Walking toward your locked car, you reach into your pocket and simply press a button on your key chain. Within an instant, your car is unlocked, and you step inside and start the engine. You need to find your friend's new apartment, but you don't know quite where it is -- lucky for you, you have the address written down and your trusty GPS receiver is in the glove compartment. After you power it up and punch in the location, you're on your way. The only thing this ride needs is a little music, so you plug your iPod into its docking station and turn up the volume.
We don't think about it too often, but the cars we drive to work, school and everywhere in between rely on electronics more than ever before. Not only are electronics essential to the inner workings of our cars' chemical functions; they now provide us with entertainment and information we may want or need during our drive.
In-car electronics, once thought to be a lagging business in the automotive industry, are now part of a fast-growing market in the auto industry. As we found out this year during our trip to Las Vegas for the 2008 Consumer Electronics Exhibition (CES), one of the big themes many companies are pushing is the seamless integration of electronics systems in our vehicles.
The people making the product aren't the only ones thinking about it -- consumers are extremely interested in these gadgets, too, and sales for in-car electronics are expected to rise about 12 percent in 2008. With advances in wireless technology and satellite information systems like GPS receivers, drivers are trying to make commutes to work and long distance trips much easier. The money they pour in to do so is creating $12 billion in revenue.
In this article, we'll take a look at some of the technology fueling the electronics market and how they make life easier for drivers.