Gadgets ahoy: Looking forward to Las Vegas

 

The technology year always starts with the biggest, brashest gadgetfest of them all - the Consumer Electronics Show.

The cavernous halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre have always provided sensory overload during CES. We will be there next week, trying to pick out what's hot and what's ho-hum amongst the thousands of new products vying for attention.

Here are some of the themes we hope to explore:

A brighter picture

A 55-inch OLED TV That's a 55in screen on this 3D OLED TV

For most households, the television is still the most important gadget in their daily lives. And, at CES, the big Japanese and South Korean manufacturers try to excite us with something new. In recent years, the big stories have been about internet connected TVs, 3D and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) - a technology which offers beautiful pin-sharp pictures at eye-watering prices.

This year there will be more of the same, although I'm expecting manufacturers to be less eager to push 3D which has met with a lukewarm reception from consumers. Instead the focus will be on bigger, better screens with something called Ultra High Definition - the next big thing after HD - making its debut.

Samsung is also rumoured to be unveiling a transparent TV, while there is even talk of flexible screens. How soon these new TVs will be available - and at prices that anyone but the super-rich can afford - is another matter.

Smarter phones

Two months before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CES seems keen to steal its thunder. A host of new smartphones will be launched in Las Vegas, with China's Huawei and ZTE, and Japan's Sony among those unveiling devices. Just as with TVs, the accent is on ever bigger screens with the boundary between phones and tablets becoming blurred.

But there will also be gimmicks designed to differentiate new phones in a market where everything looks much the same. To keep mobile users busy with their new devices, there will be a vast array of new apps on show, designed to let you do everything from monitor your health to switch on the lights at home from your phone.

Wearable computing

A Google employee wearing the company's Glass spectacles

Wearable computing is the hot new idea for 2013, though Google Glass - the augmented reality product which has helped spark the boom - won't be in Las Vegas (and may not be available to consumers for quite a while).

Wearing glasses, watches or other devices with an internet connection to provide you with data or a new view of your surroundings is a futurist's dream that is now becoming practical as fast mobile networks spread. Many of the devices are aimed at the health and fitness markets, and I hope to try a few in Las Vegas to monitor the way my body copes with the CES experience.

Automated cars

Another Google innovation - its plan for self-driving cars - appears to have pushed the big players in the automotive industry to start coming up with their own automated driving ideas.

Toyota and Lexus will be unveiling what they call an advanced active safety research vehicle, which they've been testing in recent months. It appears to know how to change lanes safely without driver assistance - but years of development and law changes lie ahead before you can climb into the back seat and let the computer up front get on with it.

New user interfaces

The way we interact with computers has been transformed in recent years, as we move from the mouse and keyboard to the touchscreen experience. CES, once the place to see the latest personal computers, will still have plenty on show. But many PC laptops will be convertibles, designed to turn into tablets for the hybrid environment of Windows 8.

We will also see more voice-activated devices, though the jury is out on how keen we are to talk to our PCs and phones. There may be more excitement around the idea of gesture controlled devices, using technology like that in Microsoft's XBox Kinect system.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    75 - Ben-BS. He actually says a Google innovation, not invention. Different words.

    Google were the first official DMV issued licence holders for a self-drive car, that's maybe why Rory is saying it's a "Google innovation".

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    Tell us something useful Rory:

    How do we stop these sites, which play stuff at us even when we've not clicked nor selected items, but merely by moving our cursors over them, and then continue to hit us with the soundtrack even when we navigate away from the page?

    How much did they pay MS?

    Well?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    Why do you keep saying self driving cars are a Google invention?
    They are not, car manufacturers have been working on this a long time before Google.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 74.

    When I see deep space ships leaving orbit with 'Samsung' 'Sony' 'Hitachi' so on down the side it will truly be a marvel of technology.

    TV is TV and no matter how much its dressed up its a TV.

    I want progress not more gadgets time wasting hours to social media ect and reality crap TV or TV's that cost over £6k ill never buy.

    We are lost as a species and wont wake until its too late...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    Is this where technology has led us? Ever more expensive and pointless toys?
    Internet TVs? I like my internet on my computer, where I can use it. I like my TV (and DVDs) on my TV, where I can watch it. The two devices are not even in the same room and I have absolutely no need to combine them in one device.
    Why do these companies not use their skill and resources to make something that is useful?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 72.

    We use X10 for lights. X10 dates from the 1970s.

    Our set up uses a serial RF reciever, serial X10 interface, a serial/ethernet adaptor and some of my own Java and php code.

    We recently got a mobile device - an ebook reader. I only had to modify a web page to use it as an X10 remote.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 71.

    I have been controlling my House Lights from my phone for 2 years.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 70.

    @65 D Dortman
    Don't worry about the automated car program doing the driving. It will be constantly monitored and corrected by the Wireless Infrared Feedback Equipment located in the back seat. As long as the WIFE is constantly finding fault with the driving there should be no problems.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 69.

    I cringe at all this technology we never new we needed - at least until the money grabbing manufacturers told us we needed it. I would be happy if they just brought out some kit that was reliable and durable. That wont happen as the makers have to build in obsolescence so they can make their billions each year. So I will limit my technology use to the minimum. You need less than you think.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    with all this advanced technology available surely the BBC could come up with viable system for 'Have Your Say' .. Last night was a shambles.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 67.

    @65

    You know that things like space shuttles and airplanes have used software for some time don't you? It is perfectly possible to produce reliable software, even if Microsoft can't manage it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    @Keith Gould - the contextual bit is sort of there already, OCR engines already do it, but I agree with the rest. Intonation and speed of speech will be the tough bits to interpret.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 65.

    Automated cars (again), who would really want one of these things?

    " ERROR 999203 Your XCar3000 has stopped responding, please reboot" isn't going to be very reassuring if you're sat in the back seat doing 70mph on a motorway.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 64.

    New Year Resolution RCJ? No mention of Apple! Surely this must be a first.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    @Dave M - You nailed the major flaw. Every voice tech I have tried (since 1970's) suffers from the fatal flaw that it expects me to change my accent and normal rate of speech to fit the tech. In fact the root frustration with this type of tech is that in natural spoken interactions participants are parsing auditory (intonation/context) and visual cues to aid comprehension of the spoken content.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 62.

    48.uk_is_toast


    If the technology works even half as well as promised one would expect insurance premiums to fall - cars driven by computers will not suffer from human foilbles such as responding to some half wit at the traffic lights revving his car & deciding to chase him etc....

    ....less accidents = lower premiums! (but not much as insurance firms do like profiteering......)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 61.

    @60.steve

    So true. Furthermore, it will change how people work, play and socialise. I remember at school all the popular kids were mocking the geeks for designing websites and electronics. They called sad any conventions the geeks had.

    Now fast forward to the present and even the sporty types are using smileys, using tech terms in conversation... and web design is now a cool job to have.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 60.

    What will be regarded as only of interest to Techno Geeks now will be in everyones home in 10 years time

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 59.

    "the jury is out on how keen we are to talk to our PCs and phones"

    Especially if you have a speech impediment or non-standard accent. Almost every current system recognises the way I say 'one' as 'four', though people never do. So I end us having to say 'wan' instead. That's bad enough for just numbers

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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