This year, plenty of automakers pulled their full weight into the Consumer Electronics Show. But there were plenty of little guys out there, too, that made us ask "Why didn't someone else think of that sooner?"
Whether big or small, there were a lot of announcements at the show—some bigger than others, some cooler than others. They were spread over 35 football fields worth of space, giving us plenty of other pieces of technology to check out when a major automaker wasn't announcing some newfangled app.
Livio Bluetooth Radio
If you have a smartphone and don't have a new car that will allow you to stream radio from it, the Livio transmitter may just be the best solution. The transmitter plugs into your car's power outlet and runs on a short-range radio frequency to stream your Pandora stations straight from your phone. With it, there's no need to retrofit an ultra-expensive radio head unit into your car.
Mercedes-Benz DICE concept
Think XBox Kinect motion controls. Think Google's self-driving car. Finally, think being connected at all times with everyone and everything you care about. It's all there in Mercedes-Benz's DICE concept. Best of all, the automaker says it all works in reality, to—not for the simulator seen above. So what's holding Mercedes-Benz back? The size of technology, which would probably have to greatly downsize for it to fit in a car. Officials say it should show up in time for the 2032 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Says a friend texting me from the Great White Northeast watching CES on TV: "Just what I need...a way to get malware in my car." Ah, yes, but mbrace2 is so much more than that. It's an infotainment system that allows you to check Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, and the internet, among many other features, from the comfort of your $100,000-plus 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster. Yup, that's the first vehicle that will feature it. One hundred thousand dollars of malware--that's what it is.
Garmin smartphone GPS units
For the Luddites among us (including yours truly) who still use separate GPS units from our phones, Garmin has an answer for a new app-compatible GPS. So what can it do that will make you still want it? How about a GPS tracker that will allow you to find your car in a crowded parking lot via your smartphone. A smart phone, indeed.
2013 Tesla Model S infotainment
We've seen pictures of it plenty of times before, but it was good to finally see Tesla's 2013 Model S in the sheetmetal. The automaker has only built five of its Beta prototypes. We were given the full rundown of features—almost all of which were controlled by the car's massive touchscreen center console. Only the turn signals, cruise control, windshield wipers, and headlights had their switches located elsewhere in the interior. The Model S not only represents the future of the electric car, but also the only car at CES that could make every technophile's heart palpitate a little quicker.
Audi's head-up display
Head-up displays are nothing new, but Audi's is. With three different head-up displays—driver, middle, and passenger—it's possible to pass along functions, such as radio control, between any of the three units via hand swiping. Much like Mercedes-Benz's DICE, it's all motion controlled. But unlike the Mercedes unit, this one looks much closer to production.