Users may no longer depend on Garmin's dedicated GPS devices now that smartphones have built-in navigation software, but that doesn't mean the company is abandoning the automotive space. In fact, Garmin is looking to make an even bigger impact on your dashboard with the debut of its new K2 infotainment platform.
Garmin drew influence for the new system from its existing marine and avionics system, and says that it is seeking to turn the standard auto dashboard into a digital cockpit. The platform includes a large 10-inch touch screen, digital and reconfigurable 12-inch instrument cluster situated behind the steering wheel, voice control, infrared sensors similar to those found in Cadillac's CUE system and smartphone integration.
Drawing its power from TI's ARM Cortex A-15 processor, K2 is capable of rendering 3D cities and buildings in real-time when the navigation feature is active. The navigation function also provides users with real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, the location of nearby traffic cameras and parking conditions.
Garmin says the system is so advanced that it will automatically located the nearest gas station when it detects your vehicle is low on fuel and display directions to the station on the 10-inch display. A handy to-do list feature lets users create location-based reminders for things such as a grocery lists that K2 will automatically pull up when you are near a grocery store.
Beyond the usual speedometer and tachometer, K2's 12-inch instrument cluster display provides users with navigation, phone, audio and vehicle data. If you receive and email or text while your phone is connected to the system, for example, Garmin says its K2 will read you the message and allow you to dictate a response. Ford's Sync system offers a similar feature, so this isn't exactly ground breaking stuff, but will still prove useful for many drivers.
Like Cadillac's CUE system, K2's 10-inch touch screen display gives drivers basic navigation, audio and other information. Draw your hand close the the screen, however, and its built-in infrared sensors will detect your movement and instantly provide you with more detailed information such as a calendar and messaging center, which will be accessible when the car is stationary.
One of K2's more intriguing features is its planed passenger detection system. This function, Garmin says, will allow K2 to determine when a front seat passenger is attempting to use the touch screen and offer them more advanced functionality including Web and social media access.
Garmin's OEM partners include BMW, Honda, Chrysler and Toyota, although the company isn't saying which automakers are working with K2 yet. Stay tuned for our complete hands-on with K2 live from CES 2013.