Every CES tends to highlight certain industry trends or directions.
Two years ago, the buzz was all about self-driving cars.
After facing some market realities, much of the automotive focus at CES last year was about enhancing the driver experience.
At CES this year, other than the futuristic flying car concepts shown, much of the focus on connected cars was about integrating all the connected things in a car to provide a more seamless driver experience.
This was the key theme in my annual private tour of the automotive tech display by Harman, the Samsung subsidiary that takes over the Hard Rock Hotel to showcase its automotive innovation for those invited to check it out.
Last year, Ralph Santana, the executive vice president and global chief marketing officer of Harman International, walked me through the future vision of where connected cars are heading, including an impressive demonstration of the connected car experience consumers could expect.
This week, Santana showed me how the connected car experience is now coming together.
Rather than highlighting any one particular technology, Santana sees the value in linking all the discrete technologies to work together as a system.
“It’s about bundling together in a purposeful way,” says Santana.
A BMW on display sported side cameras instead of mirrors with the images projected onto screens in the vehicle, including the traditional interior mirror being replaced by a screen of the same proportion.
This type of technology was shown at CES last year as a concept.
Santana says all the features in the car I saw now are fully functional and ready for market.
Of course, automakers have to sign up to install such systems, but there’s little doubt these kinds of advancements are coming.
Among numerous connected car announcements, Harman also introduced Ignite Marketplace, a network of cloud-based applications and services running on the Harman Ignite Cloud Platform.
A powerful example was in a car Santana and Tom Rivers, vice president global marketing, connected cars and services at Harman, showed me. Besides various connected car components, the car came with Salesforce integrated, including an interactive voice agent.
The connected car then could provide customer relationship management (CRM) functionality besides transportation.
A sales rep could verbally ask Salesforce to brief them on nearby accounts and the car could create a service tickets to suggest appointments.
The driver also could use voice to order products directly from the app, such as ordering their favorite dinner on the way home.
“The value proposition is when we combine the technologies together,” said Rivers.
Self-driving cars at this CES? Not so much.