The best automotive technology for CES 2023

It’s a hell of a time to be a car owner.

Although one would not usually think of cars as “consumer electronics”, CES always brings the heat with auto-tech and the 2023 show was no different. Everyone from Google to BMW, Volkswagen and Garmin got in on the action, either with brand new cars or clever new features for existing cars.

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Whether it’s a car that changes colors, a car that glows in the dark, or a handy way to keep your car toxic-free, CES 2023 had it all.

Android Auto is getting a facelift

Android Auto new user interface

A fresh coat of paint for Android Auto.
Credit: Google

First out is Android Auto, Google’s software-level solution for Android phones connected to cars. Android Auto itself isn’t new, but Google brought a much-needed makeover for the product to CES and rolled it out to users immediately, which is nice.

The map display is now located on the left side of the car’s interior display, so it is the first thing drivers see when they glance over at the screen. There’s a new Quick Toolbar for apps you open frequently, and everything has been updated to reflect the “Material You” look that Pixel phones has been playing sports for the past couple of years.

Between these additions and the ability to call WhatsApp from your phone while in the car, Android Auto users will likely be happy. But there is more. Podcasts and music finally have a progress bar so you can skip around your favorite track while driving. Great stuff.

An air purifier for your cup holder

Panasonic portable air purifier for cars

Remove odors straight from a cup holder.
Credit: Panasonic

Sometimes cars don’t smell good. Whether it’s due to food or environmental circumstances beyond your control (count your blessings if you’ve never driven past a field full of livestock), Panasonic has a way to solve the problem.

The nanoe X portable air purifier looks like a stainless steel water bottle, but it’s actually an air purifier made to fit into a car’s cup holder. It creates tiny water particles that oxidize the air, ideally reducing both bad odors and bad bacteria in the car. We can’t vouch for its effectiveness against things like diseases, but at least it should keep your car healthy.

Hot tip: Ordinary car washes will also do it.

Ready Vision and Ready Care

Harman Ready Vision

Futuristic!
Credit: Harman

It feels like we’ve been waiting ages for cars to look like their sci-fi counterparts from movies like Minority Report. With Harman’s new Ready Vision technology, the wait may be over.

With Ready Vision, your car will use augmented reality to project useful images onto the windscreen itself. GPS instructions, blind spot warnings and other important information about your car can be projected by Ready Vision, which Harman says will go into production this spring.

Another new Harman feature that goes into production at the same time is Ready Care. Using neuroscience and machine learning, Ready Care uses cameras, sensors and monitors to detect if drivers are sleepy or otherwise distracted. If that’s the case, the car will deliver a personalized response to keep you focused on the road.

BMW and VW get freaky with exterior paint

VW ID.7 car on cliff

Volkswagen’s light-up ID.7.
Credit: Volkswagen

BMW i Vision Dee in yellow

Sometimes you just want a yellow car.
Credit: BMW

For most of a century, cars have typically been painted one color, and that’s it. However, BMW and Volkswagen came to CES with two unique visions of how cars could adapt their appearance while moving forward.

The VW ID.7 is an electric sedan that’s sure to be eye-catching on the road, as it’s covered in multi-colored digital camouflage paint and QR codes. Different parts of the car can light up or go dark independently of each other, so your car can put on a light show synchronized with music you’re listening to, for example. It’s not entirely clear if this is useful in any way, but it’s a conversation starter, if nothing else.

The same applies to BMW i Vision Dee. This is a concept car with an e-ink exterior that allows drivers to actually change the color of the car. You can choose from 32 different shades for 240 different segments of the car’s exterior, creating all kinds of unique patterns depending on your taste. Again, this feature is unlikely to change your life, but it is cool to have a giant mechanical chameleon in your garage.

Your dream camera

Garmin Dash Cam Live

Ne’er-do-wells will think twice before messing with your car.
Credit: Garmin

Finally, Garmin came to CES with a dashboard that can do all kinds of fun thingsā€¦ for a price.

The $400 Dash Cam Live comes with LTE connectivity, which requires a $10/mo fee to use. If you choose to pay the fee, you get the ability to remotely view a 140-degree, 1440p feed from the dash cam wherever you are. If someone tries a funny business with your car while you’re inside a restaurant, for example, you’ll be able to see it and react accordingly.

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The always-on camera will also automatically save event clips with time and location stamps, and it’s voice command-enabled so you can tell it what to do while your hands are on the wheel. It’s certainly not a color-changing car or a portable air purifier, but one could argue that the Dash Cam Live is the most useful automotive technology showcased at CES.

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