The technology event CES commenced in fine style on January 6, 2016, in Las Vegas. CES 2016 is the opportunity for the world’s electronics developers and leading innovative businesses to showcase the latest gadgets they believe will cause a stir amongst consumers. Some 3,600 companies attended this year for what is the 49th anniversary of the technology show.
CES has a reputation for innovation, and last year at CES 2015 the world was introduced to StoreDot’s mobile charging, which caused the BBC to announce it was like “what feels like a modern-day technological miracle.” We were also introduced to wearable technology and increasingly smaller PCs. In a press release, CES called this year’s event “Next Generation of Innovation Debuts,” and over a busy few days there have been some real surprises.
Here’s a selection of the best moments:
The Oculus Rift
This virtual reality device Oculus Rift is being touted as a potential landmark moment in video game history. Facebook bought out the company and the device has gained steady momentum ever since. At CES it prompted huge queues, and even the $600 price tag hasn’t turned eager punters from making preorders.
It’s not the only virtual reality headset on the way. Legendary developer Valve (responsible for Half-Life 2 and the PC gaming Steam phenomenon) have one in development called the HTC Vive, and Sony has one underway for its PlayStation console. The latter wants to remove controllers from gaming, and is consequently developing a gesture-based headset called SoftKinetic.
There were 33 drones in evidence at this year’s show, and the one which dominated the news is an enormous, pilotless drone which is able to transport humans.
The Chinese company Ehang showed off the Ehang 184 to much amazement. It resembles a small helicopter but it’s powered by electricity and can, impressively, be fully charged in only two hours. Furthermore, it can carry a load of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds). Users merely set a flight plan and tell it to “take off” or “land,” potentially making those trips to the local supermarket for groceries all the more interesting. The downside is one will cost some $300,000.
Other drones included the Disco, designed by the company Parrot, which looks like a stealth aircraft. Other businesses that have pitched their ideas for drones in the hope this concept will take off with consumers included Hexo+, Fleye, Disco, and Mota, while WowWee showcased the Rev Air, a drone which is chased by a smartphone-controlled car. Others are designed to follow their owners around filming them, in some sort of benign, narcissistic version of Orwell’s nightmarish Big Brother vision.
Mcor Desktop 3D Printer
Desktop 3D printers have been touted as the next big thing for going on five years, but the technology’s not advanced to the stage where it’s readily affordable for most consumers. Mcor, however, showcased a the Mcor ARKe 3D printer which the company states is suitable for offices and classrooms.
The Mcor 3D printer creates colour models with a resolution of 4,800 by 2,400 dots per inch—this is a greater detail than many traditional inkjet printers. It uses a mixture of paper, glue, and razors to print, and is likely to go on sale at around $6,000.
Samsung’s Smart Fridge
Samsung’s fridge has a giant touchscreen on the front of it, which can be pretty handy if you enjoy hanging out with your fridge. The screen is 21.5 inches (vertically), and it has been classed as a Family Hub refrigerator.
Other than this there isn’t much other information available, but it would certainly be a dream addition to any cooking fan’s kitchen as how to videos and cooking apps can run as you prepare food.
There were plenty of robots at the show, but Alpha 2 courted the most attention and affection. Created by UBTECH, this device dances, performs yoga, and, in a surreal twist, has the ability to translate languages. It’s been designed as a companion for families, and features an intelligent voice system, voice chatting capabilities, simultaneous interpretation, voice search, and voice relay. It also receives verbal directions and provides verbal reminders.
In addition, it has built-in infrared, ultrasonic, touch, gesture, and acceleration sensors. When combined with 20 joints for flexibility, the Alpha 2 is being touted as a tutor, nurse, housekeeper, PA, home guard, weatherman, storyteller, yogi, entertainer, and interpreter … all-in-one!
Samsung Smart Washing Machine
Most of us have no doubt experienced the crushing realisation you’ve set the washing machine off and forgotten to include the final pair of socks. Thanks to Samsung, this problem could become a thing of the past. The Marathon Laundry machine customises wash cycles, and users can switch from washer to dryer in an instant, as well as possessing a handy door you can open to add extra garments.
The GoSun stove is an e-grill which fries, roasts, and bakes. The difference is it’s powered by an electric heater or solar panel.
It works through an evacuated glass tube, and according to the company, “is a near perfect insulator, allowing one to solar cook in even the most challenging conditions. By effectively capturing light from a broad range of angles, the GoSun does not require frequent readjustment, making it the lowest maintenance fuel free cooking device yet.”
GoSun stoves are available from around $280 and there are four models to choose from, should you want to pursue outdoor cooking whether it’s raining or you’re bathed in sunshine.
Netflix Goes Global
Streaming service behemoth Netflix announced its service has gone live almost all the way around the world, having previously been restricted to primarily America and Europe. It’s now available in some 130 countries, and there are plans to expand into China. The company’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, made the announcement at a keynote speech during the show.
Volkswagen Fights Back
After what can only be described as a catastrophic 2015, Volkswagen has attempted to fight back at CES 2016. The Financial Times described its efforts: “VW turns to hippy past as it seeks to shake off scandal.” This observation is based on its new electric concept car, which is reminiscent of the company’s iconic 1960s van.
It’s called the Budd-e and includes bespoke software which allows it to be controlled by voice recognition and hand gestures; it can also travel 233 miles per charge. Volkawagen’s head of passenger cars, Herbert Diess, once again apologised for the emissions scandal, and hopes this car will redress poor sales and the company’s current image problems.
LG’s Flexible Screen
LG showcased serious innovation with a screen which can be rolled up, scrunched, and thrown around with no serious consequences. LG told the BBC it would be ideal for stores in need of adaptive displays as the screens can be rolled up and placed wherever you want. However, if the screen is folded flat, it becomes damaged, so the BBC pointed out this ruins any hopes of the much sought after interactive newspaper.
Finally, we have one of the quirkier products with Sensorwake, an olfactory alarm clock which is designed to wake you up with pleasant smells. So far the range includes peppermint, the seaside, chocolate, lush jungle, croissant, and espresso. The company has even provided a “backup alarm” in the event you have a bad cold—an emergency sound alarm will wake you up “after three minutes of uninterrupted diffusion.”
If this sounds like a product you need in your life, you can preorder it for $89.