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The most exciting car technologies from CES 2020

Dr Terence Broderick

By Dr Terence Broderick

Patent Attorney

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) hits Las Vegas every January. In recent years, the show has become an unmissable part of the automotive industry calendar, alongside its large sector shows in Geneva and Frankfurt. Here are my top five exciting automotive technologies unveiled at CES 2020.

Virtual visor technology

Driving into a sunrise can be a difficult experience — but a solution to this age-old problem is finally on the horizon. We’ve all wrestled to constantly adjust our visors in awkward light conditions, but now Bosch hopes to alleviate this with its virtual visor technology. It utilises a facial recognition camera to identify the location of your eyes while driving and modifies a liquid crystal display visor to ensure that the sections in immediate focus are turned black to prevent the sun from blocking your vision. The remainder of the display is left unmodified.

3D dashboard

Unsatisfied with only unveiling its fancy visor, Bosch also unveiled a 3D dashboard which projects video images inside your car. This could have many uses, such as being applied to the reversing camera to clearly show you any objects behind your car or to display alerts and notifications.

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The 3D visualisation of an object can improve a driver’s perception and enable them to handle the situation with a higher degree of accuracy. Additionally, according to Bosch, a 3D notification can appear more obvious and urgent.

Projection technology and head-up displays help to make more out of the relatively limited form factor of the user interface in a car. Projection used to be limited to a head-up speedometer but has now moved onto satellite navigation and other aspects of functionality inside the cabin.

Dual-eSIM Connectivity

The push towards increased car connectivity continues, whether it’s to deliver content and location data to a connected autonomous vehicle or details of an accident ahead — but cars only have so much processing capability and the received data needs to be prioritised. That’s why Jaguar Land Rover has been working on dual-eSIM connectivity technology, available in the new Land Rover Defender which will go on sale later this year.

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This technology provides the vehicle with two embedded LTE modems, enabling the use of software-over-the-air (SOTA) technology without compromising on the delivery of streamed music and content to apps while on the move. One eSIM takes care of the SOTA technology, the other your music and content needs.

This means that SOTA can be used to ensure that software is always up-to-date — important for any safety-critical system functionality — without you noticing or having a phone call interrupted. The improvement of SOTA delivery will be essential as we move toward increased levels of autonomy.

Transparent bonnet

Especially in off-road vehicles, drivers can run into difficulty when they can’t see objects that are obscured in front. Continental has addressed this problem with its transparent hood. This involves cameras being fitted around the front and under the front of the vehicle to generate an image of the underside. This is then projected onto a screen inside the cabin, so the driver can see what would normally be obscured by the front of the vehicle.

Making the invisible, visible has become a real trend in the automotive sector, so it’s likely that other similar inventions will make their way into vehicles in the near future.

Speakerless sound system

In my youth, a car was only as cool as the quality and size of its speakers. 'Quality' was usually defined by nothing more than decibels, with the speakers generally positioned inside the boot as pragmatism was pushed to one side. This is very much the approach of yesteryear if CES 2020 is anything to go by.

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The Continental “Act2ated” Sound Experience has done away with cumbersome, heavy speaker units, turning interior panels into speakers. This reduces the weight of the interior as the panels save 60% of the weight associated with a traditional sound system and reduce the space occupation by 80%.

This could have a broad appeal and application — reducing the weight of a vehicle typically assists in raising its fuel economy, which is important as we seek to become a more sustainable society.

The car of the future

Automotive technology is developing rapidly, whether it’s the proliferation of the electric vehicle and increased levels of autonomy, the development of advanced safety technology using 5G networks or the increased use of extended reality. If you’re developing automotive-focused technology, it’s recommended that you seek to protect your innovation using a patent application.

Our dedicated and experienced automotive team can help you to determine what protection you need. Get in touch with me at tsb@udl.co.uk to find out more.

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