Archive for the ‘CEATEC’ Category

Every year, the CEATEC Innovation Award recognizes the most promising technology at the Consumer Electronics And Technology Conference, Japans largest trade show of its kind. This year’s nine categories were taken under the wing of 7 judges, comprised of prominent U.S. journalists and industry advisors, who explored the entirety of the show to find what technologies are making, or will soon make, a difference in people’s lives. I was again honored to serve as a judge on the panel, and as one of the founding members, and it’s absolutely overwhelming the professionalism and depth of knowledge the other judges possess and use during this annual event.

And the winners of the 2016 CEATEC Innovation Awards are (press release):
Transportation – Panasonic Touch Panel with Rotary Knobs
Smart Community – 4R Energy Freedom
Digital Imaging – VRC Shun’x Full Body 3D scanner
Mobile Technology – DJI Osmo Mobile
Home Entertainment – Aroma Shooter Mini
Component – Panasonic Bendable, Twistable Battery
Software – NEC Security Guard Support Solution
Health & Household – Fujitsu Retissa Rental Imaging Laser
Industrial Design – Honda Variable Design Platform (VDP)
GRAND PRIZE:
Fujitsu Retissa Retinal Imaging Laser
And, of course, here’s our awesome panel of judges:
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Details of all the winners can be found at the Ubergizmo write-up.

Want to see of the latest and greatest tech before it hits our shores? Then hit CEATEC, Japan’s largest consumer electronics trade show, held in Makuhari Messe every year in October.

Below are some of the highlights from the first day of the show. If you want to see all the videos I’m taking at CEATEC 2016, which cover many items I’m not writing about, take a look at my YouTube playlist.

Yukai BOCCO SIM Robot

Yukai showed their BOCCO SIM robot, designed to sit in the home and notify occupants of events. New this year is a sensor to detect a door locking and unlocking, so you know if someone left the home unprotected. Users can also leave messages for others when they arrive home. The robot cannot differentiate between user voices. The $240 product is available on Amazon and the $35 sensor should be coming soon.

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Honda 3D Printed Car

Honda showed off a 3D printed vehicle, using their Vehicle Design Platform. In tandem with cookie company Toshimaya, and design firm Kabuku, the shell of the battery-powered vehicle was 3D printed, and placed over the chassis provided by Honda. The shell is made from ABS plastic, and in the photos you can see the polished, finished surfaces versus those needing a final pass. Printing took 1 month, occurring 24×7, using a Stratosys Focus 900 printer, one of the largest in the industry. The vehicle utilizes a motorcycle-like pipe frame, has an 80 kilometer range, a large lithium ion battery, and a small cartridge battery for adding extra range 15 kilometers at a time.

Omron Table Tennis Robot – Now with Player Skill Recognition

Omron’s Table Tennis robot was a hit last year, beating its human challengers handily. This year, the system can detect a player’s skill and curb its own abilities when playing. We were also treated to watching the device break its arm, and the engineers had to come out and fix it. Omron’s solution has been recognized as the first robot table tennis tutor. Unexpectedly, it does not recognize different players, nor does it use deep learning, so it doesn’t get any better as it plays.

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NEC Police Officer Body Cam Video Analysis System

NEC showed off their Security Guard Support Solution, which works in tandem with vest-worn law enforcement cameras. The system can extract faces in the video feed and send them to an officer’s smartwatch for suspect identification, assisted by facial recognition. Accuracy detection rate is 90%. NEC also showed how it can compensate for low bandwidth or unpredictable network coverage with a blur compensation algorithm that appeared to greatly enhance the video playback quality and smoothness.

Rakuten ZapZap Word Cloud Shopping Assistant

Rakuten, the largest online retailer in Japan, again showed advanced customer assistance technologies at this year’s CEATEC. One, the ZapZap, enables a customer to place a book on an enhanced table, and see keywords from that book begin to hover around the cover. Tapping a word brings up a related passage from the book to ease browsing. The solution uses an RGBD camera, basically RGB plus Depth, to provide this service.

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Panasonic Bendable Battery Prototype

Panasonic showed off a prototype bendable lithium ion battery solution, capable of bending and not losing any power from the process. This package could enable batteries in watch straps, hats, and many wearables. The largest cell was 60 mAh. Samples will be available in October. You can see the bendability in the video below.

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Panasonic Listnr Baby Talk Recognition App

Japan faces an increasing number of two-working-parent households. Keeping track of a baby’s needs is more difficult when mommy and daddy aren’t home. Panasonic’s Listnr device listens to and recognizes a baby’s sounds and sends alerts to an app reporting whether baby is happy, sad, angry, and so forth. You can see the interface in the photos below. The system is already available on Amazon.

Hobot Window Washing Robot

Hobot showed off their latest window cleaning robot, the Model 198. Like their other units, the system must be plugged in to run. If disconnected from power, it can stay stuck to the window for up to 20 minutes before falling. However, it stops cleaning when that happens. Not sure of the point, but it was cool to see a window washing equivalent of the Roomba, even if it wasn’t nearly as well thought out.

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Epson PaperLab In-Office Paper Recycling Plant

Why send your paper out to be recycled when you could do it yourself? Epson’s PaperLab is about 9 feet wide, 6 feet high, and 5 feet deep and fits in a decently sized copier room. Feed it paper and it shreds it, removes all text, and within 3 minutes it will have recycled that paper. Once the system gets going – that 3 minute startup period – it can churn out 14 A4 size pages per minute. Choose the color of paper you’d like, its weight (thickness), and even add an optional scent, and voila – paper from paper. The system will be released in Japan this year. There is no water or waste, due to Epson’s proprietary Dry Fiber technology. Price unannounced, but it’s going to be “affordable” according to an Epson representative.

The recycling process is as follows:

  1. Insert Waste Paper
  2. Restore Paper to Fiber Form
  3. Use Binders to Bind Paper and Increase Strength and Whiteness
  4. Pressure Form the Paper, optionally mixing CMY to change color, and/or add scent
  5. New Paper is Ready

VoiceITT Speech Impediment Correction App

VoiceITT showed their TalkIT app for those with speech impediments. If you stutter, slur your speech, or have some other impediment, the solution clears up your speech in realtime so people can better understand you. VoiceITT is targeting those with autism, brain injuries, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, MS, strokes, ALS, and throat cancer, among others that affect a person’s normal ability to speak clearly. Quite fascinating in my opinion. The startup has already raised over $750K in funding. See the video below for an example.

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Blincam Camera for Eyewear

I often find myself wishing I could take a photo of whatever I’m seeing at the moment without whipping out my camera. Some cool bird, a funny shirt or license plate, anything – and the moment is right and easily missed if only a few seconds pass. ShapChat has their Spectacles product coming with a built-in camera to address such a need. However, if those loud, bright, and slightly cheap-looking, shades aren’t your thing, Blincam may be exactly what you’re looking for. The device attaches to practically any pair of eyewear, and takes a photo when it detects you’ve blinked. Resolution is only 1920×1080, but that’s good enough for an Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook upload.

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VRC’s Lightning Fast Full Body Scan 3D Model Generator

VRC showed off their CVS – Virtual Reality + Creative – 3D model scanner. The solution can take photos in 4 seconds of any 3D object, and within 2 minutes it will have a full 360 degree render of the subject. That’s 30x faster than existing systems, which take 1-2 hours to perform the same task.

Aroma Shooter Wearable Scent Transmitter

AromaJoin’s Aroma Shooter showed a scent transmitting wearable that can send quickly multiple scents in specific directions without switching cartridges. This overcomes a common issue with “scent” solutions – often they only contain one scent at a time, run slowly, and are relatively pointless. The AromaShooter solution is quick and directional, so it can send different scents to multiple surrounding recipients, with effectively no overlay. So, whatever it is you’re smelling, your neighbor wouldn’t. I can think of a few uses for that one!

The full size Aroma Shooter holds 7 cartridges and can switch in 0.1 seconds, the fastest of its kind. The Aroma Shooter Mini holds 1 cartridge, and can be placed on any metal surface due to its magnet. All products use Bluetooth LE. 200 scents are available so far.

AromaJoin will begin its Kickstarter campaign in May 2017.

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CEATEC is Japan’s largest consumer electronics trade show, and is similar to our state-side CES. Held in Makuhari every year, the show boasts over 100,000 attendees and hundreds of vendors, showcasing the latest technology in everything from fully manufactured consumer-ready products to the individual components necessary to build them.

As a judge on this year’s Innovation Awards, I had the opportunity to tour the show floor and get a first look at some amazing tech before the public stampedes the halls looking for the same.

Fujitsu’s Emotion Sensing Robot

Just look at the video… Skynet is coming.

ROHM “Machine Health” Solution

ROHM showed off a “Machine Health” factory equipment monitoring solution. The board, running the LAPIS processor at 920MHz, enables retrofitting of factory equipment with sensors. Data can be transmitted with enOcean, a common transmission solution, and Wi-Sun, among others. Once equipment has the board and sensors attached, the ROHM software brings all sensor data to a single front-end interface, altering factory personnel of any machine issues. This solution may save cost by not requiring new machine purchases for safer use monitoring, rather using new “IoT-like” technology and tacking it onto existing equipment.
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Next Generation Lazurite ORIZURU Flying Crane

RoHM introduced a new version of their ORIZURU flying origami. Running their 3.1g Lazurite processor, operating at 920MHz, the board solution is light enough to enable the device, including the battery. This year they added two additional wings, for a total of four, a tail motor, and a wrist-worn cuff to control flying. As you can see in the video below, the flight capabilities aren’t yet perfected.

ALPS IoT Smart Module Package

Alps showed the new version of their Next Generation Development Kit for IoT Smart Module package. After selling 1,400 units last year, they received useful feedback and this is the result. The solution is now expandable, supporting SDC, I/O, SPI, and I2C (“I Squared C”) modules. It also sports 4 megabytes of RAM, enabling logging of data for about one month when communication is bad, or the system doesn’t need to call home often. With a standard CR232 battery, the system can log data for up to 1 year between data dumps.

Murata Traffic Counter System

Murata showed off their Project Atlas traffic counting solution, blanketing a community’s traffic signals and road signage with IR sensors to monitor traffic flow. A prototype implementation has been running in Bangkok for 2 years now and has seen relative success. It takes one sensor every 500 meters to monitor 4 lanes of traffic. The system is not available for sale as of yet. When asked what challenges they face with IR to monitor the traffic, the most complex was noted to be heavy rain.

Fujitsu Palm Vein Verification

Fujitsu showed off its palm-vein-based payment solution. Users register their vein print and link it to any number of credit cards, point cards, and so forth. Veins are used due to the much larger set of verification data points. 17 million people are already using this system – ATM use in Brazil for example. The system uses near infrared to penetrate the skin, so skin color shouldn’t be an issue, according to the representative. Error rate is 0.000001%. Facial recognition wasn’t used due to glasses, weight changes, and contacts changing the verification pattern. While this solution has been available for a few years, Fujitsu’s new version of the senor, available this year, has more power, and can be placed in more environments, including automobiles.

Fujitsu Global Security Management and Hacking Demonstration

Fujitsu showed off a hacker doing a “real” attack – actually using a real hacking tool, Armitage – and explained how their security system could prevent this. See the video below for a replay of the actual attack against a Windows XP machine.

Fujitsu Laser Eyewear

Fujitsu’s laser eye projection solution projects a 720P image directly on the retina. The technology is intended for those with low sight capabilities.
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Fujitsu Ontenna

Fujitsu’s Ontenna – a play on the words “antenna” and “On” (own) the Japanese word for “sound” – uses a vibrating device placed in the hair to help those who are deaf or hearing impaired detect sounds. According to Fujitsu, our hair is very sensitive, so it’s the perfect medium to relay sound information. Users overwhelmingly wanted the hair solution versus any other sort of attachment. This was due to the device no longer touching the skin, and therefore not causing irritation. Using two in parallel can assist in distance and sound location detection.
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Fujitsu Smart City

Fujitsu’s citywide surveillance solution can visualize an entire city by monitoring vehicles, people, and objects in realtime. Advanced deep learning technology can detect suspicious activity, identify faces, read license plates, and more. It can also detect available parking spots using a single 1080P camera to track up to 100 spots.

Fujitsu LiveTalk Realtime Language Translation

Fujitsu’s natural language conversion solution can translate 12 different languages in realtime and seemed pretty accurate in our demo. See the video below for an example.

If you want to see next year’s consumer electronics trends, go the current year’s CEATEC. The largest CE show in Japan, held in Makuhari for at least the past 7 years, plays host to products and their components from all over the Asia Pacific area, where most of the CE industry innovation resides.

In a nutshell, based on what was observed at this show, I can practically put money on the items below being the CE Trends for 18 months. You can see many of these reflected in the winners of the CEATEC Innovation Awards, a panel on which I’m a judge.

  • 4K Television Sets + 8K, 3D is dead again and hey, why not buy a 4K set?
  • AR Headsets, likely trending towards VR – I’m thinking AR leads to head-mounted Android Wear, and, heaven forbid, iGlasses
  • Better device user experiences, totally non-techie

Over the next 3 years, probably the following:

  • “Simple” Robots transforming healthcare and family interaction
  • Family, home, and building monitoring solutions, healthcare
  • 5G wireless

The Under-appreciated Heroes of our Industry

I feel it’s harder to innovate full products these days. Many CE technologies we see in the pipeline are simply better, smaller, faster, higher resolution, more efficient versions of what’s come before. The real shining star of this industry is the component manufacturers and what they’ve been capable of. The second rarely told story is the countless research hours creating amazing solutions most American consumers will never hear of.

TV Asahi covered the CEATEC show and its Innovation Awards panel, of which I’m a member. Apologies for the noisiness… I don’t get an official copy for a few weeks, so I recorded it from the TV in my hotel room Smile

Quite the day… have a look!

Below are my notes from Day 1 of the CEATEC show in Makuhari, Japan.

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Sony Info-Eye + Sony Social Live

Sony showcased two unique social apps, Info Eye and Social Live, part of their Smart Social Camera initiative.

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Info Eye takes an image and analyzes it for different types of information, surfacing that information in different views. For example, take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and you are presented with different "views" of the data. The first view may be related photos of the French attraction, such as a view from the top, or the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. Change views and you’re presented with a map of Paris. Continue to the next view and see your friends’ comments on social networks about the attraction. It certainly is an innovative approach to automatically get benefits from simple photo taking – photos you normally wouldn’t look at again anyway.

A video is worth thousands of pictures, and you already know what those are worth:

And in case you simply want a picture:

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Social Live is like a live video feed, streamed from your phone to various social services. While the example of a live marriage proposal wasn’t so realistic, Social Live still has great consumer applications. For example, set a social live link on Facebook and your friends could view your video feed while you tour the Champs Elise in Paris, without your needing to initiate a Skype call. It’s similar to having a live broadcast stream ready to go at any time.

3D 4K Everywhere!

3D didn’t entice the world – again – so, why not re-use all that marketing material, swapping 4K for 3D? No, it’s not that bad, and 4K is beautiful, but it’s just too early, too expensive, as is almost every evolutionary technology like this. Just for fun I  made a collage of the various offerings. Component innovation is once again creating products at a pace greater than the consumers’ willingness to adopt.

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Tizen IVI Solutions at Intel

Intel had a sizeable display of Tizen OS based In-Vehicle Infotainment solutions at its booth. Apparently Intel had 800 developers working on Tizen while partnered with Nokia on the OS-formerly-known-as-MeeGo. The most interesting Tizen demonstration was Obigo’s HTML5-based IVI solution. On a related note, Samsung is apparently folding their Bada OS into Tizen. It will be interesting to see whether it makes any difference in the global mobile OS movement, still dominated by Android, then iOS, then Windows Phone.

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Obigo’s HTML5-based In-Vehicle-Infotainment Solution

Obigo’s solution is to automotive application development what PhoneGap is to standard mobile application development. Developers build widgets using HTML5 + JavaScript, accessing vehicle data and services via an abstraction layer provided by the Obigo engine. Apps in Obigo’s system are called widgets. Nothing appears to prevent Obigo from bringing this solution to Android, so look for that possibility on the various Android vehicle head units coming to market. Hyundai and Toyota will be the first integrators of the system.

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Apparently Japanese Car Insurance is Very Expensive

Another solution shown at the Intel Tizen display was a driving habits monitor capable of sending an email to your insurance company with said information. The goal would be to lower insurance rates. The solution was a hokey implementation at best, but at least I’ve learned insurance is expensive here as well.

Fujitsu Elderly Care Cloud

In an effort to keep Japan’s increasingly elderly population in touch with their families, Fujitsu has created a "Senior Cloud." The benefit to seniors will apparently be video and photo communication and sharing services with their family, alongside healthcare detail sharing services. I couldn’t get a demo, but it sounds like a good idea. For the next 10-20 years, anyway – by then, the "elderly" will have become the people who know how to do these things.

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ModCrew iPhone Waterproofing Coat

ModCrew displayed a nano-coating solution for iPhones (only), rendering your fruit phone washable.

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Omron Basil Thermometer with DoCoMo Health Smartphone App

Omron has a unique line of basil thermometers, with pleasant shapes and colors, targeted (obviously) towards women. The devices, among other Omron health device solutions, can all transmit their data via NFC to phones and tablets. Using an app from NTT DoCoMo, health data can be consolidated and analyzed, and health advice can be provided.

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All health components gather data to recommend healthy choices.

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Huawei Phone with Panic Alarm

Chinese consumer and mobile electronics provider Huawei showcased their HW-01D feature phone with a built-in panic alarm. Targeted towards women, children, and the elderly, the device has a pull tab that sets off a loud, yet oddly pleasant, siren to scare away would-be perpetrators.

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Fujitsu Finger Link

Fujitsu’s Finger Link solution uses a top-mounted camera to convert physical objects to virtual objects, enabling you to organize and relate such items for later manipulation. For example, put 3 Post It notes down and they are converted to digital representations, automatically recognized as separate objects. Tap each related item and drag a line between others similar to the first. Tap a button on the projected interface and now they’re related, moveable, sharable, and more.

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Fujitsu Sleepiness Detection Sensor

A hot item in vehicles displayed at CEATEC this year was detection of distracted driving. Fujitsu’s component detects eyes moving away from the road, a downward or upward motion possibly signifying the driver is drowsy. The component is for use by automotive integrators.

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Fujitsu big data + open data quiet service, LOD utilization Platform

Fujitsu showcased an open LOD utilization platform for quickly and easily mining and analyzing the data from many Open Data sources all at once, visually. The back-end is using the SPARQL query language.

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Mitsubishi 4K LaserVue

Mitsubishi showcased a prototype 4K Red Laser + LED backlit display, enabling a beautiful, beyond photorealistic video display. Standing in front of the reference unit, I actually felt like I was looking through a window – the colors were amazingly vivid and lifelike.

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Mitsubishi elevator skyscraper swap detection system

Mitsubishi also showcased a solution for preventing elevator stalls in swaying skyscrapers. Their sensor moves the elevator cart to a non-swaying or less-swaying floor to prevent service outages, keeping the elevators running as efficiently as possible, and giving you one less excuse to miss that meeting.

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Mitsubishi 100Gbps optical transmission technology

Mitsubishi showcased a 100 gigabit/second inter-city optical interconnect solution, with a range up to 9000 kilometers.

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Mitsubishi Vector Graphics Accelerating GPU

Who says you need multi-core ARM processors running over 1 GHz + powerful GPUs for beautiful embedded device interfaces? Mitsubishi sure doesn’t. They showcased a GPU running at a scant 96 MHz, accelerating vector graphics display at up to 60 frames per second. Incredibly responsive interfaces for elevators and boat tachometers were displayed. The target is rich user interfaces with incredibly low power consumption.

Related notes:

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Mitsubishi Rear Projection Display for Automotive

It’s no surprise Mitsubishi is proposing rear projection solutions for automotive – RP is one of the company’s strengths. What they propose is curved surfaces to provide an interface that matches the interior of the vehicle. Also possible is 3D-like interfaces, as shown below.

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Sharp Frameless TV Concept

A display with no bezel? Sharp’s frameless concept showcases how beautiful such a solution would be. That it in the center.

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Sharp Mirror Type Display

Also on display (ahem) was the Mirror Type Display, with a display built into a mirror. Have I said display enough times?

Pioneer Wireless Blu-ray Drive

That shiny new ultrabook is pretty svelte, isn’t it? What’s that? You want to watch a Blu-ray? That’s fine – just use Pioneer’s BDR-WFS05J solution to wirelessly connect to the Blu-ray drive across the room and stream the data over 802.11N, as long as it’s in its dock. The unit also supports USB 2 and 3. Ships at the end of September.

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Toyota Smart Home HEMS Using Kinect

Toyota showcased a smart home energy management system (HEMS) using Kinect to interact with various residents.

Toyota Concept Vehicles

I don’t know much about the following one-person electric riders, but they looked cool, so enjoy the photos.

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Clarion Smart Access + EcoAccel

Determining whether you’re driving Green, or "Eco" as they say in Japan, can be difficult. Clarion’s EcoAccel app, which runs on their Android-powered head unit, reads ODB2 sensor data to rate your Eco driving habits. It’s an entertaining way to enhance the eco-friendliness of your driving routine. The representative said there are no current plans to bring this product Stateside, but I’m hoping they change their mind. After all, ODB2 data is pretty easy to read, even if it’s not entirely standardized.

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Mazda Heads Up Cockpit

While the HUD component is nothing to write home about, Mazda’s approach of keeping everything at eye level, while re-organizing the shift knob to also be easily manipulated was a welcome safe-driving-meets-ergonomics approach. Better yet, they will be shipping this in their Axela vehicles, meaning less expensive vehicles may be readily receiving technology to deter distracted driving. They call this the Heads Up Cockpit with a Concentration Center Display.

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Mazda Connect System

Mazda also showcased the Mazda Connect system, enabling car communication and software components to be "easily" upgraded as new features are available. Whether this will be an insanely expensive solution, akin to Samsung’s upgradeable TV approach, remains to be seen.

It’s fascinating to see how some of the most innovative products are coming from what used to be one of the least innovative industries: automotive.