CES 2013 Wrapup: The Best of the Rest and Looking at the Future's Promise

By Jacob Brown | January 12, 2013
This year at the Consumer Electronics Show, automakers showed their best new technology, except some of it wasn't particularly new. Subaru's EyeSight is fantastic in that it brings the same sort of collision avoidance tools used in high-end luxury cars to the masses, albeit with cameras that can recognize people and objects instead of radars and sensors. But Subaru's StarLink infotainment system is more or less just a rebranding effort to identify models with navigation, Bluetooth, and Aha radio. For that matter, Aha's integration into new cars--Porsche even had a representative in the Aha stand just for answering audio-related questions--is nothing new at all. Last year was Harman's Aha introduction at CES. This year just showed that it was now available in more new vehicles. There were some promising future car technologies like Lexus' mostly self-driving car, Audi's very much self-driving car, and Chevrolet's new MyLink infotainment system that's coming out in the 2014 Impala. Ford's open-source Sync software also shows hope for the future of in-car entertainment becoming less rigid, evolving as quickly as our computers. There was nothing to awe-inspiring, but there won't be for a while. Self-driving cars for mass consumption are still years off, and there aren't any infotainment revolutions coming in the near future. What we're going to see from here, however, is refinement, making things easier and more intuitive, and bringing down costs.
Below are technologies important to note that we've put in one place in addition to a links to our full coverage of car technologies covered at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
Chrysler Uconnect How else do you show off your new 8.4-inch infotainment display than to bring out the 2013 SRT Viper and Ram 1500? Featuring what is among the biggest touchscreens in a new vehicles today, the Uconnect infotainment is severely underrated in a sea of MyFord Touch and MyLink infotainment systems that soak in tons of publicity. A little-known secret is that Uconnect works really well and is available in everything from the Fiat 500L to the Viper. The 500L gets a Beats by Dr. Dre audio system, though.
Kia UVO with eServices Unlike last year, Kia's display wasn't much abuzz with a new infotainment system this year. UVO with eServices made its debut during the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. While it has yet to go on sale, it will soon, first in the 2014 Kia Sorento. For the first time, UVO will have an available navigation system integrated into it, a monitor that tells owners how fast the car is going when others are driving it, and even a geo fence that will alert parents when their kids go out of a predesignated radius. We'll have a full report on it in early February after we drive the 2014 Kia Sorento and the 2014 Kia Forte.
Delphi Last year, Delphi showed us a smart safety vehicle with new technologies to help keep drivers focused on the road. The parts supplier also showed how to integrate all mobile devices into one Bluetooth database to make all media available throughout the car's cabin, including music, videos, and phone contacts for hands-free calling. This year, Delphi showed advanced versions of the same sorts of technology. In addition, it showed backup cameras that run off a digital feed with smaller, cheaper wiring harnesses that broadcast in high definition instead of the grainy images we're used to seeing. Delphi says most of the technology is just a few years off, if that. We hope so.
Ford In addition to Sync AppLink open-source software, Ford also had a display for its EcoBoost engine lineup, which boasts good fuel economy and plenty of power by using turbochargers, direct fuel injection, and lightweighting the design. We drove the 2014 Ford Fiesta prototype, whichs uses a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes 123 horsepower and is expected to achieve upwards of 40 mpg, and loved it.
Savv Not that headrest-mounted TV screens are anything special anymore, but South Korean company Savv demonstrated its devices using K-Pop music videos. After most of us got our introduction to K-Pop this past year with Psy and comical "Gangnam Style," Savv's display came off as unintentionally hilarious.
Chargepoint Electric vehicles aren't that big in most of the U.S. yet, and most of us don't quite know where to go yet for public charging stations in the places that do have them. Fortunately, Chargepoint has an app for that. Turns out that even in my sleepy hometown in Ohio where no one buys electric cars, there's a charging station at a local store. Chargepoint says it's keeping a running directory of charging stations nationwide and in Canada, helping owners make the most of their electric cars.
Pioneer Audio There was nothing groundbreaking here, but we got to listen to Pioneer's most powerful audio system in a box designed to look like a squashed Scion FR-S. Not too shabby.
Lenovo We have no idea what this gas-powered spider is or who makes it, but Lenovo, the computer maker, had one, and we want it. GoPro When filming yourself on the go, there are very few affordable video camera options that are as durable as what GoPro makes. Water-proof in many cases, as well as nearly indestructible, GoPro cameras are what our sister publication, Motor Trend, uses for its YouTube channel. They're a lot safer to use than your cell phone and much more durable, too.
Ferrari by Logic3 Occasionally, Ferrari lends its name to a few premium products. In this case, the Logic3 headphone series. Costing between $150 and $300, the Logic3 Ferrari headphones are modeled after vintage Ferrari design cues or the ones Ferrari's Formula One pit crew uses. Right in the middle of the display was a Ferrari 458 Italia. It's been said that Ferrari makes more money from licensing its name than selling its exotic cars that start at around $200,000 and quickly go up from there. We don't doubt it.
2013 Consumer Electronics Show Coverage: CES 2013: Subaru Introduces Starlink Infotainment System; Will Debut in 2014 Forester CES 2013: Chrysler Lets Customers Order Navigation System After Delivery with Uconnect CES 2013: Lexus Unveils Integrated Safety Research Car to Show Off New Technology CES 2013: Chevrolet to Add Availability of 70,000 Radio Stations with TuneIn Application Audi to Take on Google? Nevada Grants Permit CES 2013: Ford Sync AppLink Adds Compatibility with 9 New Apps; Opens Development Kits to Everyone CES 2013: Hyundai Previews Two Different BlueLink Systems that Could Go in 2014 Genesis Sedan CES 2013: Why Does Chevrolet Offer 3 Different Versions of its MyLink Infotainment System? CES 2013: Audi Shows Self-Adjusting Headlights and Very Illegal Laser Tail Lights