The Weekly Grind: Week 1

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has kicked off in Las Vegas and with the automotive industry going through a bit of a revolution as the quest for the most “connected car” intensifies. Here are some quick notes from the introductions that I found most relevant. 

Ford – Lincoln

Ford debuted a whole myriad of connected systems from an in-vehicle-payment capability by partnering with ExxonMobil, smart-home connectivity via Alexa, and several other app-to-car seamless data sharing. 

For future model plans, for announced that it will introduce 13 new electrified vehicles globally in the next five years. Most significantly, the Ford F-150 is one of those vehicles that will get hybrid technology.

Honda – Acura

Demonstrating the importance behind Honda’s vision of a collaborative future were President and CEO of Honda R&D, Matsumoto-san as well as the President of Honda R&D, Americas, Frank Paluch. Honda envisions a car that can provide new value for the customer. The NeuV concept is an electric car can sell power back to the grid, allows for rideshare during the estimated 96% downtime of a retail car’s life, and adapts to the driver’s habits.

A little closer to its production debut are technology that Honda believes can provide a collision free society by 2040 by utilizing the standardized vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to provide road conditions and status of other vehicles on this platform. Honda has labeled this technology as Safe Swarm.

By collaborating with Dreamworks, Honda has debuted its VocalZoom, which is an optical sensor that that can sense facial movements to enables accurate voice interpretations no matter the level of background noise.

Honda demonstrated a 3-D heads-up-display (HUD) which is designed to provide a natural and non-distracting image that also reduces the effect of view angle.

The most significant announcement came as Honda said it would use an Android-based but Honda specific OS for future HMI integration. This is expected to allow for an “innovative partnership” with software developers, and demonstrates Honda’s fully committed direction.

Finally, Honda demonstrated a “proof-of-concept” for in-vehicle-payments. Partnering with Visa, and other field specialists, the system allows the owner to make payments from inside the car. Currently targeted at parking meters (IPS Group) and fuel pumps (Gilbarco-Veeder-Root), the technology not only provides for increased convenience but also security. With it being winter time, one can easily appreciate not having to stand outside one second longer than necessary when at the pump or having to run back and forth to pay and then put the ticket on the dash.  Also imagine not having to worry about your card being read by a skimmer. With several partners already established, this sounds like a safe bet for near future deployment.

 

Hyundai – Kia

This past year, we saw increased smart home connectivity that included our TVs, phones, homes, and now cars. Hyundai announced that it has partnered its Blue Link connected services with Google Assistant meaning that functions like locking, starting, and setting destinations can all be completed with a simple “OK Google”. This sort of collaboration is another significant step towards seamless integration between devices.

Hyundai’s time at the CES was focused on their autonomous IONIQ as its testing continues in the urban environment, and the idea of the “hyper-connected” car. For the latter, Hyundai has partnered with Cisco to develop communication method between the car and its surroundings.

Toyota – Lexus

Toyota demonstrated its plans for a future that includes an emotional side of connected technology, describes as “kinetic warmth”.

Entune 3.0 is promised to offer significantly upgraded technology such as wifi, remote connect, automatic vehicle notification in the event of an accident via Safety Connect, and Service Connect which sends the vehicle diagnostic information directly to the dealership of choice.

Tesla

Tesla produced its first lithium-ion battery this past week which will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products. Although, less than 30% of the factory is complete, Tesla’s phased approach is a common practice in the industry. It allows for lessons learned to be quickly applied to the next segment of the manufacturing process.

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