As the Consumer Electronics Show prepares to kick off in Las Vegas, Mirror Online take a look at what we’re most looking forward to seeing
Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas provides an opportunity to check out the latest innovations from technology firms around the world. But with so many whizzy gadgets in one place, it can be hard to root out the really useful and important stuff.
So to help narrow things down, we’ve identified five things we’d really like to see, based on the key trends of this year’s show – including virtual reality, connected cars, smart homes, wearable technology and robotics.
A virtual reality headset that is ready for the mainstream
From the Nintendo Virtual Boy headset to the Virtuality arcade pod, the promise of virtual reality has always been enormous. The hope is that, one day, people will be able to put on a headset and feel like they have truly been transported to another dimension.
However, the hardware and graphics technology have never been good enough to deliver on this vision. Although a true enthusiast might be able to enjoy exploring the roughly-built digital landscape, the chasm between that crude digital experience and the subtlety of real life has always been too great for most people
But that could be about to change. Over the past couple of years, a number of virtual reality headsets have been in development, with input from some of the world’s experts in immersive gaming and online social interaction, and 2016 is the year that the first of these devices will go on sale to the general public.
Leading the charge is Oculus Rift – the headset that started the current virtual reality gold rush when it raised $2.5 million in a Kickstarter campaign, and went on to be bought by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. The first consumer version of the Rift is due to go on sale in the first quarter of 2016.
Also in the running are HTC’s Vive headset, a collaboration with gaming platform Steam, and Sony’s PlayStation VR, which has the advantage that it could be sold as an accessory with the PlayStation console – not forgetting Samsung’s Gear VR, which is already on the market.
Each of these devices will have their own selling points – with some focusing more on gaming and others on other immersive experiences like films and digital entertainment. But what we really want to see is a headset that is ready for market, and finally able to deliver on the dream of true virtual reality in your own home.
A wearable device that looks good and does what you need it to do
Wearable technology exploded last year – particularly after the launch of the Apple Watch in April – and wearable fitness trackers like Fitbit continue to grow in popularity. But the vast majority of the tech out there is still aimed and men and, for the most part, ugly as hell.
Attempts have been made by watch makers and fashion designers to improve the appearance of wearable devices, but fashion and technology are not traditional bedfellows, and these devices often end up looking nerdy, or having all the useful tech taken out of them to make them look nice.
Fitbit Charge, ChargeHR & Surge
The style problem needs to be solved – particularly if the industry wants women to start taking wearable tech seriously. And with wearables now catering for everyone from babies to pets, the devices themselves have to be feature-rich and reliable.
So we’d like to see a wearable device that doesn’t just appeal to geeks or fitness fanatics, but to people who can see the benefits of monitoring their activity or being alerted to upcoming appointments on their wrist, and also want a stylish accessory that they can enjoy wearing.
Bigger, brighter TVs that dazzle you with colour
TVs are always a major feature of CES. Last year it was all about 4K TVs – which have an even higher resolution than Full HD – with companies such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Sony all dramatically expanding their ranges of TVs capable of showing â€˜Ultra HDâ€™ content
This year, word is that it will be all about HDR (High Dynamic Range), which as anyone who is into photography will know means there is a strong contrast between the bright parts and the dark parts of the image.
4K TV was a major theme of CES 2015
When it comes to video, HDR is about making the bright pixels on the screen even brighter, to include more shades of colour and more accurately represent scenes from outdoors.
There were several prototype HDR TVs on display at last year’s show, but since then a coalition of the leading players known as the UHD Alliance has revealed a new specification, meaning that many more TV makers will be branding thir TVs “UHD”.
A driverless car than can’t be hacked
We’ve heard loads about driverless cars over the last couple of years, with Google running a live pilot of its vehicles in California, and car brands like Ford, Audi and Tesla all climbing on the bandwagon – not to mention the British government testing its own prototypes on UK roads.
The UK is testing its own driverless cars
We’re probably still some way off from these amazing vehicles going on sale, but one of the biggest barriers to adoption is still the concern that their connection to the internet makes them susceptible to hacking and hijacking.
Indeed, there have been a number of demonstrations where security researchers were able to take remote control of the cars and drive them off the road, or use GPS jamming to block the signals that transmit vital positioning and location information to the driverless car.
At CES, we would therefore like to driverless car prototypes that contain the technology to defend against these kinds of threats – making them a much more viable proposition for public use.
Connected appliances that brings the smart home to life
Smart home technology is predicted to be a massive area of growth for technology companies over the next five years, but the concept is yet to yet to catch on with consumers. In a recent survey of Europeans, over a third said they failed to see many or any benefits in smart home products.
This is not so much a technological problem as an issue of education. No one really knows what a smart home is or why they should have one, and none of the companies making these products are doing a very good job of explaining it.
Philips lets you control your lighting from an app
However, there are a few things that are starting to whet people’s appetites – from the Smarter coffee machine that makes lets you grind beans and brew your coffee while lying in bed, to the Sonos multi-room speaker system that lets you stream music to any room in your house over WiFi.
Essentially, we need more products like this, that are going to bring the concept of the smart home to life for people. While they may not want to buy into the idea of wiring up their whole house, they may be tempted by a washing machine that saves them money by automatically switching on when electricity tariffs are low.