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Three new tech concepts you might actually use from CES 2014

The massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES), hosted annually in Las Vegas, showcases the latest discoveries and innovations, including audiovisual, gaming, smartphones, computing, household appliances…

An 85-inch bendable Ultra HD LED television, unveiled at the CES 2014, might be standard in living rooms one day. EPA/Yonhap South Korea Out

The massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES), hosted annually in Las Vegas, showcases the latest discoveries and innovations, including audiovisual, gaming, smartphones, computing, household appliances and in-car technologies.

While we see plenty of new hardware, software and gadgets which definitely have the “wow!” factor (such as a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush) as well as the odd celebrity low point, we should focus on the bits and pieces which could actually be useful – and potentially change our lives for the better.

So here are my top three most practical themes from CES 2014 which, in my opinion, could be easily incorporated into daily life.

Ultra high definition, curved, glasses-free 3D screens

Just as most people start to fully embrace the beauty of high definition contents, the Ultra HD (4K) screens already promise four times the resolution of existing 1080p full HD screens.

There is a strong push from leading companies such as Samsung and LG for technologies, such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), to deliver next generation screens that suit human vision better. Features of these screens include a curved, bendable design, richer colour, more dynamic range of contrast and a more natural 3D depth vision without glasses.

The world’s first curved television – the LG Curved Ultra 108-inch HD TV – guarded by LG employees after being unveiled at CES 2014. EPA/Michael Nelson

To help usher these screens into a new era of living room, new cameras and content providers (such as Netflix) will start the race to support the 4K resolutions. Next-gen gaming consoles such as PlayStation 4 are already 4K compliant.

The biggest question, though, is how would content be distributed? Blu-ray disc is no longer seen as a future-proof media to hold ultra HD audio visual contents.

(Perhaps the keynote by networking company Cisco later in the show will address streaming 4K contents over the internet, which means new services for renting and purchasing 4K videos.)

Refresh rate will continue to be a key requirement for comfortable viewing, especially for 3D viewing. High frame rate 3D has been used in some cinemas to show the latest blockbuster movie The Hobbit in 48 frames per second (rather than the usual 24 frames per second), which, according to director Peter Jackson, delivers a better 3D experience.

A higher frame rate also shows how future cinematic experience will feel closer to home theatre, but some reviews found the experience a little too real, like “watching a daytime TV show”.

Ultra realistic, near-lifelike visual experiences will continue to push technology, and future audio speakers, ranging from sound bars, headphones and multi-speaker systems will have to keep up by delivering equally high-definition audio contents.

Bluetooth 4.0 and AptX codecs are designed to deliver better quality audio over wireless.

Wearable tech fashion from head to toe

Tim Alessi from LG Home Entertainment introduces Lifeband Touch. EPA/Michael Nelson

An infographic by Mashable portrays how Google Glass, smart watches (or wristbands) and smartshoes can form fashionable technologies. When connected to smartphones, they will allow us to harness the power of embedded computers using natural interactions such as speech, gestures and action recorders.

These wearable gadgets have the capability to record our actions and activities to better understand our characteristics, profile and preferences to provide smarter services.

CES 2014 also unveils Netatmo’s sun tracking bracelet that helps users to track their UV exposure.

To support real-time monitoring and processing of information, many gadgets will leverage from the computing power of smartphones which are equipped with better processors, evidenced by the increasing push for 64-bit mobile processing units by Intel and NVidia.

In addition to these wearable gadgets, there is also Withing’s Aura Smart Sleeping System for analysing body activity and records information including noise, room temperature and light level to optimise a room’s lighting and sound that helps people get a good nights' rest.

Pervasive technologies that help with daily needs are attractive, but what’s overkill? For example, a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush to help parents monitor children’s dental health is probably not going to be awfully useful.

Driverless cars – well, almost

Cars can already be connected to smartphones, enabling drivers to use speech to control features like GPS and streaming music. Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant Siri helped revolutionise natural interaction and will soon work with new cars.

This year CES 2014’s keynotes feature Audi’s chairman Rupert Stadler. Audi will provide a large dedicated floorspace to showcase their future of driving, with driver assistance systems ranging from adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping assistance and automated steering, making cars nearly autonomous.

Manufacturers are committed to follow regulators in enabling gradual advances, as the key objective is to bring as many benefits as possible, such as helping to prevent road accidents, and more comfortable and safe driving experience.

Drivers remain in control, while built-in sensors, cameras and radars enable the car to take over much of the actual driving task.

What do these mean to us for now?

CES 2014 brings the emphasis to natural computing. It is now assumed that technology will become pervasive, wearable fashion and embedded in most of daily activities. People will embrace new gadgets that can help to make life easier, and bring imagination and creativity to reality.

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20 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    And yet people are still starving here and there around the world, America supposedly the richest country has millions of working poor, Syrians are killing each other in the thousands - but wow a new TV and a gadget to help me sleep at night.

    Thank goodness for priorities.

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    1. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      It's our political and financial systems that are creating inequality, not the manufacture of shiny new toys.

      If you look at the change in China's GINI coefficient, and the number of people lifted out of poverty over the last 30 years, the manufacture of phones, tablets, TVs, etc has had a positive impact, not a negative one. All you have to do is look at the changes in Japan since the 1950s to see where they're headed. Japanese goods used to be considered cheap rubbish, and now the quality rivals the best European nations.

      What's going on in countries like Syria and South Sudan is besides the point. Should we stop technological development because somebody, somewhere is at war again? With the number of war free years we've had, we wouldn't have developed the technology of the dark ages, let alone the renaissance or industrial era.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I was under the impression that although there have been huge increases in production in places like China, it has created a large population of poorly paid workers with minimal working standards.

      The poor are factory fodder for the West.

      Sure the middle and wealthy classes are laughing their way to a bank account, but the "lower" classes are not laughing. It may improve of course.

      Has there ever been war free years?

      Isn't Japan in deep financial trouble?

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    3. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Inequality in China has been going down, and their GINI coefficient is now apparently the same as the USA (where inequality is going up).

      While many would consider the poor to be factory fodder for the west, their wealth is typically substantially more than their agrarian country-men. Not that I'd want to live or work there, but their wealth is improving because of manufacturing moving there. Not the other way around.

      And yes, their middle and upper classes are definitely improving their wealth at a faster rate. But can you name a country where the rich aren't getting richer? The difference being, many of the Chinese poor are getting richer too.

      I don't know about war free years. I suspect there may have been a couple in the last 2000 years. But probably no more than half a dozen or so.

      As for Japan's deep financial trouble? How many countries aren't currently in financial trouble?

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      My point is that do we need a better TV, do we need a gadget to let us know when the bedroom is at it's optimum for sleeping - are we that stupid?

      Do we need 150 apps on our phones, and so on.

      Leaps in technology are one thing, incremental improvements for the sake of crass commercialism are another.

      Can we really enjoy all the bounty of a wonderful life in the West, and even in upper class China for that matter, if there is so much shit going on around us.

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    5. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, I get your point and your questions are definitely valid.

      I think the question of the 'wonderful life in the West' is especially interesting. The "Western" way of life has been predicated on the belief in unlimited growth (in population, energy and money). By definition, that's totally unsustainable.

      The way we've structured our societies, people won't get food or shelter unless they have money. How strictly that should be applied is very dependent on your political views. Creating…

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    6. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Self-driving cars "work" in a limited capacity. For commercial use these things are still a while away.

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    7. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I don't understand why folks, such as yourself with views like this, appear on articles like this. What do you hope to gain/achieve with this argument? Or is it just guilt trips for no apparent reason other than your own amusement and, maybe, superiority?

      It's always confused me. Never understood it.

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    8. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "it has created a large population of poorly paid workers with minimal working standards."

      They have work. You'd be surprised at the amount who are grateful for it. It's that or no work in a considerably worse position.

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    9. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yep bet they are grateful.....as we are for the products they produce.
      Is it called slave labor these days...........no it's called "be grateful and shut the f up".

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    10. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "Be grateful and shut the f up". Yep. Nailed it. That's what everyone is saying....

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    11. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      There is a substantial connection between technology and war.
      But ultimately technology and all labour saving devices are driven by a high value being placed upon labour, be it in factories, or on battlefields.
      Slave societies always fail, which makes one wonder why such as Abbott seek to return to the slave society typical of Imperial Rome?
      Are such conservatives so completely ignorant of technology?
      No Science Minister and all that.
      How have conservatives survived the the dark ages, the renaissance and the industrial era?

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    12. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Never happened at all, Stephen, and Tony's real name is "Caligula".

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  2. Abhishek Sharma

    logged in via Twitter

    This article is really wonderful. I must say CSE has most important part in our life. As I am a software engineer I proud to be a part of most growing industry that is IT.
    http://www.abhisharma.co.in

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  3. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    Where there any presentations regarding dealing with sustainability issues of these new technologies - such as the much greater embodied energy and CO2 emissions of larger screens, and issues of excessive standby power usage?

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    1. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      I don't know if there were any presentations on it.

      But to create a curved screen you need to use OLED technology. OLED TVs are more efficient than LED TVs, which are much more efficient than LCD TVs, which are more efficient than plasma TVs.

      It's another step in the right direction.

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    2. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Thanks Craig - I know and welcome this development with the better OLEDs about 40 to 50% more energy efficient.

      But something that is disconcerting to those of us concerned with sustainability is the trend to supersizing.

      Even if OLED is twice as energy efficient as LED, by doubling the dimensions of a screen (roughly quadrupling the power consumption) you still end up using twice as much energy. Not to mention the factor of up to 8 in the increased embodied energy, nor the extra transportation packaging, landfill etc energy costs ...

      Has anybody done any work on the optimal size of screens for different sized family living rooms and numbers of viewers - or is the assumption always wall-size is the premium?

      The other thing that I get a bit crancky about is standby power - with a lot of TV's still cooking at 60 (or more)% power on standby. There must be more energy efficient ways to provide a standby feature.

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    3. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Power consumption is lower than regular LCD/LED displays, but not by that much. It's much lower when it comes to blacks, but everything else it's about 60-80% power. When it comes to whites it can consume a lot of power. For TV use it isn't much of an issue, but for a mobile device it sucks. Due to the fact a lot of the web is white.

      "Has anybody done any work on the optimal size of screens for different sized family living rooms and numbers of viewers"

      The thing is, consumers are buying bigger…

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Video projectors seem better for delivering a picture to a large curved screen to enhance the 3D experience.
      Apparently there is a breakthrough which has to be made in the coloured lasers necessary for the task.
      Then large curved "screens" illuminated electronically might become redundant.
      But not yet.

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