Bending the rules | Automotive Glass Interiors | Corning Gorilla Glass

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Behind the Glass

Observations from CES 2020, the world’s premier automotive tech show

Observations from CES 2020, the world’s premier automotive tech show

By Michael Kunigonis, Vice President and General Manager, Corning Automotive Glass Solutions

I’ve been attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas since 2011. My roles with Corning over the years have morphed as much as CES has, and I’ve watched CES evolve from showing tech related solely to its namesake to becoming the premier automotive tech show. In fact, the number of automotive-related exhibitors has more than tripled since 2018 alone. With that in mind, here are my main takeaways from CES 2020.

In-car UX is key.

CES’s shift to vehicle tech isn’t surprising. The world is looking for the next big thing, like the newest smartphone with its brilliant screen and pixel-rich camera or automatic connectivity and tech that understands us on a personal level. What if our cars could provide intuitive human-machine interaction for us like our smartphones do? The user experience inside the car is clearly one key driver of the car-buying experience. That’s why automakers are pulling inspiration and capability from companies traditionally rooted in consumer electronics, a topic I’ve written about at length before. This trend’s omnipresence at CES only reaffirmed my observations.

Take Daimler’s Vision AVTR concept, for example – it showed an advanced, futuristic version of in-car interactivity. With its occupant recognition capabilities and large central screen, your wholly personalized experience is just a drive – or a ride – away. Continental’s Natural 3D Display concept featured voice-activated controls and projected displays. And even Amazon is getting in on the game by making Alexa a native functionality in its Rivian and Lamborghini examples on the show floor. 

Everyday consumers are leading the charge for automakers to think differently, and they’re responding with full tech-company-infused brainpower.

We’re inching closer to full autonomy.

Hype over the past few years for fully autonomous vehicles has shrouded realistic expectations for the industry. While fully autonomous vehicles are certainly on the horizon, we’re just not there yet. It’s clear today that we must first build the bridge for a sensor-rich world with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) before we can sit back and enjoy a driver-less one.

ADAS is what brings us from levels 0/1 to levels 2/3 autonomy, which deepen the amount of automation. Take surprising incumbent and show stopper Sony with its Vision-S, a concept car that featured 33 sensors, combining multiple optical technologies to build a “Safety Cocoon.”

What’s encouraging to me is that each of these sensors uses light – visible, infrared, radar, LiDAR – to transmit information to the driver in an intelligible way. As a company that appreciates tough technical problems, Corning is exploring ways to overcome the optical and material challenges of ADAS and full autonomous adoption.

We’re driving faster toward a brilliant, visual world.

One thing all automotive tech has in common is its starting point in consumer electronics. And while CES has changed considerably over the years, one thing remains true: it’s still a display-centric, visual show.

The tech in your living room or handheld device is most definitely a precursor for your car, with thin, flexible OLED, and MicroLED displays influencing designers to adopt these display technologies for future automotive interiors. We continue to see enhanced visualization as a theme on the show floor as in-car displays become larger, longer, shaped, and more integrated.

Every year I look forward to CES and its exhilarating atmosphere. Next year, I have two more reasons to be excited:

  1.  The Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion promises to bring 600,000 square feet of new space optimized for automotive exhibits in time for CES. This means an entirely new hall to explore and new contacts to make. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of automotive-related exhibitors continues to see substantial growth.
  2. While CES always coincides with my birthday, CES 2021 – my 10th CES – kicks off on my birthday. While I’ll certainly miss being around my family, I’ll be on the ground in Vegas surrounded by my team as we work toward the same goal of advancing the adoption of technical glass in automotive.