking update on connected cars from the CES (News - Alert) show I attended in early January.
Part of what made CES amazing was that it was the most like a car show of any event other than, well, a car show. There was the amazing Corvette Sting Ray, the wonderful BMW i3, the really cool Audi technology showcase, and the first commercially available self-driving car launched. Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm (News - Alert) were well represented behind most of these launches, and the merging of consumer electronics and cool cars is clearly ongoing and what is resulting is amazing. Here are some highlights.
Corvette Sting Ray
OK. I saw this beautiful car and my mouth dropped open and my brain went into buy, buy, buy mode. This is just a pretty car, but what makes it amazing is it has a built-in race tracking system. This consists of a camera and intelligence that records your drive on a race track and then reports it back (when you aren’t driving) like a review of a PlayStation or Xbox game.
This is like the best of both worlds: You get the feedback of a video game, and you get it from actually driving on a real racetrack. The car is pretty amazing too, decent power, an updated classic Stingray look, and an engine sound to die for. I saw this car at the preview and I was already drooling.
This Intel (News - Alert)-backed car, I was all set to hate, until I drove it. You see I’ve driven a Tesla S and lusted after the i8 BMW electric hybrid, and the BMW i3 looked like a car for wimps. But you know what? After driving it, I actually think it is a better electric car than the others. It actually accelerated very quickly, handled decently and, here is the thing, it was small enough to park and you wouldn’t worry about it. The thing about the Tesla is the car is huge and electrics are best in cities where there is a massive lack of huge parking spaces.
The i8 is not only big, but it looks like a supercar, which means you’ll be sweating leaving it anyplace but your garage. The i3 is small, far more affordable, and because it is a compact, far less likely to be dinged or damaged if you left it out at night. So it’s actually a better solution and if you get a chance to drive one, you’ll likely find it better than you thought. The only thing was the seats could use some work in the lumbar support area, as they were a tad uncomfortable.
Audi Tech Showcase
Audi was getting a lot of attention at the show thanks to help from NVIDIA (News - Alert) and Qualcomm. NVIDIA does the graphics for the AV system in the car and the images are wonderful. It is like having a high-end tablet in the dash, and you really appreciate it in the car. NVIDIA was showcasing a future technology that I expect Audi to pick up which virtualizes the dash in such realism that you can’t tell the metal isn’t metal and the wood isn’t wood, it is rendered.
This means at some future point you’ll be able to select between a dash that looks like it came out of a classic car, a car of the future, or, for me, a steam punk car just by changing a setting. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Qualcomm was demonstrating the connectivity side of the car and showcasing how a connected car could provide much more up-to-date information, streaming music more seamlessly, and connecting folks’ tablets to the Internet through the car’s Wi-Fi system.
The World’s First Commercial Self-Driving Car
Granted, you won’t drive this to work, it is more for riding around a golf course or in Florida by folks older than I am. But it could be ideal for those who are too old to drive and who are too drunk to drive a golf cart. You know who you are. The Navia is from France and while it isn’t the sexiest or fastest electric car, it is likely the smartest. And while it is really more like a shuttle, it starts us down a road where we can nap while driving. I’m pretty sure there are a ton of people already doing this, but at least with this car they won’t end up in my trunk.
Erik Linask is group editorial director for TMC, the parent company of M2M Evolution magazine. James Brehm of Compass Intelligence (News - Alert) will return to the Navigating M2M column spot in our 2q2014 issue.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi