• Jan 17th 2012 at 2:30PM
  • 28

The only thing we can show you is the image above. No video, no additional pics, just that.

Tucked away in the way-way-back of the South Hall at CES is Garmin's private meeting room. One section holds the company's current automotive, nautical and aviation systems, while the other is an exhibition of the future.

We sampled Garmin's new "Everest" setup, which includes one-shot voice commands and the ability to buy tracks from Amazon while you're listening to them over FM radio. You'll see it in cars later this year. We also sampled their "In2it" eight-way rotary controller (think a tech'd-out iDrive, MMI or COMAND knob), complete with proximity sensors and configurable buttons. Garmin is pitching it to OEMs right now.

But the system that blew our mind is dubbed K2. And the only thing we can show you is the image above. No video, no additional pics, just that.
K2 is a prototype for the next generation of cockpit design and it's the way things are going, like it or not.

The interface design is smooth, attractive and we want it in everything. Right. Now.

Situated in the middle of the dashboard is a 12-inch capacitive touchscreen. It can run either QNX or Linux and it's developed almost entirely in HTML5. The interface design is above and beyond anything we've ever seen from an OEM, let alone a supplier. It's smooth, attractive and we want it in everything. Right. Now.

You can customize every aspect of K2, primarily using an online portal. You set up a profile and choose what features you want, what routes you take on a regular basis, your calendar, your to-dos and your music, and it syncs everything over the air and into your car.

Imagine Apple's Siri technology distilled into an automotive grade application and you're not far off.

The instrument panel is one elongated, customizable screen, allowing you to change the gauges and get a continuous flow of information on the left side of the screen – weather, stocks, tweets, whatever. But it only displays these things while you're stopped.

It does text-to-speech for your calendar, reroutes you based on construction or accidents on your drive to work and then sends a message to your client that you'll be 15 minutes late. When you're driving, the entire interface collapses and simplifies so distractions are kept to a minimum. If you need to interact with the system, it's all about voice commands. Imagine Apple's Siri technology distilled into an automotive-grade application and you're not far off.

There are knobs. And switches. Something we prayed wouldn't go away in the future.

And there are knobs. And switches. Something we prayed wouldn't go away in the future. Garmin understands that we don't want to interact with just a touchscreen. We want tactility without giving up features. K2 delivers.

It also solves one of the most common complaints about most infotainment systems: allowing the passenger to use the system while the vehicle is in motion. Garmin installed a series of capacitive sensors in the steering wheel that detect if the driver's hands are on the wheel. If they are, the system opens up more of its features – from web browsing to navigation input – so the passenger can get things done. It's brilliant and far better than our own solution.

So when's it coming? Garmin reps are showing it off to automakers now, and if one of them bites it could be in cars as soon as 2014 or 2015. On our way out the door, we passed about a dozen Mazda engineers waiting for a demo. Take them up on it Mazda, because if you don't, some other automaker will.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, it's like the Tesla Model S right?
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is plenty of full motion video from CES 2012 of the Tesla Model S interior.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The manufacturers really need to get togeather and decide on a standard size for infotainment/navi systems so consumers can choose rather then shelling out $2000 for $300 worth of hardware. Its long overdue.
        • 3 Years Ago
        When most people buy cars, they want it to work, out of the box, with no fussing. They want iOS, not Android, in other words. Car companies are not going to deliver something that you can make tons of changes to (without some hassle) especially when it comes to driver safety. Especially when these systems are as integrated as they are - we're not just talking an ipad slapped in the center, we're talking the entire GUI of the car, including instrumentation, voice recognition, bluetooth integration, etc.
      Julio B
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chrysler already has Garmin navigation systems integrated into their cars, seems like a natural progression.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I look forward to the day I can see someone driving down the road with both hands on the wheel, trying to operate their touchscreen with their nose or something. ;-)
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 3 Years Ago
      "You set up a profile and choose what features you want, what routes you take on a regular basis, your calendar, your to-dos and your music, and it syncs everything over the air and into your car." Sounds like the cellphone I already have today, the only difference is I can take my cellphone with me when I get out. Considering what modern phones do today and their relative affordability, do we need yet another platform duplicating content we already have in yet another proprietary manner? Just build a system that will connect to my Android, iPhone or Windows Phone, mirror my phone interface on a dash panel and call it done. Surely that would be easier than building another entire platform and ecosystem from scratch.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        That's actually a really good idea. Some cell phone manufactures have docks that duplicate a phones UI to a PC or TV, but only if an OEM built a platform that allowed you to duplicate your phones UI to an in-car screen. Genius.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        I always thought that was a logical solution as well, but companies like to lock consumers into their own systems and are slow to adopt innovative ideas like this. I mean, it makes perfect sense for the phone to be the hub of the vehicle's infotainment system. Each user can have his personal seat position, mirror adjustments, temperature preferences, navigation routes, and music library automatically linked to the car upon docking into the console. I think it's just a matter of time before something like this becomes reality.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        Pioneer's AppRadio is at least a step towards this - except it's really just iDevice only. Hopefully that kind of setup becomes a bit more common though.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow that's ugly. Hey, let's put a huge touch screen with snazzy animations right in a driver's peripheral vision. What's the worst that could happen?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I never want to get a car with built in infotainment again... for one, it's always got a clunky interface, and it's always outdated by the time the car comes to market... i opted for the nav package on my honda fit a few years back for other reasons, thinking the nav would just be a nice addition... the next year, google made their free nav app that is light years ahead of my Fit's nav, and has no $150 update fee, not to mention an interface that is actually responsive... now my nav is simply a display for my ipod tracks Instead, give me a "blank slate" system that I can plug my iPad or android tablet or even my iphone/ipod into that then takes over the controls of the system via an app made by the auto maker... maybe encase the device in something that requires the key fob being in the car to open it up, to prevent theft...
      • 3 Years Ago
      The most impressive entertainment system I've experienced so far is the 5.0L V8 and 6MT in the '12 Mustang GT. Anything that I don't control with a wheel, three pedals, and a shifter, I don't consider entertainment.
      David S.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great, so my car of the future will come off the showroom lot with bloatware and bundled virus protection and I'll be spending four hours in my driveway rootkitting it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they could integrate it into the dash better, then I'd like the styling much more. I feel like someone could just rip that thing right out of my car.
        Rico Suave
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's a concept....
        • 3 Years Ago
        • 3 Years Ago
        You're right, but I think that dash is just a mock dash to give OEMs an idea of how big the system is. I envision it being carefully tucked behind a chrome bezel in a real car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It'll be nice when its hacked to stop the stupid restrictions on what I can do while I'm driving.
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