Manufacturers to unveil innovations at CES
Gentex, GHSP say new technologies are part of ongoing shift toward smart, connected surroundings.
West Michigan manufacturers are getting ready to present their latest product advances at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The annual international trade show hosted by the Consumer Technology Association is Jan. 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Zeeland-based Gentex and Grand Haven-based GHSP, a subsidiary of JSJ Corporation, each have new and emerging products to demonstrate at the event.
Gentex, founded in 1974, is a supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and electronics to the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows to the aviation industry and fire-protection products to the fire industry.
Founded in 1924 as Grand Haven Stamped Products, GHSP designs and manufactures control systems and technology solutions primarily for the automobile and high-end appliance industries.
Craig Piersma, director of marketing at Gentex, is in charge of his company’s display at CES. He said Gentex introduces new technologies at CES in stages: first as concept demonstrations; then as prototypes; then integrated into the space in which it will be used, such as a vehicle; then after-market, which means after a product is sold and shipped to its first customers.
“What we try to achieve at CES is to launch new technology, but we also just try to demonstrate and validate our own technology strategies,” Piersma said.
The first product category that Gentex will feature at CES is digital vision.
The most recent, hybrid version of Gentex’s existing Full Display Mirror — a single-camera vision system — will be on display. According to a video Piersma created for gentextech.com, the product has “bimodal functionality,” meaning it is “capable of operating either as a standard automatic dimming mirror” or in rear video mode, in which live footage from around the vehicle is displayed on the mirror’s panoramic LCD screen. The company said the LCD display mode provides a view that’s unobstructed by cargo or blind spots, while the standard view offers a fail-safe version for technology malfunctions that also can be used when the driver needs to see the rear passengers.
Another digital vision innovation to be featured is the hybrid Camera Monitoring System, a three-camera vision system that “integrates video from rear and side cameras” into various views the driver can select from, according to Gentex.
One is called “dynamic spotter view,” where an inset image of the side camera view appears on the screen at a key moment.
“Imagine looking up to the digital rearview mirror and seeing what’s in your blind spot in a smaller image in the rearview mirror,” Piersma said.
Another digital vision innovation to be featured at CES is Gentex’s “custom-made, high-performance rear vision mirrors” for professional race car drivers, which will eventually be available for consumer vehicles, Piersma said.
Under its connected car business, Gentex will demonstrate HomeLink Connect at CES — which was announced last year — along with a previously announced integrated toll payment transponder and a biometric, mirror-integrated iris scanning system.
HomeLink Connect is a technology that allows users to control their garage door and other home automation systems from the vehicle’s center console, rearview mirror, overhead, visor and more — using the HomeLink app, which is now available from the App Store and Google Play.
Piersma said Jaguar Land Rover is the first OEM customer for the technology, and its HomeLink Connect-equipped vehicles will begin shipping soon. In about a year, an after-market version will be available.
The iris authentication tool — which would “scan and store an image of the iris as a digital template,” Piersma said — has not yet been sold to customers, but he noted its potential as a safety feature. After the iris scan, the biometric system confirms the driver’s identity and adjusts to his or her preset settings. If an unauthorized driver takes the wheel, it limits functionality or shuts the vehicle down completely.
“If my teenage sons get in, it could limit speed, lower the radio volume and block out texting,” Piersma said.
The biometric technology also allows the vehicle owner to add authorized users, who can then personalize the seat position, rearview mirror, temperature control, radio favorites and GPS settings.
“We will actually have this iris recognition system integrated into a car (at the show),” Piersma said.
Gentex’s final product category to be showcased at CES is dimmable glass.
“We’ll be showing multiple versions of dimmable sunroofs using smart-glass technology,” Piersma said. “Two versions will have dimmable sunroofs that can darken on demand or in conjunction with light sensors.”
The company also will display automatic-dimming windows for the aerospace industry.
Gentex will have a vehicle “buck” simulator at its booth designed for people to sit in and see demos of all of the new technologies in each product category.
Ian Sage, chief engineer of innovation at GHSP, said his company has smart and connected products to display this year, as well as other electronic innovations.
“This is our second year at CES,” he said. “The first year was all about saying, ‘Here’s GHSP.’ It was a lot of current product with a couple thoughts on advanced technology for the interior HMI (human-machine interface) applications,” Sage said.
“This year, it’s all about exploring the ideas of shared mobility and … everything in your home connecting. We think we’re taking a forward look on a few topics.”
GHSP’s new developments to be debuted at CES include smart kitchen technologies — which would allow consumers to “transform their basic kitchen into a mobile-connected, personalized interface” — and similarly, a touchscreen technology that will enable drivers to “customize vehicle feature interaction in a seamless transition.”
Additional GHSP innovations to be featured at CES will include a new line of modular automotive pumps for production scalability and increased power density in vehicle applications; wireless charging stations; and UV-C disinfection products.
Sage said one of the smart kitchen products is a 30-inch, edge-to-edge wall display that controls the microwave, range top, oven temperature and timer, and more.
He described it as “a dead-fronted” display that looks like a black polished wall when not in use but comes to life as a virtual assistant when the user approaches. Users can swipe from screen to screen to see the controls for each appliance.
The wall display will be equipped with UV-C disinfection technology, which also will be available in places such as the crisper drawer.
“The C band of UV light will disinfect surfaces from pathogens from salmonella or E. coli,” Sage said.
GHSP also will display in its booth UV-C disinfection technology for hospital equipment such as keyboards, which GHSP currently is developing for a partner business, UV Angel.
On the touchscreen technology front, GHSP will exhibit a single-occupant travel pod/mobility device with a center console docking station that connects users’ smartphones to UV-C disinfection, wireless charging and a 15.6-inch touchscreen.
Via an app, users can personalize their data settings and transfer them into each travel pod mobility station they would potentially use, whether inside Uber and Lyft vehicles or other forms of transportation.
“The key feature is the docking station for your phone, which is your key,” Sage said. “Through near-field communication, you set your phone down, and it communicates into the system, securing your information, then downloads from the cloud your personalized settings. …
“It’s about continuing your life and the things you want to do while you’re a passenger in this vehicle, (whether) information, entertainment or continuing on with your workday.”
Sage said the timeframe for bringing the company’s CES 2019 innovations to market varies depending on the technology, ranging from one year to several years from now.
Benton Harbor-based appliance maker Whirlpool is the other West Michigan-based business that will attend CES 2019. The company declined to provide a sneak peek of its CES innovations at press time.