If you were lucky enough to attend January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016), then you probably have a pretty good feeling about how carmakers are integrating technology (hello, driverless cars). The downside is that many of the coolest features aren’t available quite yet.
Even so, there’s still enough cool tech on the market to keep the biggest car geek satisfied — especially when you go car shopping. Below are some of the features to look for until driverless cars hit the market.
Does a Car Really Need a ‘Smart Key’?
This feature, which is similar to the parental controls you have on your television, gives car owners control over several of their vehicle’s features. For instance, smart key fobs are standard issue with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat — the biggest, baddest Challenger they make. They give car owners a way to control who gets to experience the full power of the Hellcat’s 707-HP Supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT Hellcat V8 Engine. The red key fob gives you access to all 707 HP, while the black key fob suppresses the engine to a measly 500 HP.
Some Smart Fobs, such as Ford’s MyKey, also allow parents to restrict speed and radio volume, two key factors in many teen car accidents. It also has a seat belt reminder, which mutes the radio until your teen buckles up.
The Artificial Intelligence in Google’s Self-Driving Cars Now Qualifies as Legal Driver
Carmakers are fighting to outdo each other with smarter and better artificial intelligence technology. This is great for consumers as it gives a plethora of choices and typically drives down prices. BMW’s latest upgrades to its infotainment system, which were released at CES 2016, are a great example of the one-upmanship that is taking place in the car industry. The upgrades to its already impressive ConnectedDrive now allow drivers to make restaurant reservations and control their home’s smart devices right from the driver’s seat.
According to research by Injury Prevention, rear-facing car seats are much safer for infants and small children. In fact, many states require that younger children to be restrained in rear-facing car seats. The problem is that it is hard to monitor a child facing to the rear, a major reason many parents turn their kids too early. The Garmin BabyCam, another CES 2016 unveil, is the solution to this problem. It simply pairs a small, wireless camera with a navigation device, so you can monitor your little ones. Additional features, such as night vision, the ability to use up to four cameras and a “passenger alert” feature to remind you to check the backseat, take the product to the next level. It can be installed in any vehicle.
The Digital Dashboard
The dashboard of the future, and how you will use it, at CES 2016
While not exactly a new innovation, the digital dashboard is too cool not to mention. And, thanks to Mercedes Benz, the digital dashboard is getting the attention it deserves. The 2017 Mercedes E-Class (available for preorder now) comes equipped with a fully digital instrument panel that seems to spill out of the infotainment center to make one sweeping screen. All of this can be controlled by “touch controls” on the steering wheel, which drivers will operate like a smartphone. If the E-class is out of reach financially, aftermarket digital dashboards can be purchased online and at most automotive shops.