What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi prototype CES

When they merge into the mainstream, autonomous cars will need to offer ways to keep the passenger formerly in charge of driving entertained. An in-flight entertainment-like interface doesn’t sound very appealing, so Audi has a much better idea. It wants to turn the cabin into a full-fledged entertainment space, and it will showcase its vision by unveiling two separate technologies at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Called Audi immersive in-car entertainment, the on-the-go movie theater wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago. It leverages the increasingly high level of connectivity in both cars and mobile devices to let the occupants watch their favorite movie or stream content from the internet. At CES, the technology will be packed into one of the brand’s luxury sedans.

How? We don’t know yet. We’ll need to wait until CES opens its doors to find out, but we’re expecting big (and cool) things. Audi calls this technology the next-generation drive-in movie theater; we hope it involves a modern version of the drive-in movie snack tray popular in the 1950s. It’s interesting to note that, because the car needs to be stopped for the feature to work, the immersive in-car entertainment doesn’t depend on future leaps in driverless car technology. It may be closer to production than we think.

Users enjoy the second part of Audi’s novel entertainment space while the car is moving. Again, details are few and far between because the firm wants to retain an element of surprise, but the brand refers to it as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.

This technology likely ties into the 25th-hour project that Audi has been working on for over a year. If autonomy in cars gives drivers more free time, what is the best way to spend it? The 25th-hour project aims to define the premium mobility of the future, and we speculate that what we’ll see in CES will give us at least part of the definition.

Audi will release additional details about the technologies it is bringing to CES in the coming weeks, and we’ll see them in person when the show opens its doors on January 8.

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