CES 2022 Welcome sign - Getty Images

As companies like Xperi and Quu actively market technologies designed to improve how radio looks in the dashboard, broadcasters attending CES 2022 last week got a bit of a wake-up call about the importance of stepping up their efforts in this area. “For the radio broadcasters attending, the dashboard screen real estate expansion was like a wakeup call that visuals are clearly an important part of the mix here and how radio content can fit into that,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said after escorting a group of broadcasters on curated tours of radio-relevant exhibits at the tech show.

Some red lights also went off in seeing firsthand how radio is one option of many for entertainment in new cars being displayed at the show, virtually all of which are connected. “Radio broadcasters came away from the tour talking about a future where radio is one of many choices in the vehicles we will drive – or that will drive us,” said Jacobs. “More and more, they’re coming to the realization that if their content isn’t compelling and attention-getting, the multitude of dashboard choices will weaken radio’s position as a driving companion.”

Many of the radio participants got their first look at DTS AutoStage when the tours stopped at the Xperi exhibit. The hybrid radio technology combines over the air audio with IP-delivered metadata to enhance AM/FM radio discovery and provide a deeper, more engaging user experience.

At last year’s 100% virtual CES, Mercedes Benz unveiled its hyper screen feature that’s made up of several individual displays mounted in a single glass-covered housing that spans 56 inches and stretches clear across the dashboard. This year, Turkey’s youngest automaker, TOGG, made its North American public debut at CES, displaying a new concept car with a mouthful of a name: Transition Concept Smart Device. It, too, sports a massive screen that spans the entire width of the dashboard. “It really looks like it's becoming a trend,” Jacobs notes of pillar-to-pillar dashboard displays, a trend that radio is paying closer attention to. “The broadcasters on the tour talked about display getting much more oxygen at CES, thanks to futuristic dashboards, more screens, and advancements in glass, all designed to entertain and inform drivers – and passengers – or as they’re now being called, ‘co-drivers.’ The need for radio brands to display well in cars has never been greater.”

The Maturation Of AI

Beyond sophisticated dashboard displays, CES 2022 also showcased how automakers are using artificial intelligence to deliver a better – and personalized – user experience. Vietnamese automaker VinFast showed off five electric vehicles that integrate Smart Services, including in-car control features such as Voice Assistant, Virtual Assistant and E-Commerce Services, according to TU Automotive. VinFast also plans to introduce new technologies using artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning platforms.

Jacobs Media General Manager Paul Jacobs says the use of AI in the car inverts the trend of consumers initiating an action to access their desired entertainment. “One of the biggest leaps we saw at CES reverses that through the maturation of AI. A gadget – your car, for example – learns your preferences across multiple levels. It measures your mood, fatigue, and other factors and combines that with knowledge of your preferences,” he says. “The result is the ability to react to the consumer with a customized content experience, constantly being modified based on these factors. The machines are learning us, and giving us what we want, sometimes even before we know we want it.”

Other stops on the radio tours included Deep Brain AI, which uses deep learning and video synthesis technologies to create AI versions of people for customer-facing and presenter-led industries. The technology opens up all sorts of possibilities for in-demand media personalities. “You could have a personality doing live video reads or appearances at clients, that kind of thing,” says Fred Jacobs.

These and other innovations on display at CES have implications that go far beyond entertainment and speak to how smart technology is being integrated into nearly every facet of human life. “Technology is shaping the experience of everything. Radio and entertainment is part of that it's bigger than us,” says Paul Jacobs. “It's just permeating everything at this point.”

Fred Jacobs offers more observations from CES in the blog post, “What Was The Coolest Gadget You Saw At CES 2022?”