It seems like the dawn of the fully-connected, automated, IoT-driven world has been just around the corner for years now. It will be a while until we know whether CES 2016 would be looked at as a catalyst for change, but big brands are using the early goings of tech’s biggest week to tell us that they’re doing their part. Because after all, a fully connected world isn’t possible until everything is actually, you know, connected.
If our oven is to ever preheat itself based on our location—whether thanks to a wearable or our vehicle itself—companies need to come together to make it happen. FitBit isn’t going to start making televisions, and Samsung won’t have a car prototype (at least not anytime soon). On Tuesday at CES, Ford and LG talked themselves up regarding new products and initiatives and progress, but the most important thing both companies unveiled was their associations with Amazon and Google, respectively, which could push the connected world ahead into more of a reality.
As part of the 2016 update on the car company’s “Smart Mobility” initiative, CEO Mark Fields highlighted new ability for Ford vehicles equipped with Sync 3 to work with Amazon’s smart home device, Echo. By itself, Echo allows someone to operate connected devices in their home with just their voice, and Ford has teamed up with Amazon to extend that capability to the car. By speaking into the Sync dashboard in a Ford vehicle, a driver can communicate with the Echo device in their home. If your Echo has the ability to turn your lights on or unlock your doors, you can now do this from your car. And the reverse is possible, too; someone can ask Echo to start their car, warming it up without having to bundle up.
Prior to CES, Ford also unveiled that Sync is compatible with both Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. iPhone users now have access to maps, messages, phone and music through Siri, and compatibility with Android Auto offers similar advantages for those users. This is a big step forward for the auto industry, which has long been behind the times technologically when it comes to driver and passenger comfort, entertainment, and accessibility. By integrating app ecosystems into Sync, Ford has enabled an in-vehicle screen to be just like a phone or computer—it can be updated when new technologies emerge. After all, many people own their car for years, and so the infotainment systems in cars have to be able adapt on-the-go. If not, they ‘re obsolete in a few years, let alone months.
LG focused much of their press conference on unveiling the features of their new premium products, LG Signature. The OLED G6 television is going to be talked about a lot this week, as is the LG Signature refrigerator whose door can open when your arms are full of groceries, thanks to a motion sensor. But like Ford, LG unveiled a partnership with another tech giant, Google, to provide more flexibility and possibilities to its future IoT plans.
Autonomous vehicles are going to be discussed ad-nauseam this week, but the recent news from General Motors on its partnership with Lyft is important, too. GM’s $500 million investment in the ride-sharing company will be used to hopefully create a network of self-driving cars. The future, if it pans out, will see people hailing a cab and getting to their destination without having to interact with another human being (the discussion of whether all of this technological progress is connecting us or actually disconnecting us is worth having, at another time). While Fields talked at length about Ford’s plans to produce their own autonomous vehicles, GM’s investment shows they’re taking a slightly different path when it comes to changing how we experience auto travel. Both major companies know, however, that they can’t do all of this alone.
Integration of major companies is a development that’s absolutely critical if a fully-autonomous, IoT world is ever to become a true reality.