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There are a lot of things to be thankful for each and every year. The mere fact that you’re able to read this article while sitting in your comfy couch with a warm cup of coffee is just one among many good reasons to celebrate life. If you’re a car lover though, this year has given you even more things to be thankful for. Various technological breakthroughs and advancements have led to a lot of new innovative features that make owning and driving a vehicle easier and less stressful than before.

Some of the features listed below are still in the development stage, but the fact that carmakers are doing their best to bring them into reality is still worth celebrating this Thanksgiving 2019. Here are the car technology innovations to be thankful for this year.

1. Biometric Security and Ignition Systems

Soon, you may never have to worry about misplacing your key fob ever again. That’s because car manufacturers have developed built-in fingerprint scanners that could serve as your vehicle’s security and ignition system access. One of the pioneering automakers to have successfully incorporated biometric scanners on a production vehicle is Hyundai, with some variants of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe getting the feature in select markets.

With fingerprint recognition technology, drivers could unlock and start their cars without turning a key, pushing a button, or needing to have a key fob within proximity range. A sensor is installed on the exterior door handle, which sends encrypted data to the car’s computer to unlock the vehicle. Multiple drivers can register a fingerprint with the car owner’s permission. More interestingly, seating preferences and other cabin features can be personalized depending on the fingerprint that has been read by the system.

, Automotive Innovations To Be Thankful For in 2019
Soon, AR HUD technology could allow drivers to easily access information such as weather, area, and traffic information through the windshield.

2. Augmented Reality Head-Up Display

Windshield-projected head-up displays or HUDs have been around since the 1980s, which means the technology isn’t entirely new. Originally, HUDs projected speed and other basic readings from the dashboard to the windshield. Some aftermarket HUDs that are still available today come with a transparent glass screen that projects speed and other various information.

Fast forward to the 21st century and automakers have successfully developed a more advanced version of the HUD that uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology. AR HUDs can project GPS systems in the form of a 3D navigational map. It incorporates information from infrared cameras and other different sensors and could be paired with 5G network technology in the future.

Think of the AR HUD as the navigational guide from your favorite racing video game. AR HUDs can project arrows or even highlight the lane you should be in to improve your driving experience. Further development may include other information such as weather, area, and traffic information. Thanks to AR HUDs, drivers may soon never have to glance down at the center console or instrument cluster to check various vehicle information again.

3. Rear-Passenger VR Experience

Parents and kids rejoice, a technological breakthrough that aims to provide a more peaceful family drive is now within grasp. Audi partnered with Disney earlier this year to introduce the backseat Virtual Reality (VR) experience—the solution parent drivers have been seeking for years. Kids at the backseat may soon relax, enjoy, and mind their own business during a weekend family trip. In short, there’d be less distraction for the driver, which should translate to safer roads.

The idea of a backseat VR experience is to make every ride a moving theater with tons of themes to choose from. A promotional video published by Holoride, the tech startup that Audi is investing in, showed three interactive themes, from a cute town full of little chicks to a dinosaur world and a galactic conquest. Based on the video, the interactive VR experience was fed with navigation data and was supported by the vehicle’s cameras and sensors. This gives it a more realistic experience that should keep the kids occupied throughout the trip.

4. Automated Driving

Autonomous car technology has been the subject of news headlines for the past few years. This year, more automakers have shown some success in their research and development in the self-driving car space. Actual autonomous taxis, shuttle buses, and connected ride-hailing units from various car manufacturers around the world are proof that the future of automobiles is almost here.

5. In-car Emotion Detector

Cars may soon read your emotions as you ride in them. Kia introduced its Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) system at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which analyzes the driver and passenger’s physiological emotions based on facial expressions. This artificial intelligence (AI) system’s main purpose is to provide haptic warnings, though it also has the ability to adjust the music, cabin lighting, and climate control system among others to prevent your mood from getting in the way of driving. It’s like the drowsiness detection feature but better, as it can alter cabin experience based on the driver’s mood.

, Automotive Innovations To Be Thankful For in 2019
Adaptive cruise control takes over the vehicle’s acceleration and braking to match the speed of the vehicle in front.

6. Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control has been around since the early ‘90s but it was only available on select high-end vehicles. Its popularity peaked in the past few years and it has now trickled down and become available even on more affordable passenger cars. This feature takes control of the vehicle’s acceleration and braking to match the speed of the vehicle in front. The ACC is one of the most helpful Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) available today.

7. Wireless EV charging

Wireless charging is widely applied on different devices such as phones and other home appliances. It’s safe to say that it hasn’t been utilized in cars yet, but various reports online say things will soon be different. BMW is funding a pilot program in the U.S. that aims to create the world’s first wireless car charger. In short, no more park-and-plug because charging your EV will soon be as easy as parking over a charging pad and simply walking away.

Unfortunately, wireless charging pads won’t be available real soon. However, the idea that BMW is putting in the effort to come up with a fully-working wireless car charger is impressive. It’s one of the few concepts to be thankful for because it will make EV-ownership simpler and more enjoyable.

8. Development in Keyless Security Systems

Apart from fingerprint scanners on door handles and ignition switches, there are improvements on keyless entry systems in cars. One perfect example of this is Jaguar’s Activity Key, which comes in the form of a wristband. This wristband acts as the key fob that triggers the vehicle’s locking system when placed over a concealed antenna. The Activity Key is waterproof to suit the lifestyle of watersports-active drivers.

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