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Highlights from CES 2014: Is your car smarter than you?

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Cars were invented as a means of transportation – getting from point A, St. Louis, to point B, Kansas City. If you were at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, CES, in Las Vegas then you know we’re not in Kansas anymore!

Cars have evolved far beyond travel mode and status symbols. In fact, the hottest new connected device for 2014 has four wheels. Next generation connected cars have upped the ante on high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity, transforming vehicles into mobile offices, media screening rooms, personal concierges, even chauffeurs.

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For instance, Bosch’s driverless-car technology is capable of finding the nearest open parking spot, and then parking itself. BMW’s autonomous driving system leverages GPS, sensors, an accelerometer and other automated systems to help drivers keep control while navigating hazardous road conditions. Advanced navigation systems from Audi allow drivers to use 3D graphical maps for up-to-the-moment directions to the next destination, the nearest gas station or point of interest. Chrysler has an option for an embedded connected car system, helping customers avoid the clutter created by portable devices. And Hyundai drivers can use the Siri Eyes Free platform by Apple to hear and reply to text messages, check weather conditions or stock prices – all while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

(To learn more, read my previous post about how connected cars are improving our roadways)

None of these innovations would be possible without unprecedented collaboration between technology partners, carriers and auto makers. And the low latency and speeds needed for a great experience wouldn’t be possible without automotive-grade LTE M2M connectivity. For instance, Audi teamed up with Gemalto to deliver M2M 4G connectivity for the first-to-market Audi Embedded LTE Infotainment System. The solution uses a Gemalto Cinterion technology for an embedded mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, Internet radio, Web services and advanced 3D navigation system. Already on the road in Europe, U.S. drivers should be getting their own 4G connected cars this spring. A new Cinterion LTE M2M solution, the PLS8 module, was announced at the show extending 4G to paradigm shifting applications such as video signage, video security monitoring, wearable technologies and NFC applications.

LTE is only one of many “behind the scenes” technology developments driving today’s smart car revolution. Remote Subscription Management technology allows drivers to select the best carrier and easily change subscriptions regardless of where they live or travel. It may sound simple but this solves a critical challenge for car makers and OEMs who, up until now, had to manufacture and deliver specialized solutions for different carriers and world regions. NFC is another “behind the scenes” technology that is being leveraged for a range of secure services such as keyless entry and ignition that eliminates the worry of lost keys.

As this compelling technology continues to make its way into our cars, we may soon be wondering “is my car smarter than I?”

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