Cars get the sci-fi treatment at the Consumer Electronics Show

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is fast turning into a pseudo motor show, with car makers and technology companies redefining the features we'll soon see in cars.

This year's show packed in everything from holographs and a 48-inch display screen to a riderless motorcycle and a new dimension of in-car entertainment.

Load 'em up

As well as looking like a cross between a moving piece of Times Square and a Hollywood sci-fi machine, the Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic promises to move people and goods more efficiently.

Using an electric drivetrain, the Vision Urbanetic concept is networked to monitor demand and adapt in real time, even counting the number of pedestrians in certain areas who may need a lift.

External displays interact with pedestrians and cyclists to give notice of future movements, part of a broader acceptance step in the rollout of driverless technology.

The innovative electric architecture can also have its upper body interchanged within minutes, converting from a 12-person passenger van to a goods vehicle.

Augmenting reality

Hyundai teamed with Swiss tech company WayRay to reinvent the windscreen with a one-off G80 fitted with a holographic display.

Using augmented reality, the system projects a wide image 15 metres ahead of the driver, placing instructions and information in precise locations depending on the driver's position, the car's movement and the outside environment.

It means navigation commands can be placed virtually on the precise patch of road, for greater accuracy. The system can also display driver alerts and speed warnings, among other info.


In the mood

Looking more like a Swedish living room than a car, the Kia "Space of Emotive Driving" is having a big gaze into the autonomous driving future and envisaging how humans may interact with their cars.

Using artificial intelligence, the vehicle's Real-time Adaptive Driving System can monitor a passenger's emotional state using "bio-signal recognition technology". It looks at the heart rate, facial expressions and even the electrical conductivity of the skin to determine what emotional state someone is in.

The car can then adjust everything from seating and temperature to the chosen route, lighting in the cabin and the entertainment on offer.


Interested in riding a motorbike but reckon you have a few things to learn? BMW's riderless tech could be just the ticket to successful two-wheeling.

The bike can accelerate and stop autonomously as well as recognise obstacles and corner, all while maintaining balance.

BMW says the bike can take the perfect line through a corner and optimise braking and acceleration, helping the rider "improve their skills".

It's a show special for now, but you can bet BMW will be working on maintaining its reputation for innovation in the bike scene.

Touch sensitive

Chinese electric car startup Byton has dreams of taking on Tesla with its "premium intelligent electric vehicles for the future", even poaching some of the Californian brands senior staff to develop its upcoming models, including the M-Byte. The company also turned to Apple, Google and BMW for expertise in tech and car making for its multi-billion dollar venture.

But it's inside where Byton looks to be making the biggest impact, with a 48-inch screen stretching across the width of the dash. Called the SED – or Shared Experience Display – it can be accessed by passengers throughout the car, allowing complete interaction on infotainment functions.

Far from a flight of fancy, the screened-up interior is representative of what will appear on the first production car, right down to its two touchscreen controllers up front and rear screens.

Mobile entertainment

Movies and computer games that add movement to the theatrical experience are typical the reserve of expensive computer games or Californian theme parks.

But Audi is injecting a hint of Hollywood into the back seat courtesy of intelligent virtual reality goggles.

Fitted to the all-electric E-Tron, the system matches movements of the car with what passengers are viewing through the VR goggles.

The technology is being developed by a start-up Audi helped co-found called Holoride. Like Apple's IOS the underlying platform will be open to other developers and car makers, encouraging more content and faster development.

In announcing the tech, Audi teamed up with Marvel to create an Avengers experience that is a virtual outer space adventure, with the space craft turning and accelerating in line with the movement of the car. Other potentials include games, underwater adventures, space explorations and "trips through historical cities or the human bloodstream".

Silent Harley heaven

Few automotive brands ooze steadfast traditions and a rich history like Harley Davidson.

Now, the maker of some of the world's loudest, meanest motorbikes is going all green and fuzzy with its LiveWire, the production version of a concept seen two years ago.

Due in Australian showrooms in 2020, the all-electric bike promises bolshy acceleration, able to blat to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and travel up to 175km between charges.

And while it'll be almost silent, Harley Davidson has tried to inject some futuristic audio into the equation with a "signature" Harley EV soundtrack.

Just don't expect it to rattle the windows like the Harleys we know today…

Listen up

Noise cancelling in cars is commonplace, typically focused on reducing the noise of the engine and transmission by sending opposing frequencies from the speakers.

Bose is taking it a step further, with technology originally developed for its headphones set to be unleashed on cars.

The principle is the same – microphones listening to unwanted frequencies and countering them with sound waves from the speakers – but the emphasis with the so-called Quiet Comfort Road Noise Control is on reducing tyre noise over various bitumen surfaces and even over bumps.

The system promises potential weight savings through removing insulation, benefiting performance and fuel economy.

The tech should begin appearing on cars in 2021.