Walking the show floor at CES, I turned a corner and all of a sudden saw a half dozen cars and a truck. For a moment I thought I’d wondered into a car show.
I hadn’t. It was the Microsoft Auto display featuring a growing category of technology – tech that’s embedded in vehicles.
Computer technology in vehicles is not brand new. In-dash computers have been around for a number of years; however, early in-dash computers were limited in the functions they performed.
For those of you whose cars ARE your office (or your second office), in-car computers are rapidly evolving into full-scale PCs.
In-dash computers are no longer limited to GPS navigation systems and monitoring a few systems in your vehicle. Now you can get a more-or-less full computer in your dashboard. You can handle emails; connect to Internet browsers; manage phone communications including your address book; upload digital photos, music and other media via USB ports -- and oh yes, let’s not forget the maps and GPS navigation system.
Vehicle embedded computers feature steering-wheel controls, touch screens on the dash, and even portable keyboards you can pull out if you prefer to type. What’s more, these systems have sophisticated voice activation features, so you can do things hands-free. (Obviously, just because a computer is in the dash, doesn’t mean you should be driving and trying to punch in information at the same time!)
Vehicles will soon have WiFi connectivity, so that your car can become a mobile hotspot. And they’ll even integrate social media apps like Twitter into these in-car computers, according to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who was at the show.
If you are a contractor or run a business where you and a crew use work tools, there’s even a Ford truck with an RFID-enabled system from DeWalt that tracks and manages all your tools and gear. Each tool has an RFID tag. That lets the system alert you if something is missing so that you don’t leave tools behind at work sites. Just imagine the savings from not losing tools.