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Consumer Electronics Show: Automakers showcase technology to go

Vehicles of tomorrow offer a dizzying array of gadgets that let motorists stay connected to the digital world via the growing field of telematics.

January 07, 2011|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

ZoomSafer's new FleetSafer Vision uses a special algorithm to collect information from service providers such as AT&T and vehicles' telematics systems to create a report about on-the-go phone use by corporate drivers.

Insurance companies such as Allstate, Progressive and State Farm have recently announced gadgets that can track mileage and behind-the-wheel habits, promising better rates for the safest and most efficient drivers.

And there's more innovation on the way.

OnStar has partnered with Verizon on a prototype system that would run on the high-speed 4G wireless network. It would feature cameras and sensors inside and all around the vehicle that can quickly record an accident. Collisions, such as parking lot fender-benders, could trigger the system to send an e-mail with an attached video clip to the vehicle's owner.

Motorists can also use voice commands to call up YouTube, Twitter, Skype and other sites on an in-vehicle display. The system could also link up to a home-monitoring system to control the thermostat and lights.

Another prototype technology being developed with help from Toyota, Atlantic Records and other companies would allow passengers watching on-demand video in the car to pause it and then finish it at home.

"Adding all these accessories can make it tough to understand how this all works," said Derek Kuhn, vice president of sales and marketing for QNX Software Systems Co., which worked on a system for BMW that can read e-mails and text messages aloud to drivers. "You want to make this so simple that the driver doesn't have to think about what they're doing."

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