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New Directions For Aftermarket Car Electronics

Aftermarket car electronics suppliers will strike out in multiple new directions at International CES.

Dealers will find some of the first Bluetooth-equipped amplifiers to tap automotive niches such as power-sports vehicles and classic cars. Companies will expand their selection of products for power-sports vehicles such as ATVs and motorcycles. Multiple suppliers will expand their selection of marine audio products. And products that decode high-resolution audio files — and play them back through high-resolution DACs — will appear for the first time.

The developments could open up new demand for aftermarket entertainment products, always a welcome development.

Another type of aftermarket-expanding technology, a smartphone-based keyless-entry system, will also debut from Toronto-based Keyfree Technologies at North Hall booth 3325. The company’s product, which requires professional installation, is targeted to car dealers and retailers.

The Keyfree system consists of an under-dash black box that makes a Bluetooth connection to a digital key stored on a smartphone. The car unlocks as soon as the phone is within range. Drivers can then start the car via a push-to-start button installed in the vehicle as part of the Keyfree system. Via cellular, the Keyfree app also controls add-on remote-start systems, tracks a car’s location, and displays usage history and vehicle diagnostics.
The system is said to be compatible with 95 percent of vehicles dating back to 1996.

For now, an iOS app is available, but Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry apps are in the works.

Users can share a digital key through the app with friends and family with customizable restrictions. Keys can also be revoked instantly.

Pricing was unavailable.

Other examples of an evolving market will include the expansion by Boss Audio of its power-sports products with 25 new models for ATVs, boats, and motorcycles. At least three other suppliers, including Rockford Fosgate, will expand their focus on the marine market, and at least one more will expand its selection.

At least three suppliers will turn to Bluetooth-equipped amplifiers not only to tap the power-sports market but also to add smartphone sources to the factory systems of classic cars and add Bluetooth to factory and aftermarket sound systems. One of the companies is Massive Audio.

In high-resolution audio developments, Audison will show high-resolution audio processors/DACs that can be integrated into aftermarket and OEM sound systems. And expect an announcement from another autosound supplier.

It’s a far cry from the days when we got excited about CD players breaking the $500 price point and RDS expanding to more head units.