Geneva Motor Show 2014: best car tech

From artificial intelligence and 3D displays to CarPlay iPhone control

The Geneva Motor Show has always been a great showcase for all kinds of cool concept cars and technology and this year’s event is no exception. Here are our top five picks from the show…

5 amazing car gadgets at the Geneva Motor Show: Toyota FV2 concept

1. Toyota FV2 concept

Toyota’s been showing off personal vehicle concepts for quite a few years now, but its latest – the FV2 – has to be its best, and most outlandish, yet.

This time around “Toyota believes the relationship between drivers and their vehicles will continue to develop aspects of trust and understanding, similar to those a rider will have with a horse.”

In other words, the Toyota FV2 is packed with the kind of artificial intelligence that can tell what kind of mood you’re in, suggest places you might like to go to based on previous journeys and can even suggest changes to your driving habits.

Toyota says the FV2 draws on technology developed from its Kirobo and Mirata humanoid robots and is clever enough to change the car’s colour and external display at will.

The Toyota FV2 concept also includes an augmented reality windscreen that gives you real time information about the world around you.

You can find out more on the Toyota FV2 website. There are are companion apps for Android and iOS users too.

5 amazing car gadgets at the Geneva Motor Show

2. Škoda VisionC concept

Mainly based on near-production technologies, Škoda’s VisionC concept delivered a striking vision of the future at the Geneva Motor Show — lean and mean on the outside, but full of gadgets inside.

The chief of these is the Škoda VisionC’s ‘infotainment’ system. Based around a large touch-sensitive 3D display, it acts as the centrepiece of the car’s dashboard, with the 3D element seemingly “hung-up in the interior”.

Rear passengers don’t get neglected either – there are collapsible multimedia entertainment screens for them in the back too.

Find out more about the Škoda VisionC concept

3. Mini with Head-Up Display

Originally unveiled last November, the all-new Mini hatch will include an innovative head-up display (HUD) when it goes on sale across the UK this month – and it’s on display on the Mini stand at the Geneva Motor Show.

The HUD is part of a complete in-car entertainment and navigation system made by Harman, the US company behind audio-video brands such as JBL, Infinity and, of course, Harman Kardon.

The Harman system in the Mini includes a head-up display (HUD) to make navigation easier and driving safer.

The complete system also includes a 1.3GHz processor, 200GB of storage and a 12-speaker audio system. It can even play passengers DVD movies. Phew.

You can find out more at BMW global press site.

5 amazing car gadget at the Geneva Motor Show

4.  Vauxhall brings OnStar to its cars

OnStar is a US technology company that specialises in advanced car, sat nav and safety tech – and Vauxhall is bringing its considerable know-how to its 2015 passenger cars. That makes sense: both brands are owned by the same car giant, General Motors.

The aim, Vauxhall says, is to make its cars more connected, more secure and safer than before.

Your Vauxhall could be equipped with OnStar’s 4g LTE technology, for example, enabling it to act as a mobile Wi-Fi network, offering fast broadband-like connections for up to seven different mobile devices.

But the OnStar system goes much further than that.

It also includes a remote connection to an OnStar call centre that can help you out with all kinds of things from breakdown assistance, to remote locking / unlocking of car doors (handy if you forget) as well as vehicle tracking should you be unlucky enough to have your car stolen.

OnStar can even alerted in the event of an accident – something that happens automatically if one of the airbags goes off – ensuring that help will be sent to you straight away.

Naturally, the OnStar system comes with a companion app for your smartphone too. This enables you to do things like lock and unlock the car and check tyre pressure and oil levels remotely.

You can even use the OnStar app to send destination addresses to the onboard sat nav so they’re waiting for you when you set off.

If you can’t wait until 2015 for OnStar then you have another choice. The Adam Rocks crossover car (above), due in August, also includes an optional infotainment system that is not only Android and iOS smartphone compatible, but boasts Siri Eyes Free voice technology from Apple as well.

Speaking of which…

5 amazing car gadgets at the Geneva Motor Show

5. Apple announces CarPlay

Undoubtedly one of the biggest announcements at the Geneva Motor Show came from iPhone maker, Apple. It revealed CarPlay – a whole new way to use iOS devices in cars and it’s already on board in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo cars at the show.

CarPlay goes further than Siri Eyes Free by enabling you to access iPhone apps like Maps, Music, Messages and Phone directly from the car’s in-dash display as well as by voice control using Siri.

CarPlay even includes support for third-party services like Spotify and iHeartRadio, so it’s not just an Apple-only affair.

The most exciting thing about CarPlay though is how many car makers have already signed up — not just Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

Other supporters include BMW Group (which owns Mini), Ford, Mazda, Vauxhall-owner General Motors, Kia, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover. Subaru, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Toyota are on board too. Apple says all of them will be bringing CarPlay to their motors “down the road”.

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