This year’s International CES show opening today in Las Vegas, the world’s largest consumer technology trade show, is highlighting technology that brings internet access and connectivity into the car, while also introducing features that aim to combat distracted driving, according to

“Automakers and suppliers will bring the internet into cars in an effort to deliver services people are accustomed to getting on their smartphones and computers,” said the buyer’s guide’s senior technology editor Doug Newcomb. “There are many integration, compatibility and driver distraction issues that will need to be resolved, but we will start to see these technologies in cars in the very near future.”

Newcomb identified four car technology trends at the International show.

In-car internet: While internet capabilities were first available in cars a few years ago, the trend is currently picking up speed via a wide range of new applications, including onboard wi-fi and using a connected smartphone to provide internet access.

Smartphone integration: This trend has been gaining momentum, but won’t gain a strong foothold until automakers sort out the myriad of competing standards, such as Nokia’s Terminal Mode and Apple’s iPod Out, to name two. Ford, on the other hand, has decided to move ahead with its own cloud-connected platform via its Sync and MyFord Touch products (the latter criticised by Consumer Reports this week which described it as a “complicated distraction while driving [which] first-time users might find it impossible to comprehend”).

Smartphone apps: While many cars offer navigation, entertainment and other real-time entertainment now, these features will migrate from on-board and in-dash to off-board and over-the-air, all supplied through smartphone applications.

Telematics: Telematics services, such as GM’s OnStar, will be offered by increasing numbers of automakers. These services will evolve from simple safety-oriented system to those that offer more infotainment and convenience features.

“Chrysler, Hyundai and Toyota are using CES for major automotive technology premiers this year, and OnStar has already used CES to announce that it is expanding beyond the GM portfolio,” Edmunds said. “The automakers recognise that technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, and aim to capitalise on that fact.”