The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a smorgasbord of cool, with gadgets and prototypes filling the convention halls for three days. While most of the technology tends towards the small — smart phones, tablets, and wearable computers — one industry that gets major play at the annual conference is decidedly larger and perhaps even more mobile: cars.
With the auto industry in an arms race to have the newest, coolest, most useful technology, CES is the perfect place for car companies to show off their new features and talk about what we’ll be seeing in the coming year in showrooms. With CES underway this week, here’s a few of the most tantalizing things we’ve seen from the auto industry so far.
In-car shopping from GM
This is one that sounds perfect for people who get tired and hungry when they’re driving: GM’s OnStar system is adding a new program called “AtYourService,” in which a human assistant helps with shopping and can even book hotel reservations. The system will offer coupons and information about retailers, plus help find parking. GM even has a partnership set up with Dunkin’ Donuts for deals.
Chevrolet previews the new Volt
Despite lower fuel prices, electric cars continue to capture interest at CES. On Sunday night, GM tried to capitalize on that by giving a sneak peak of a redesigned Chevy Volt. Not much information was available about the plug-in electric car, but journalists were excited to take a look before the car is officially unveiled next week at the Detroit auto show. The Verge notes that this is the first major redesign of the Volt since it debuted in 2007. Among the few details is that the car may come with an extended electric-only driving range, one of the main complaints about the first generation of the model.
Nvidia unveils new chip perfect for cars
Imagine if you’re car’s dashboard had graphics as good as a video game system. That’s what the new chip unveiled by Nvidia is supposed to do, according to CNET. On Sunday, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off the new Tegra X1 processor, which can be used in both tablets and cars. The chip can help with assisted driving, both to avoid crashes and, potentially, for fully automated driving.
Samsung teams up with AT&T on connected cars
In the connected-car game, AT&T is a big player. At CES, it announced that another big player would be joining its team: Samsung. CNET reports that Samsung will be a sponsor of Drive Studio, a connected car lab in Atlanta. Not many details were available, but it is noted that both software and hardware from Samsung are part of the deal. AT&T also announced that five other companies would be adding apps to its platform including Audiobooks.com, which has a library of thousands of audio books .
Chrysler adds new services
Not wanting to be left out, Chrysler also announced new features for its connected car technology today, including a vehicle finder — which sends an exact location of your car to a smartphone app — and a vehicle health report, a monthly e-mail detailing vehicle performance. Chrysler also announced a new smartphone app for Uconnect, its connected car service, allowing easier browsing.