CES sets the pace for technology in 2014
The CES 2014 took place in Las Vegas, Nevada from the 7th to the 10th of January. It surely started the year off with a bang. The Consumer Electronics Show goes as far back as 1967. There was a point at which the show was held twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer. Since 1998, however, it only occurs once a year and this year saw upwards of 150,000 attendees (the very first show saw “only” 17,500 attendees).
Some people may be wondering why there was so much news about CES. Some of you may not even have heard of this show. But it is in fact a very significant show that one needs to keep one’s eye on if you want to keep updated on the latest tech news. Just to give you a perspective on why the CES is so important, here’s a short list of all the products that made their debut at the CES since its inception:
- Videocassette recorder (VCR)
- Compact disc player or CD player
- Blu-ray disc
- High-definition television
- Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console
These are only a few innovations that saw the light at this much-lauded technology showcase. So, one can see why it is of value to look out for what emerges from the Consumer Electronics Show because it will show you the future. We take a look at three of the top trends to emerge from this year’s jam-packed show of innovations.
4K television and curved screens
First it was HD television that caught everyone’s attention. Now the world has moved on to bigger, brighter things with 4K resolution. Display resolution can be best explained as the number of pixels that can be found in every dimension that can be displayed. It is quoted as width x height and the units are in pixels. For example, 1024×768 tells you that there are 1024 pixels in the width of the display unit and 768 pixels in the height.
When it comes to 4K resolution, it is a display unit that has about 4,000 pixels in its horizontal display. Officially, 4K is 4096×2160 pixels. Anything that has 4K resolution is classified as Ultra HD (UHD). It is basically 4 times the quality of HD.
There is not yet much in the way of content that can accommodate 4K television. Netflix will be introducing Netflix 4K soon (no official launch date yet) and Sony has a 4K media streamer. There is also speculation that the 2014 World Cup Final in Brazil will be captured using 4K cameras. So, it is currently slim pickings.
There is also the issue of whether our human eyes can distinguish the difference between HD television display quality and UHD or 4K display. It may very well be that the capabilities of this new technology outpace the capabilities of the human eye. But despite these issues all the big names like Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and Philips, have all released 4K televisions at CES 2014. There are even 4K televisions that can curve into an S-shape with the press of a button. Hopefully one day the content will catch up and the prices will normalise enough (as is the case with HD) to become a truly useful technology.
Oculus Rift Crystal Cove and virtual reality gaming
The Oculus Rift Virtual Reality gaming headset is not yet available to the general public for purchase but it is already making lots of waves among the gaming community. Developer kits have been handed out to about 50,000 developers to provide them the chance to try it out and review its virtual reality experience. At CES 2014 the latest Oculus Rift prototype, called Crystal Cove, was released and won the “Best of CES 2014” award.
The Oculus Rift headgear places you slap-bang in the middle of the gaming experience by immersing you in the game itself. You can see your virtual body when you look down or reach out to controlpanels in front of you. Eve Valkyrie from the creators of Eve Online was one of the full games to be linked to the Oculus Rift. It provides you an experience of what it would be like to ride in space ships and fight space dogs. The retail version is expected to come out late 2014 or early 2015.
Wearables were all over this year’s CES. Sony introduced their Core Smartband along with a Lifelog Android app. This wearable tracker is said to track everything from how well you slept the night before to how many steps you take a day. Sony also showed off the Sony Action Cam whereby five cameras are meshed together and then controlled via a wrist controller. There was also the introduction of a helmet called the i-Grow, that emits a laser light to aid the follicly-challenged to grow new hair.
The Ok-i-dokey bracelet pairs with an app to unlock your valuables without the need for a key. The creator of gaming hardware Razer unveiled the Razer Nabu which is a hybrid smartwatch and activity tracker. We also saw the RunPhones Headband for the active people out there. It combines a tight-fitting headband with built-in headphones to make running and listening to music hands-free.
These are only a few of the wearable tech that was showcased at CES 2014 so it is safe to say that wearables (like the well-known Google Glass) are now firmly set to become a part of our lives. For those who say, “No way, not going to happen”, just remember that tablets were said to never become a household gadget and look at where we are now. Now we only have to wait for wearables to become cheaper and more user-friendly.
There were lots of other crazy gadgets that saw the light at CES 2014 that was not mentioned above. Some of these include Sen.se Mother, a programmable “mother” that controls actions we are used to doing without even thinking like reminding you to take your medicine or pushing you to go exercise – just like a real mother. There was also PhoneSoap for the germophobes out there and earphones that don’t need to be placed in your ears to make your hear sounds. There was even a 3D candy printer, an addition that is for those who don’t take their tech seriously. Life can only become more interesting, more organized and more fun if all these wonderful gadgets at CES 2014 are anything to go by.