Auto Tech Gadgetry Gets Star Treatment at CES 2010

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Auto Tech Gadgetry Gets Star Treatment at CES 2010

by Chris Preimesberger

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This sleek new Mercedes Kompressor was the platform used to show off the new MediaBridge Media Integration kit. The kit enables a driver to utilize any form of media in the car's sound system: iPod, CD, radio, video or USB-connected device.

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The MediaBridge enables satellite radio and additional auxiliary support. It also charges iPhones and features an easy-to-read text display.

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The seven-passenger 2010 Audi Q7 TDI's distinguishing characteristics are a "clean diesel" engine and an MMI 3G navigation system powered by video chip maker Nvidia. The new Audi also features a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 "clean diesel" power plant, provides 225 horsepower and gets to 60 mph from a standing start in 8.5 seconds. The Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance claims that Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel and new engines and vehicles with advanced emissions control systems offer significant air quality improvement over conventional hybrid vehicles.

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Here is a side view of the "clean diesel" Audi Q7. Fuel consumption estimates are 17 mpg (city), 25 mpg (highway) and 20 mpg combined. It also features all-wheel Quattro drive, a HomeLink remote transmitter and a Bluetooth phone interface.

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The Microsoft-Ford display may have attracted the most visitors, due largely to the sheer number of vehicles in the booth (six) and its location (at the front of Central Hall). It didn't hurt that Ford CEO Allen Mullaly delivered the Day 1 keynote either, calling a lot of attention to his company's IT focus.

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Ford's Microsoft Network Solutions were the focal point of the display. Ford's 2010 "connected" MyTouch cars will feature options such as radar to avoid unseen traffic, Wi-Fi, 8-inch LCD touch-screen displays, and voice recognition for iPods, CD players, radios, navigation devices and mobile phones. The MyTouch interface won a CES Best of Show award.

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This brightly colored Ford professional workman's truck was a focal point of the display—it had its storage doors opened and its tires kicked often.

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This 2010 Kia Soul includes optional iPod and USB ports on the dashboard (inset).

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Even the stately Lincoln is getting higher tech, since it too soon will be made available for Microsoft Auto and MyTouch features.

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For the Lincoln Continental, as well as for Ford's top-of-the-line Taurus, its Escape Crossover and its Focus compact, Microsoft is positioning its Silverlight platform as the development tool of choice for software engineers who want to optimize their music, GPS or communication applications for mobile use.

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The SmoothTalker Bluetooth Dialer utilizes voice commands for a hands-free audio experience in a vehicle. It handles call answering, conferencing, audio transfer, ringer and audio volume controls, and other functions. The idea is for the driver to keep his/her eyes on the road and let the software do the media work.

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SmoothTalker's media kit also includes wireless signal amplifiers to increase cellular coverage and reduce the number of dropped calls from the vehicle.

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PowerMat makes a portable charging mat (USB connected) for the car that can power up three wireless devices at once. It costs about $100.

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Motorola's booth was a popular destination. The Chicago-based device maker introduced some new versions of its wireless geo-positioning system at the show; it has systems that start at only about $70.

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