Every year, Las Vegas hosts the Consumer Technology Association’s week-long Consumer Electronics Show. As well as giving manufacturers and developers the chance to show off their wares, this annual jamboree provides the public with their first glimpse of exciting and emerging technologies and innovations. Identifying trends or breakthrough products at CES highlights how technology might impact on our lives in future – and 2018’s show was no exception.
From cars to VR, manufacturers regard CES as the ultimate shop window for unveiling new products. These were some of the more significant launches:
- Television sets have come a long way since the heavy cathode ray models of yesteryear. LG unveiled a 65-inch 4K TV that can be physically rolled up, making it easy to reposition. Rollable screens could also slash the amount of non-recyclable polystyrene used to package flat screen TVs for transit.
- Another 65-inch screen was debuted at CES by a rather less expected brand – Nvidia. The gaming specialist’s Big Format Gaming Display screen is 4K with HRD support. Nvidia’s screens will be manufactured in association with Acer, Asus and HP, with obvious appeal to hardcore gamers.
- A third TV-related announcement came from Samsung, who declared they will be introducing an 8K TV later this year. In other Samsung news, an exclusive closed-door audience was able to view the foldable Galaxy X smartphone for the first time, while the new range-topping S9 phone wasn’t ready on time, but will be launched this month.
- One phone brand that’s fallen from favour in recent years is the BlackBerry. However, new owners TCL declared at CES that new BlackBerry phones will be coming out later in the year. The BlackBerry Motion will also be launched in America, after impressing critics in the UK with its superb battery life and 5.5-inch 1080p display.
- If CES launches are to be believed, Amazon’s Alexa platform is becoming the dominant force in virtual assistants. Alexa popped up in various launches, from audio specialist Polk’s wireless sound bar to Optoma’s flagship 4K projector. Not to be outdone, arch-rival Google is embedding its Assistant into third-party devices, too.
The future trends
Because it hosts many product launches and demonstrations of new technology, the real virtue of CES is the glimpse it provides into our future lives. Like an interactive week-long episode of Tomorrow’s World, it offers tantalising hints about how our lives might be changed by technology in the years ahead:
- The inevitable demise of tower computers moved a stage closer, with Asus revealing its first small-form PC. Resembling a black Mac Mini, the Chromebox 3 is a Chrome-powered computer capable of 4K video streaming.
- As desktop computers shrink, smartphone screens expand. Sony’s debut of the XA2 Ultra (with a six-inch screen) shows how the boundaries between phones and tablets continue to blur. Even budget brand Alcatel launched a phone with an 18:9 display.
- Full mobile integration with vehicles also took a great leap forwards, as Google revealed Android Auto integration for its Assistant chatbot. Voice commands will now be enough to access directions, play music and receive appointment reminders.
- Another Google-owned product is Nest, whose smart thermostats are being heavily advertised on TV at present. Nest’s latest innovation is a smart lock – a timely arrival, considering smart home security is expected to become big business in 2018.
- VR has been the next big thing for a long time now. HTC are attempting to kick-start this stagnant market by launching a wireless version of their Vive Pro headset, which also features a 2880×1660 OLED display that far surpasses its predecessor.
- Another long-awaited technology is wireless charging. Its arrival into the mainstream was indicated at CES by its inclusion in a new watch – specifically, Casio’s latest G-Shock device. The GPR B-1000 can also be charged by the sun’s rays.
- The future of cryptocurrency is highly uncertain, so advocates of blockchain payments were delighted to see Kodak launching KodakCoins for photographers. Dedicated web crawlers will identify unlicensed image use, recouping royalty fees.
- Finally, anyone who still dreams of floating to work should keep an eye on Segway. Their prototype Loomo is part-hoverboard, part-pet, combining a gyroscopically stabilised axle with a screen displaying what can only be described as a sad face…