CES - Car tech 2.0: Way beyond GPS and booming stereos

A new generation of car technologies promises to add more fun and functionality to motoring.

TomTom MapShare: Using the community to fix maps

Every year 10% to 15% of the roads in the US change in some significant way, construction detours are the most common, but road names change, and streets that were two-way are converted into one-way roads. Unfortunately, the maps that in-car GPS systems rely on don't update fast enough to account for these changes, especially when some sort of disaster knocks a road out.

TomTom's new Mapshare system tries to address this by having users change maps to reflect new realities. When a user encounters something, they can make a correction on the TomTom device. This can then be shared with the community of users by, in effect, posting the change to the TomTom community site.

Map changes are updated daily, and users can choose to download only those validated by TomTom, or from "trusted" members of the community, or from any community member.

Flir cuts through fog, darkness

Even with your brights on, driving at night can be nerve-wracking, eye-testing process. Odds are, you'll always have a tough time seeing as far down the road as you need to to feel safe.

Flir's PathFindIR system uses a thermal-imaging camera installed in a car's grille and an in-dash or rear-view-mirror-mounted monitor to solve that problem. According to Flir's Web site, the system allows you to see four times further down the road than normal headlights will. This system even cuts through the thickest fog.

The key to the Flir's night-vision enhancement is in the thermal imaging. It picks up any sources of heat, such as a person walking across the street or an animal about to dart out of the woods, and displays it as a high-contrast image on the in-car monitor.

The system is only offered as a custom installation on most cars, but another exhibitor on the CES show floor this year, NAV-TV, is working with car manufacturers to get the system offered as an option in future cars.

Hemp-based subwoofer is winner for JVC

No, you can't smoke it, but JVC's awesomely powerful Arsenal AW8500 Series 15" Subwoofers can sure blow you away. And yeah, like an earlier models in the Arsenal line, the AW8500 model's cones are made from a blend of 10 percent hemp blended with Kevlar.

Gimmick? Maybe, but the sound from this sub is amazingly clean, good enough, in fact, to win a CES Innovation award against a ton of competitors in the category.

VizuaLogic: The cure for backseat fights?

Family road trips are a great way to bond, but only ifyou can keep the kids from duking it out and arguing non-stop in the backseat. Portable DVD players and iPods have gone along way towards keeping road trips peaceful, but VizuaLogic's A-1290 and A-1250 entertainment systems integrate all that kid-quieting tech into the back of your car'sfront-seat headrests.

These headrest monitor systems flip down to let the user load in DVDs -- one per headrest, in case thekids can't agree on which movie they want to watch.They also support video iPods, using a proprietaryconnector to jack up the image size of the iPod videosource to a 9-inch diagonal on the A-1290 or a 7-inchdiagonal on the A-1250.

If DVDs and iPods are way too 2007 for you, VizuaLogicalso offers the VMOD, an 8-inch by 5-inch black Wi-Fibox with an integrated 40GB hard drive that lets youdownload digital media and watch it on its headrestmonitors. Information superhighway, indeed.

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