By: Andrew Lo, Special to Ignition

February is auto show season in Canada and the Canadian International Auto Show 2018 (CIAS) promises to reveal the latest in technology for cars. I attended the media day reveals where each auto manufacturer presented their latest model cars for the first time in Canada. Differentiating features in smart technology for cars was a highlight again this year. Here are 10 trends in smart technology that come either standard or as options in the newest cars.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

This was the most popular smart technology feature for new cars amongst car manufacturers at CIAS this year. New cars can now come equipped with Apple CarPlay or Andriod Auto as a standard feature. This allows seamless integration of your Apple iPhone or a phone with the Andriod operating system into your car's functionality. As soon as you power up your car, your smart phone pairs with the car's operating system and instantly displays your contacts, navigation and even your currently playing Spotify playlist. This great feature is a preventative measure to handling your phone while driving. By using your smartphone's voice technology like "Hey Siri" or "Hey Google" you can make calls and send and receive text messages while keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.



Wireless Charging Trays

Wireless charging trays allow you to put your phone at a designated location in the car and your phone will wirelessly charge without any cables. It is intuitive to put your phone on a charging surface that you will never forget to keep your phone charged while you drive. The wireless charge pad in this BMW M4 is tucked inside the centre compartment, and also prevents the temptation to handling your phone while driving.

Plug-in Hybrid Drive


Most auto manufacturers are continuing their commitment to electrify cars. A popular feature for 2018 is the plug-in hybrid car. With a push of a button, your car can run off its lithium-ion battery. The plug-in hybrid Kia Niro shown above can go 45 km on a single charge. This is perfect for urban driving and short trips.

WiFi Hot Spots

This is not a new feature but has gained more popularity over the years. Larger SUVs, vans and sedans now have hot spots that can support up to 10 devices. Perfect for passengers who require that second screen for social media while they watch Netflix in the back seat.

Augmented Reality Windshield Display in Full Color


This is the best example of everyday use of augmented reality (AR). Many luxury vehicles have this feature where navigation information, speed, client, and infotainment settings are displayed on the windshield so you never have to look away from the road. AR systems are smart. They display the information just when you need it to minimize distration. For example, detail maps of intersections appear on your windshield display when you are approaching a turn.

Automated Emergency Braking Systems

Ford calls this pre-collision assist. Using cameras and radar, the car detects objects and pedestrians. If you get close, an alert will sound. If you keep moving, then the car automatically pre-charges the brakes and even applies pressure so you avoid a crash or reduce the severity of the collision.

360 Degree Surround View


While rear cameras are very common in cars these days, some auto manufacturers have installed cameras to give panorama view of the front and back and can even stitch together a birds-eye view of the vehicle. It gives a much wider view, helping the driver avoid pedestrians and other objects. Parallel and reverse parking has never been easier.

Large Touch Screens


Cars and trucks that boast tons of connected technology are sporting touch screens as large as 12 inches in diagonal. Shown above is the 2019 Dodge RAM 1500 touch screen. It displays navigation and traffic information very clearly. It supports multi-gesture touch such as pinch to zoom. Everything is touch activated through the screen including climate control, driver assist settings, and surround cameras.

Adaptive Cruise Control and Low-Speed Follow

This is the closest we are to autonomous driving at the moment. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is very helpful for highway driving, make it easier and reducing fatigue while in traffic. Using a radar sensor installed on the front bumper along with a camera mounted on the windshield, the 2018 Honda Accord can maintain a cruise speed, a following distance by automatically adjusting brake and throttle, as well as stop and resume the car during low speed traffic conditions. ACC works in conjunction with the Accord's Lane Keeping Assist function so the car always stays in lane.

Digital Shopping Platforms


Hyundai announced that they are changing the way consumers buy cars, allowing online shopping directly on dealership websites. With Hyundai Express Shopping, you can configure and price a car and add it to the shopping cart. You can schedule a test drive online and even access a portal to review a custom quote. Using your credit card, you can leave a deposit online. Hyundai dealers will have an option to incorporate this digital shopping platform onto their sites come Spring.

Are you shopping for a new car? Start considering some of these conveniences and safety features in the same manner as you would normally purchase any other electronic device. Smart technology has become as equally important as the car's design, performance and fuel economy. In addition, safety features such as automated emergency braking may reduce your insurance costs. When you shop for a new car, make sure you include an insurance quote in your budget as part of your total cost of car ownership.


About Andrew Lo:

President and CEO of, Canada's largest online financial services comparison website

andrew lo kanetix

As President & CEO of , Andrew Lo leads all digital innovation and operations for Kanetix Ltd., Canada's largest digital customer acquisition platform for insurance and financial services.

He is also a Business Strategy Advisor for Ryerson University's DMZ helping to develop digital entrepreneurs and startup companies at the #1 University Incubator in North America and #3 in the world.

Andrew has 25 years of experience as a business, technology and digital leader for FinTech as well as InsurTech companies such as Filogix and D+H, and has developed organizations from startups into industry shaping ventures with over 5,000 employees.