With technology improving every year, it seems that the only way to keep up with the latest innovations is to attend trade shows and conventions. After attending the SEMA and CES events, we were able to see some of the newest products, as well as the latest trends in the 12-volt market. The most recent shows showcased the fact that the audio industry's technology is surpassing some OEM applications. In some cases, the A/V aftermarket world is getting together with the OEM manufacturers to produce decent sounding systems, which can be easily upgraded by the owner.

Since today's technology is ever-changing, the "cool factor" is always increasing. The one thing that will remain constant during these changing times is our "gotta have it" mentality. Like a moth to the flame, we're attracted to the latest pocket gadget, which is guaranteed to make our life more interesting, if not easier as well. Car manufactures realize this, and are starting to offer things like integrated solutions for your cell phone and MP3 players. The aftermarket is following suit with integration options for the new OEM radios. They are now offering everything from Bluetooth technology, which seems to be one of the biggest options that most of the manufactures are trying to incorporate, to the iPod integration that has become increasingly necessary in today's market.

The aftermarket is constantly providing solutions for these "gotta have it" needs. CES (Consumer Electronic Show) 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada, showed us quite a few technology leaders with menu-based transmitters, spread spectrum technology, Bluetooth integration, and modular applications, just to name a few. The original equipment manufacturers are working hard to offer the creature comforts that we desire, such as remote start, auto window closure solutions, and navigation and video options. To stay ahead of the game, the aftermarket has to stay on the cutting edge while keeping the factory advancements at bay.

Manufacturers are now bringing the high end to the people with moderately priced, but exceptional-sounding offerings in speakers and amplifiers. While the high end is still available for those who desire the best, the entry level is no longer seen as second rate equipment. Serious sound and reliable power are in, and the prices are right where you want them. For the power-hungry and bass-thirsty, many manufacturers are returning to the hey-day of monster power by offering subs that only the serious can appreciate. They are also pushing amplifiers that occupy very little space. With both ends of the spectrum receiving ample attention, it just leads us to wonder what next year has in store for the consumer.

Over the years, manufacturers listened to the consumers, as most car owners grew weary of sacrificing trunk space. Manufacturers developed shallow-mount speakers that are perfect for the small spaces commonly found in today's interior designs. These shallow mounts are now packing some big power in a very small package. Other manufactures, like Pioneer, have developed woofers that are compact and use several magnets to put out some impressive bass for your classic ride.

Sirius satellite radio has also completely changed the audio game. Now, you can listen to your favorite type of music from coast to coast, without having to hear commercials or change the station. If your radio is not equipped with a built-in receiver, you can add a receiver on the aftermarket as companies are releasing several different types of universal adapters. XM satellite radio has also developed a portable system, which allows you to take your music anywhere you like, from your home, the car, or to the office.