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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Those deals are among the many unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show. That's the huge technology spectacle that kicks off today in Las Vegas. NPR's Laura Sydell is there, and she's been taking a close look at consumer electronics that are being developed for cars.

LAURA SYDELL: I'm standing in the middle of an almost 5,000-square-foot hall. Every inch is dedicated to displays of technology for the car. Right in the center is a 1959 black Cadillac Eldorado with ruby-red leather interior. A car from a simpler time, when having an AM radio was about as high-tech as in-vehicle technology got. The vintage Caddy is surrounded by technology that can transform it into a 21st century vehicle.

In a year in which car sales are in the doldrums, these companies are hoping that even if you won't buy a new car, maybe you will upgrade the one you have.

Mr. RICH COE (Manager of Research and Development, Eclipse): With used cars, the first areas that people refurb the cars to is wheels, tires, and audio system.

SYDELL: I'm talking with Rich Coe, who does research and development for Eclipse. They make a device that can be added to the dashboard of your car. It will give you a GPS system, a DVD player that connects with screens in the rear seat, an iPod connection, radio, CD, all for around a thousand dollars. All through the hall are devices that range from a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars that can upgrade your car. There are digital television receivers...

Unidentified Man: This is the Exonic EXD-TV100 digital TV tuner with antenna designed for mobile applications.

SYDELL: There are speaker systems that will rival your home stereo.

Unidentified Man: This is the Boss Audio Systems OHC63 full-range speaker with die-cast aluminum frame.

SYDELL: There are safety features.

Unidentified Man: This is our top of the line crimestopper collision avoidance system.

SYDELL: There's a night vision camera...

Unidentified Man: We're NAV-TV. We put FLIR PathFindIR thermal imaging cameras into your car, making night driving safer.

SYDELL: But this is just the beginning for the merger of consumer electronics and the automobile. Back at the Eclipse booth, Rich Coe explains where it's all headed.

Mr. COE: I'm going to give you a scenario. What's the first thing you do when you get home? Most people go to their computer and do their emails. You, in the future, may be able to get into your car and say, hi, it's me. Your voice, being as unique as your fingerprint, allows you to access the system.

Boot the house. Now you have your car talking to your home. All you have to do is say, what's the security status for the day? Nobody broke in. What's the temperature? It's 55 degrees. Please raise it to 70 degrees. Read my email. All your emails are read to you in the car, you don't have to access the computer when you get home.

Since you have navigation in the car, the system in your house knows where you are. As you turn the corner to come up the street, part of your programming of your system to have it your way, you see your lights turn on, and the garage door opens for you.

SYDELL: How far away are we from a future like that?

Mr. COE: Without saying next year and then next year, next year, within the next five years you're going to see it start popping.

SYDELL: And what's in the way?

Mr. COE: It can be done now. It's a matter of somebody taking the risk of investment.

SYDELL: Could it be slowed down also by the economy at this point?

Mr. COE: The economy is obviously slowing everything down, obviously.

SYDELL: Reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, this is Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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