Coolest new car tech that could be in your next ride

Tech It Up!
Car tech

View gallery

The BMW heads-up display gives driving statistics on the windshield. (Image via Mike Wehner)

Smartphones, tablets, and computers seem to evolve at a breakneck pace, but the personal technology in cars has consistently lagged behind. That may finally be changing, though. Touchscreens, futuristic dashboards, and Internet connectivity options are all currently being worked on by automotive manufacturers, and you’ll be seeing these features on new car models starting this year.

A smartphone-inspired experience
Chevrolet is poised to refresh its MyLink media navigation system to act even more like the tablets and smartphones you already own.

Rather than static icons arranged in a specific order, as they are now in Chevys, you'll be able to edit and rearrange each set of apps, much like an iPhone screen. The MyLink update will support streaming radio, weather reports and hands-free calls, and allow you to save GPS directions. The smartphone-inspired software is scheduled to launch with the 2014 Chevy Impala later this year.

Heads-up display

If a touchscreen dashboard just isn't your style, you might be interested in something a bit more futuristic. Several car companies have produced their own versions of virtual display technology that overlays information onto part of your windshield, while still allowing you to see the road without difficulty. These systems can give drivers information like speed, direction, and navigation guidance without taking their eyes off the road.

BMW, Hyundai, and Cadillac are a few of the companies working on similar systems, which should make it to consumer models of new vehicles within the next couple of years. There are also a handful of third party companies, like Pioneer, working on their own heads-up displays that can be added to practically any car or truck.

Moody music
Good music can make a long commute bearable, and ensuring that the tunes pumping into your car meet your mood is paramount. To make the process of striking the perfect note more easy and intuitive, music technology company GraceNote built the MoodGrid. It’s a program that can generate musical playlists based on your feelings.

The grid provides 25 different mood squares which you can tap to activate. The sides of the grid act as specific moods such as Positive, Calm, Energetic, and Dark. Each time you touch a square, the system applies more of that feeling to its musical choices. If you're positive and energetic, the system will play upbeat, fast-tempo tunes, and the opposite is true if you're feeling a bit more mellow. If you’re in no specific mood, tapping towards the center of the grid will provide more of a mix.

Constantly connected
The days of finding an address on the Web and typing it into a GPS unit are ending. Porsche's new Harman Aha Web search technology streamlines the process and lets you type your destination directly into the vehicle's interactive dashboard instead of fumbling around for your smartphone. The system then searches the Web for the most relevant results based on your location and presents them to you in an easy-to-browse list.

For example, you want to try out that new Chinese restaurant across town and can't remember the name. Rather than reaching for your iPhone at a stop light, you can simply type the relevant keywords into the Aha system and it will find it for you. It will even automatically program your vehicle's navigation system to get you there. This technology is just one step away from letting your car actually drive you to your destination on its own, but that’s coming too.

Hands-off driving
Car and technology companies like Audi and Google are getting closer to self-driving cars that could outsmart slow traffic and find a parking spot without human input. The vehicles use radar and camera sensors to avoid accidents and humans alike.

However, driverless cars are legal in only three states Google has pushed California legislators to allow its fleet of autonomous map-making cars to hit public streets, but that's a small victory in what is a long legislative process nationally. Still, most automakers are confident self-driving technology will reach consumers before 2020. Cadillac hopes to launch its "Super Cruise" automatic highway driving option by 2015.

Whether any of these new features make it into your next vehicle, they too will be replaced by something even wilder and unimaginably cool. Or think about it this way: In the 1950s, everyone thought we'd have flying cars by 2000, so maybe touchscreens and connected cars are OK for 2013.

View Comments (565)

Recommended for You

  • Luggage piece found on French island near possible MH370 debris

    Part of a bag was found Thursday on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from missing flight MH370. "The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention," said Johnny Begue, a member of a local…

  • Chicago man cleared after 17 years in prison shot dead

    CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 17 years in prison for murder before being cleared of the crime has been shot and killed almost three years after being released from prison, police said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Russia reassures Israel over Iran nuclear deal

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that the deal on Iran's nuclear program would improve security in the Middle East and guaranteed that Tehran would not acquire nuclear arms. Israel plans to lobby the U.S. Congress not to approve the…

    Reuters57 mins ago
  • Family Pet-Sitter Helps Herself To Homeowner's Possessions

    DEAR ABBY: A trusted and beloved family member who takes care of my cats -- and therefore has a key to my house -- has been stealing things like cleaning supplies, knickknacks, family pictures, etc. Most of them have little monetary value. But imagine my surprise when I spotted some of my missing…

    Dear Abby
  • Eight family members decapitated in north Mexico

    Eight people from the same family, including two minors, were kidnapped by masked gunmen and their decapitated bodies were found days later in northern Mexico, authorities said Wednesday. The bodies were found after a ninth member of the Martinez family escaped Sunday's abduction near Casa Quemada,…

  • An American Dentist Killed Zimbabwe’s Famous Lion

    Cecil the lion, a famous black-maned resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, died at the hands of an American dentist, conservationists claim. “Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in…
  • Colorado theater shooter's dad saw wide-eyed smirk before

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — James Holmes came home on winter break from graduate school looking haggard and making odd facial expressions, but his father didn't suspect at the time that he was descending into mental illness.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Body cam footage from Cincinnati shooting contradicts official story

    A University of Cincinnati police officer has been indicted for murder after body camera footage contradicted his official story outlining the events that led to the shooting death of unarmed Cincinnati driver Samuel Dubose.

    Reuters Videos
  • Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead

    By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban's official spokesman disavowed peace talks with the Afghan government on Thursday, throwing fledgling efforts to negotiate an end to 14 years of war into disarray. The statement came a day after the Afghan government said that Mullah Omar, the elusive…

  • Jon Stewart signing off 'Daily Show' fake newscast for real

    NEW YORK (AP) — After more than 16 years and nearly 2,600 telecasts, Jon Stewart can feel proud of his scads of Emmys and his pair of Peabody Awards, his cultural gravitas (he hung with the Prez, both on and off the air!), even his reprobate status at Fox News.

    Associated Press12 mins ago
  • Hidden Security Cameras Are Shocking Surprise For Daughter

    DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old woman in college who still lives with my parents. I found out something several weeks ago that's bothering me, and I need advice badly. Years ago, after a robbery, my parents installed security cameras outside our house. I knew about them because they were visible. But…

    Dear Abby
  • Boko Haram 'slits throats of 10 fishermen' near Lake Chad

    Boko Haram Islamists slit the throats of 10 fishermen in villages near Baga on the shores of the Lake Chad in northeastern Nigeria, a leading fisherman and a resident said Thursday. "On Monday around 4 pm (1500 GMT), Boko Haram attacked three villages on the shores of Lake Chad where they…

  • Independent media battle on in Putin's Russia

    By Timothy Heritage MOSCOW (Reuters) - Alexei Venediktov, one of Russia's most prominent journalists, does not go out without a bodyguard and does not answer mobile phone calls for fear of being tracked. Such precautions do not seem out of place in a country where at least 17 journalists have been…

  • Teens' 6 days adrift verge on limits for survival at sea

    TEQUESTA, Fla. (AP) — Crews pushed the limits of an ever-expanding search zone Wednesday for two teens missing at sea and potentially nearing the boundaries of human survival.

    Associated Press
  • Internet mauls dentist accused of illegal kill of popular lion

    Technically Incorrect: Walter Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, has his Yelp entry attacked by those not fond of his allegedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

  • View

    Creeping vines, abandoned village (20 photos)

    Just a handful of people still live in a village on Shengshan Island east of Shanghai that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen. Every day hundreds of tourists visit Houtouwan, making their way on narrow footpaths past tumbledown houses overtaken by vegetation. The remote village, on one of…

    Yahoo News
  • Police Officer Involved in Deadly Cincinnati Shooting of Samuel DuBose Indicted for Murder, Dismissed from Force

    "I'm treating him like a murderer," prosecutor Joseph Deters said during a news conference when describing the warrant out for a police officer who killed Samuel DuBose, 43, earlier this month. Footage released today from a police officer's body cam lasts about 10 minutes and shows the shooting.…

    ABC News
  • Kurdish rebels attack Turkish security forces, killing 5

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Kurdish rebels have attacked Turkish security forces in two separate assaults in southeast Turkey, killing five people, officials said. One rebel was also killed.

    Associated Press