5 trends in automotive electronics coming to your next car

Insiders at Consumer Telematics Show reveal the future

Published: January 07, 2014 10:30 AM

Carmakers, telecommunications companies, hardware and software providers, and various others with a stake in the future of connectivity in cars all gathered at the Consumer Telematics Show in Las Vegas, on the eve of the CES 2014. Attendees at this industry-only conference gathered to network and talk about where the industry is headed.

Here are a few of the themes we heard repeatedly during CTS that are likely to have an impact on new cars coming soon. (See our complete CES 2014 coverage.)

1)    Automakers are finally starting to get out of the way. The fast moving world of car connectivity moves much more quickly than the typical five-year development cycle of new cars. Not only should carmakers not try to keep up, they can’t. For years, automakers resisted this, but that’s changing. Industry experts say their surveys indicate the majority of consumers think that’s just fine and want their car act as an extension of their phone for music, contacts, navigation, and more.

2)    You may soon be able to download software updates to your car. Consumers are accustomed to their phones performing regular software updates on a daily basis without their intervention or a visit to the phone store, so why can’t the same be the case with their cars? It can (filed under "Tesla"), and it will. Nobody wants the hassle and expense of going to a dealer for a fix the car can do itself.

3)    Your preferences will go with you. Ford Sync led the way with phone integration in cars; expect the convergence of the two to continue. As cars become more adaptable, expect your favorite radio stations, temperature settings, destinations, seat settings, and more to travel with you via your phone. And that applies to any car, whether it’s your own, a friend’s, or even a rental as carmakers adapt to the car sharing movement.

4)    As you travel, so do your ads. Yup, nothing is free. Industry analysts say one of the reasons Google is so interested in the automotive space is that it already knows where you’re going, and chances are, what you like to buy. By combining the two, Google can target advertising to sell you stuff along the way. And that’s where its highly touted Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership between Google and major automakers announced this week, comes in.

5)    Parking: The next frontier. Surveys by the industry watcher Gartner indicate that 30 percent of motorists want parking info in their cars. Now that navigation, weather, and traffic information are readily available, urban and suburban drivers are looking for help with that last piece of the puzzle: where to dump the car. Expect it to become more widely available as the infrastructure catches up, and even the opportunity to pay from the car so you can get out and go.

Learn how drivers feel about today's infotainment systems.

—Jim Travers

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