CES features digital aids for driving
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 7:02 AM
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Original Print Headline: High-tech on the highway
LAS VEGAS - A huge number of the estimated 20,000 products unveiled during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show are capable of interacting with tablets and smartphones.
Cars are no exception, as automotive companies have turned out to demonstrate new and updated apps, vehicle control systems and even real-time traffic sensing technologies.
General Motors led the pack with the Chevrolet MyLink, a series of premium entertainment and connectivity systems that was selected for an innovation award from the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade group that produces CES.
MyLink radios feature a touchscreen panel that can play music from smartphones, USB devices, radio stations, SiriusXM satellite radio and a variety of music apps, including Pandora and TuneIn, which can play more than 70,000 radio stations from across the globe.
General Motors continues to support and upgrade OnStar, its navigation and assistance service. Steve Ross, a GM representative, said the company is in the process of testing new capabilities for OnStar's RemoteLink smartphone app.
"We're getting feedback from the audience to see what people prefer," he said.
New tested capabilities include integration with calendar services so appointments will pop up and provide navigation to get to the locations.
OnStar's app may also include integration with social networks to tell friends where you're going, integration with other apps such as Yelp and remote unlocking.
Chrysler also expanded its navigation, dubbed uConnect, with a permanent 3G cellular connection that can turn a car into a wireless hotspot and allow for texting and apps. The system would also allow for remote door controls and remote starting via an app, Chrysler representative Tara Quist said.
"You can lock the doors anywhere," she said. "You don't have to be at your car."
Hyundai's Blue Link features navigation that also reveals points of interest along the way, real-time traffic updates and restaurant ratings. It can also be upgraded to provide roadside assistance and voice text messaging.
Blue Link can also stream music, pictures and videos, and it has an app for locking and remote starts.
Lexus employed a different tactic and demonstrated its advanced active safety research vehicle.
This vehicle has an array of sensors that can interact with other sensors on roadsides. The targeted result is a car that can detect nearby vehicles and pedestrians, and pick up information about the road.
Final numbers: The Consumer Electronics Association announced Tuesday that 2013 CES is the largest in the technology show's history, with 3,250 exhibitors spread out over 1.9 million square feet of space.
CES continues at the Las Vegas Convention Center and convention space in casinos across the Las Vegas Strip through Friday.
Healthy tech: Fitness apps are abundant at CES. Several dozen companies are showing off heart monitors, tracking systems and more.
But one of the more interesting innovations at the show comes from Fitbit, a popular maker of portable fitness devices. Unlike the easy-to-lose chip form of the regular Fitbit, Fitbit Flex is transformed into a slim, colorful armband.
Although it doesn't have the screen other Fitbit models have, the Flex still tracks steps taken, calories burned, sleep and other activities. It sends the information over Bluetooth to a smartphone, tablet or other computer.
Robotic advances: Robots aren't too hard to find at the show. What's harder is narrowing down which ones to talk about in my limited time and space.
I'd say a massage robot is noteworthy. The WheeMe looks like a small wheeled bug with two long antennae that rotate around and rub on your back. The finned wheels also knead you while keeping a grip on your back. This one retails for $70.
Then there's the Mondo Spider. Hop into the seat of this contraption, which is about the size of a Mini Cooper, grab the chrome skull-tipped sticks and laugh like a maniac as you rampage along on eight legs.
The Mondo Spider is an experimental concept that won't be commercially available. Considering how some people drive around Tulsa, that's probably for the best.
A Lexus SL 600 Integrated Safety driverless research vehicle is displayed Wednesday at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Sensors and cameras attached to the car can detect what is around it. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press
A General Motors representative opens a compartment inside a Chevy Impala while demonstrating the MyLink connection and entertainment system Wednesday at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press