While some categories at this year's International CES were a little quiet, the same cannot be said for autos. 2014's show floor was filled with car stuff, not simply from the major vendors at the show, but also from the acres of companies selling every accessory imaginable. Our takeaway from this outing is that autonomous control and re-inventing our car's oft-overlooked analog interiors are what most -- if not all -- vendors will be up to at least in part for 2014. Follow on for a few of the highlights from this year's show.
Chevrolet Corvette Performance Data Recorder
Our CES Best Automotive Electronics Product award for 2014 went to Chevrolet's Performance Data Recorder (PDR) found in the 2015 Corvette Stingray. The PDR is an amazing example of how the automotive and electronics arenas can marry and become so much more compelling than the sum of their parts. Using sensor output from the car, a 720p camera mounted in the headliner and an SD card slot, all your track video is output with sensor data beautifully overlaid. We fully expect more announcements around this product from Chevrolet and wouldn't be too surprised if other automakers find ways to ape this enviable tech.
BMW autonomous M235i
BMW's highly autonomous prototype was two parts fast M-series coupe, one part robot, a dash of technical magic and mountains of fun. We lapped the car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in an infield mini track and came away amazed at the experience. Using a pre-programmed and memorized track, the car kept us pointed in the right direction through some tight bends and a slalom course, until we finally drifted through a wet section. Of course, we're years away from this becoming a mundane, everyday experience, so in the interim, we'll take the time to love every second we get to spend behind the wheel with our car-driving robot overlords.
BMW i3 self-parking feature
Much less terrifying than the autonomous car is the self-parking BMW i3. Literally at the push of a button, the little car will begin the hunt for a spot. Once found, you'll be notified on its large color display and then, by simply signaling and holding down a button and nothing else, the car parks. Great fun and very useful. Well done BMW, well done.
2015 Audi TT all-digital interior
Starting with the TT in MY2015, Audi will start removing analog dash clusters. Good or bad, like it or not, your favorite needle-driven sweeper is history. Though, look at the bright side: Your navigation will become more accessible and likely safer, with music, calls and all other data also ending up right in front of you rather than on the center stack. Speaking of that center stack, we're still waiting on word if that Audi Tablet we saw earlier this week will end up in this car.
QNX CAR platform
QNX became an instant favorite of ours last year after we saw its Car Platform 2.0. This year, it showed a much more refined variant with a better, more-polished UI and really impressive audio quality. One of the more interesting features is that, while playing back music, you're still able to use voice control with the system because it knows what's currently playing and can remove that from your voice command. Simple right? Sure sounds like it, but we know it's likely outrageously complicated. We're definitely going to chase QNX down this year for some more live demos of its gear.