CES 2023: Sony and BMW show off new EVs as automakers and tech giants pitch our future on the road | Tech News

Traditional automakers and tech giants alike are making big moves into electric vehicles at CES.

As the world transitions from petrol and diesel to a market that will become increasingly crowded, the biggest event in consumer electronics has more floor space dedicated to electric vehicles than ever before.

Ahead of its official opening at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, German auto giant BMW announced its vision for the future — a future that looks just right in Blade Runner.

The BMW i Vision Dee (Dee stands for “Digital Emotional Experience”) concept car may look like a relatively ordinary sedan, but it’s equipped with an augmented reality windshield and a voice assistant.

The BMW i Vision Dee (Digital Emotional Experience) concept car demonstrates its E Ink color-changing capabilities during BMW's keynote presentation at the annual consumer electronics trade show CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., January 4, 2023 .REUTERS/Steve Marcus
BMW i Vision Dee Concept Shows Off Its Color-Changing Ability

Drivers will be able to use a “mixed reality slider” to adjust what they want displayed on the windshield — from familiar data like speed and direction to projections of the virtual world (only when driving autonomously, to be clear).

Then there’s the vehicle’s grille, which is no longer purely for the safe passage of air in and out of the vehicle, but to show expressions to those on the outside—the closest we get to actual characters in Pixar’s Cars.

Conceptually, it will work using BMW’s “electronic ink” technology, which is applied to the vehicle’s entire body, allowing owners to digitally repaint it in 32 different colours.

The i Vision Dee concept car has an augmented reality windshield.Figure: BMW
The i Vision Dee concept car has an augmented reality windshield.Figure: BMW

“The vehicle as a platform is evolving”

These concepts may sound absurd, more like science fiction than scientific fact, but announcements like these represent a growing convergence between automakers and the tech world.

In one of the most high-profile moments at CES so far, Japanese tech giant Sony debuted an electric vehicle, teaming up with fellow automaker Honda to showcase the Afeela.

Sony and Honda's Afeela were announced at CES.Figure: Sony
Sony and Honda’s Afeela were announced at CES.Figure: Sony

According to the head of automotive at electronics giant Qualcomm, one of the world’s largest producers of semiconductors, this suggests that the next few years will see a “complete transformation of the automobile”.

“The vehicle as a platform is evolving,” Nakul Duggal told Sky’s Ian King Live.

Qualcomm reported semiconductor orders worth $30 billion in September, up from $11 billion in July, reflecting the industry’s desire to move beyond vehicles that are only used for driving.

More semiconductors are needed if cars are to host more powerful electronics, from augmented reality windshields to in-car games.

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Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during a BMW keynote address at the annual consumer electronics trade show CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., January 4, 2023.REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at BMW keynote

Mr Duggal said the car industry was going through a “seismic change”, with cars being used “in the same way we use our TVs, PCs or phones”.

Equipped with more than 40 sensors to detect hazards and enable autonomous driving, Sony and Honda’s Afeela is expected to leverage the PlayStation maker’s entertainment heritage to compete with industry leader Tesla, which has integrated video games into some of its vehicles.

Sony broke with tradition by announcing no new TVs at this year’s CES, a sign of just how serious Sony is taking its first foray into the automotive space.

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The all-new Tesla Model Y will come straight from the factory.Photo: Associated Press
Tesla is the current leader in the electric vehicle industry, but competition is heating up.Photo: Associated Press

At the same time, rumors continued or Apple launches its own electric carhas become a staple of many people’s driving experience through its CarPlay platform.

Two of its rivals, LG and Samsung, unveiled their own CarPlay-style offerings at CES, with the latter’s so-called Ready Care working in tandem with its array of wearables to measure driver fatigue.

“The car is becoming this incredible platform,” Mr Dugal said.

“This requires tight integration between the semiconductors, the software in the cloud, and the multitude of applications and services being developed not just by automakers but obviously by the entire ecosystem.”

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