CES 2014 is all about making cars smarter

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CES 2014 is all about making cars smarter

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A Samsung Electronics’ Gear smartwatch, right, is displayed next to a BMW i3 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Provided by Samsung Electronics

Electronic companies and automakers showcased smart technologies that enhance the driving experience at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, turning the IT trade event into a motor show.

The four-day CES held its official opening ceremony on Tuesday. Around 3,200 companies, a record high, are participating in the IT fair, which started in 1967.

Samsung Electronics demonstrated remote controls for BMW’s first electric car, the i3, using Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Samsung and BMW co-developed the iRemote app, which enables owners to check in real time the amount of charge left in their car’s batteries and the remaining time for a full charging. The app can also be used to open the car’s doors and to control the temperature inside the car’s cabin.

Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones, has been trying to expand its technical prowess in mobile technologies, and the auto industry has been considered one promising area. Smart-car windows, which can display maps and other information, as well as sensors to monitor the condition of the driver and analyze traffic, are among possible products to be produced by Samsung, according to Bloomberg.

A record nine carmakers are attending the 2014 CES.

Kia Motors, Korea’s second-largest automaker and an affiliate of Hyundai Motor Group, introduced an upgraded version of its automobile telematics system UVO and other various IT-automobile technologies at the CES.

“With the user interface UVO, an abbreviation of Your Voice, Kia has a strong base to build on in the advancement of telematics and infotainment technology, pushing the boundaries of connectivity and convenience while maintaining safety as a top priority,” said Henry Bzeih, chief technology strategist at Kia Motors America, through a company statement. “Kia’s teams are constantly looking for new and better ways to strengthen the relationship between driver and car.”

The company highlighted its UVO EV smartphone app with telematics functionality specifically designed for electric vehicles. This version of the UVO system provides up-to-the-minute battery-level status and the ability to search for nearby charging stations, according to Kia. It also introduced an infotainment concept for future vehicles. Its “Smart Radio” function personalizes playlists according to the user’s mood or based on five templates for different driving environments.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, wasn’t at the CES since it has alternated participation with Kia every year since 2009. However, the automaker’s American unit participated in the PepCom Digital Experience at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, introducing an upgraded version of its Blue Link infotainment system. The company has already revealed that the 2015 Genesis will have an application that communicates with wearable devices like Google Glass.

Audi, which has participated in the CES for four consecutive years, introduced an “Audi Smart Display” tablet that integrates with the car’s systems via Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to control the radio and access the Internet via the car’s built-in LTE connection on a 10.2-inch display.

Audi also introduced a system that allows drivers to use Google Earth to see traffic information updated every three minutes and access traffic-light information. It added wireless charging to its Audi phone-box system located in the center console.

The German automaker also showed off a Quattro Laserlight V8 hybrid concept car that has laser headlights three times stronger than LEDs. It also introduced its piloted drive, a driverless driving system.

Mercedes-Benz displayed a system that works with the Pebble smartwatch, letting owners find where they have parked their vehicle and see how much fuel it has. It also has features that tell drivers when there’s traffic or hazards ahead via vibrations. Buttons on the watch can activate the infotainment system.

Samsung tried to show its interest in smart mobility is not confined to cars. On Tuesday, it demonstrated a Connected bicycle in collaboration with bicycle maker Trek. The bike’s functions are controlled with the help of the Galaxy Note 3, which renders on screen information detected by sensors such as velocity, tempo and distance.

Samsung said it will maintain the partnership with Trek and other companies to “help people make a greater use of the latest smart device.”


BY MOON GWANG-LIP AND JOO KYUNG-DON [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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