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These Five Technologies are Propelling Driving Into the Future

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and OnStar. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

Automotive designers have an endless appetite for innovation. Since the first car sputtered down the cobblestones in 1807, automobiles have consistently pushed the bounds of technical achievement. From integrating the latest technologies to developing entirely new ones altogether, cars are often the catalysts of technical innovation.

With internet connectivity making its way into cars and digital radar sensors and high definition projectors shrinking in size while increasing in sophistication, the next generation of automobiles is set to be the most innovative crop yet. Here's a look at five of the technologies that are bringing the future of driving one step closer.


Biometric Vehicle Access

We already use our thumbprints to unlock our smartphones, why not cars? Just as ignitions have become keyless in recent years, this technology suggests that soon we won't even need a fob to open and start a car. Biometric data — such as a thumbprint, retina scan, or voice sample — is taken and stored on a smartphone. Via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity to the car, the information is then used to open doors and even start the car. By foregoing keys in favor of biometric data, these systems present a major leap forward in security. Using this unique recognition software, the car can even adjust settings like seat position and media preferences to seamlessly adapt to different drivers.


Head-Up Displays

What started as a technology for pilots to be able to access data without taking their eyes off the sky has found its way into automobiles. While early renditions of head-up displays (HUDs) were fuzzy and limited in their capabilities, the latest models are crisp and wholly effective. The latest HUDs allow drivers to easily see their full dashboard, navigation information, and more without taking their eyes off the road. Projected into the driver's line of sight so one never needs to take their eyes off the road to access essential information, HUDs are a major step forward in both safety and convenience. Future systems hint at even more immersive displays that will take any guesswork out of navigating tricky roads and help drivers be better aware of what's on the road.


Responsive Center Consoles

While cars often pave the way in user experience, smartphones ushered in a new era of how people interact with technology. The latest technology in center consoles doesn't force users to relearn an entirely new system, it adapts based on what they already know. Cadillac's CUE system features an intuitive control interface with ultra-responsive pinch and zoom gestures just like you'd find on a smartphone. Furthermore, the entire system is designed to ensure minimal distraction. The industry-first proximity sensing technology means the screen comes alive before you even touch it. Meanwhile haptic feedback (another industry first) delivers a vibration through the screen when you've made contact with an icon. With ultra-responsive center consoles, safety is never sacrificed for sophistication.


Active Assistance

Advanced radar sensors in cars has made it possible for cars to correct for driver error — or in some cases simply help us into a tight parking space. While the ever-dreaded parallel parking portion of a driver's license road test won't become obsolete anytime soon, the need to actually do it just might. Already available in many cars, these sensors detect objects and open spaces, then take over at the wheel (literally) ensuring you have a bump-free parking job. Additional applications include active lane assistance to prevent drifting on the highway, smart cruise control that lowers your speed if you get too close to another car and even active breaking that detects objects ahead of the car.


Night Vision

No longer just for super heroes and special ops, night vision is a major safety innovation making its way into many cars — and they're becoming more and more advanced each year. Infrared night vision safety systems are designed to pick up objects drivers wouldn't normally see. These systems are especially useful at detecting wildlife (since deer don't come standard with LED headlights). Additionally, night vision is beneficial for detecting pedestrians and cyclists in congested urban areas.

Each of these technologies presents a new frontier for automotive advancement. As these technologies find their way into more and more cars, they will undoubtedly continue to become more sophisticated. Thanks to these technical achievements, the future of driving is exceptionally bright with safety and human-centered design powering the ongoing tradition of innovation in the automotive industry.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and OnStar. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

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