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The Ride: the cars of the future want to do more than just drive you around

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Every year at the start of January,  thousands of visitors descend on Las Vegas to take in the latest and greatest in high tech. That's when CES or, as most of us know it, the Consumer Electronics Show, takes place.

Cars have stolen the spotlight in recent years with autonomous models and other high-tech bells and whistles like voice commands and iPhone connectivity. But this week, the cars on display go beyond the self-driving kinds. 

There are cars that can monitor your health. Cars that aim to be an extension of your living room. Cars that want to be your best friend. Almost.

Korean auto maker, Hyundai, boldly went where auto makers have never gone before with various concepts, including its Mobility Vision. The autonomous car concept docks to a home through a portal, becoming an extension of the house. It’s designed to “blur the line between mobility and living and working space, integrating the car into the daily live of users,” Hyundai says.

Further blurring the lines of a car’s traditional role, Hyundai’s Health + Mobility concept demonstrates how biometric sensors can relieve driver stress. Hyundai’s so-called health-conscious vehicle monitors posture, respiratory rate, heart rate, eye movements and facial features to track a driver’s alertness and emotional state, and vary them with health-enhancing “mood bursts.” If a driver is losing concentration, for example, the car could could make the seat more upright. If the driver is stressed, the car could send a eucalyptus scent wafting through the cabin to help with relaxation. 

Japanese car maker, Toyota, is also focusing on the relationship drivers have with their cars. The Concept-i it introduced at CES includes an on-board assistant named Yui, which monitor’s the driver’s mood and behavior using in-car biometrics, including pulse rate, breathing rate and body temperature, and suggests ways to alleviate stress behind the wheel.

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