CES 2015: connected cars to be next big tech innovation

Like the ‘internet of things’ last year, hi-tech cars are set to dominate the Consumer Electronics Show

This year could see the beginning of cars that are connected to the internet — after it has made its way onto your wrists and into your household appliances.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, which is set to begin in Las Vegas on Tuesday, connected cars are set to be the big innovation, according to many experts.

In the same way that the “internet of things” became the biggest talking point of last year’s conference, connected cars are set to dominate discussion of this year’s. But as with every year, there is usually some time before the technology discussed makes its way into our homes — while discussion of the internet of things has continued to rage, little of it is available yet.

The CES keynote speakers list features representatives from Mercedes-Benz, Ford and General Motors. Many more are expected to be demonstrating new models and technology at the event.

And it's not just car companies trying their hand at technology. The innovations are going the other way, too, with chipmaker Nvidia set to show off cars.

Some companies have already teased the devices they’re set to show off. Hyundai, for example, is set to show its new Display Audio unit, which will connect with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Most of the connected cars are set to make use of those two specially created in-car versions of mobile operating systems. At the moment, those are parts of the software available for phones — users plug their device into the car, and a version of the operating system is shown on screen.

The car offers a stripped down version of each operating system, allowing drivers to access their music, messages and phone calls, as well as other features. Both are meant to be controlled by the built-in voice assistants, known as Siri and Google Now.

But eventually the cars could become much more clever — even perhaps approaching the kinds of autonomous, self-driving cars, that Google has been working on. That could integrate with wearables — BMW is set to show off a smartwatch that will allow wearers to get out of their car and then tell it to park itself.

Google announced recently that Android Auto could be installed straight into the car, rather than relying on phones. Usually, the version of Android for the car sits on top of the car’s built-in operating system, but the new version will allow it to happen without a phone.

That technology, called Android M, was revealed by Reuters in December. But the car manufacturers might still opt to build their own technology, given the fact that each spends a great deal of time and money on making software that can be a distinguishing feature of their cars.

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