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Garmin K2: can a GPS company make your next car's dashboard?

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Garmin K2
Garmin K2

Taking over the entire dashboard of your car might seem like a logical progression from the handheld navigation device — Garmin's longtime staple product — and that's exactly what the so-called K2 intends to do. Featuring a 10-inch center display paired with a 12-inch unit in place of a traditional instrument cluster, the system introduced today at CES is a lot like Cadillac's CUE in principle: it's trying to rid the driver's line of sight of old-school analog gauges that have dominated cars for the better part of the last century.

You can touch it with gloved hands

Besides the expected features of a modern car cockpit like voice recognition, smartphone integration, and Bluetooth, there are a few stand-outs. The K2's center display supports both multitouch and gloved hands (akin to Nokia's Lumia 820 and 920), and the entire thing can be configured through a web portal that the driver accesses from his or her home computer — dozens of settings are probably easier to configure through a website than they are with a fingertip and a fiddly user interface on the road.

Interestingly, the K2 is one of the first products to be announced with TI's next-gen OMAP 5 processor, a competitor to Qualcomm's high-end Snapdragons and Nvidia's Tegra 3 and Tegra 4. You can't simply buy the rig and install it in your car, of course: Garmin's pitching it to automakers, some of which already use the company's technology in production cars (Chrysler and Honda, for example).