Top 5 Most Talked About Automotive Topics at CES 2017

Automotive Innovation Generates Industry Buzz

At the beginning of every year, the most innovative consumer electronics companies in the world gather in Las Vegas to unveil and compete for buzz around their latest creations. In recent years, as automobiles have continued to look more like consumer electronics than mere transportation options, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has become the backdrop for the latest innovations in the automotive industry – setting the pace for new vehicle and industry developments we can expect to see over the course of this year’s international auto shows.

 As in previous years, CES 2017 featured several new product introductions that generated significant buzz across mainstream media outlets – as well as throughout both the international consumer electronics and automotive industries. Here is CarCareCONNECT’s rundown of what attendees thought of this year’s big bets on the future of the automobile innovation:

  1. Toyota Concept-i

Toyota introduced its Concept-i car, which includes Yui, an artificial intelligence driving assistant. Yui is able to read the driver’s emotions and translate that data directly to the car so that the Concept-i can anticipate the driver’s next move and react accordingly. In other words, the driver is ultimately in control of driving, but if the Concept-i feels the driver is upset, tired or is feeling an emotion that could negatively impact their driving, the Concept-i will take control of the wheel and get the driver safely to their destination. According to Toyota, the Concept-i seeks to “enhance the relationship between car and driver” to make the driving experience more enjoyable – and presumably, more safe.

  1. NVIDIA’s Self-Driving Car

Self-driving technology was a major trend at CES, though the trend did little to alleviate the long taxi lines outside the convention center. The NVIDIA self-driving car, which NVIDIA affectionately calls “BB8,” stood out among the field of self-driving car announcements. BB8 uses the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, which is the “world’s most advanced self-driving platform,” allowing the car to learn how to drive itself. The DRIVE PX 2 is basically a supercomputer that uses information from the sensors around the outside of the car to interpret information from its surroundings and locate potential obstacles so that the car can navigate the roads safely. With this self-driving platform, BB8 learned how to do everything that the average driver would do, like stay within the traffic lines, merge onto highways, and slow into wide turns. BB8 took only four days to learn how to function like a human driver on the road. 


  1. BMW Augmented Reality Dealerships

With the touch of a smartphone, customers can experience BMW dealerships in new ways with BMW’s augmented reality dealerships. Andrea Castronovo, vice president of BMW, stated, “In situations where the desired product isn’t available on the spot, this visualization is the next best thing.” With the augmented reality technology, customers can interact with the cars as if they were sitting in front of them – and even allows customers to virtually customize the cars via the AR experience. The AR technology is currently being tested in different BMW dealership locations across the world, and BMW eventually plans to make the app available worldwide in the Google Play app store. When downloaded, the app will create a Pokémon Go-esque augmented reality where customers can view the cars right in front of them, no matter what their location.

  1. Faraday Future F91

Eco-friendly meets speedy in the new Faraday Future 91. Faraday Future boasts that its new FF91 can travel more than 360 miles on a single charge, making it one of the most durable car batteries available. This all-electric car uses four motors that combine to give the FF91 over 1000 horsepower, which is why the FF91 beats out competitors like the Tesla Model S P100D. The car can go from 0 to 60mph in 2.39 seconds. It is currently still in the prototype phase, and while the official price has not yet been set, Faraday Future fans can reserve their FF91 online.


  1. Ford Alexa Integration

And you thought ordering a pizza was the coolest thing you could do with Amazon’s Alexa technology? Ford announced that it will be collaborating with Amazon to bring the wildly popular Alexa technology to your future Ford vehicle. Alexa is the voice-activated digital assistant that comes with the Amazon Echo smart speaker. By saying “Hey Alexa,” Alexa is activated and ready to perform tasks like looking up the weather or playing your favorite song. Ford is integrating Alexa into its vehicles to allow drivers to use voice commands to play music, begin navigation and even control their home’s lights and garage doors, all hands free from the comfort of their car. When connected with the user’s Ford, Alexa can also do things like start the engine and lock the user’s car using voice commands to the Amazon Echo. 


Aside from the automotive industry, other companies released some interesting technologies at CES this year. Among these were a smart toaster, smart toilet, smart pillow and smart toothbrush:

  • Griffin Technology announced its new “Griffin Home” smart appliance line, which includes plans for a smart toaster. With the Griffin Connected Toaster, users can control temperature, personalize their bread type, and set an exact toasting time to ensure that their bread comes out perfectly toasted.  
  • Toto’s NEOREST WASHLET is the best toilet you never knew you needed. This toilet breaks the bank coming in at a hefty $10,000, but its self-cleaning capabilities, heated seat and automatic lifting and lowering seat make you wonder how you could ever go back to a regular toilet.
  • ZEEQ is looking to take your sleeping experience to a whole new level with the ZEEQ Smart Pillow. The Smart Pillow can stream music to lull the user to sleep, and then monitor the user’s snoring and analyze sleep quality to make sure that the user wakes up feeling as well rested as possible.
  • The Ara smart toothbrush by Kolibree is sure to make your next dentist visit a breeze. The Ara smart toothbrush monitors your brushing and then sends that data to an app that will show you exactly what spots you’re missing. Ara will even send you a weekly brushing performance report with the dates, times and durations of your brushes, and give you an overall brushing quality score.

The Takeaway

If one thing is for certain, the days of you and I relying exclusively on human operation are drawing to a close. Whether driver assist or complete automation, it’s likely our daily commute will get easier in the years to come. The jury is still out on whether or not these technologies will make driving safer for consumers or whether an increased reliance on artificial intelligence will simply make us all horrible drivers. For those of us who drive long distances to and from work each day, it’s hard not to fantasize a little bit about how a car might pick us up and drive us to work while we read the morning paper or catch a few more Zs before arriving to work.

As far as the automotive repair industry is concerned, it’s clear technicians will need even more new skills to be able to repair this new wave of technologically-advanced vehicles to stay competitive with the dealers who market and sell them. If robots don’t take over all that work for us before then.


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