In January every year for the past 50 years, representatives from the world’s leading technology companies have gathered in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, hosted by the Consumer Technology Association. This is where gadget fans can get the gossip about each brand’s upcoming tech, and where the top trends for the year will first be revealed. We took a look at the biggest news from CES 2017, including the products to watch out for and the tech trends we spied along the way. From concept cars that drive themselves to huge televisions that are less than 3mm thick, there were some amazing innovations revealed at the conference this year.
Automated vehicles and flying cars
Over recent years, CES has become something of a car show! The car of the future is computer controlled, smart and responsive, so it makes sense that these vehicles are released to the consumer electronics sector before the general automotive market. This year, space age tech took a giant leap forward with the unveiling of ‘flying cars’! The chief executive of Airbus confirmed that the company hopes to have its flying car prototype on the road by the end of this year, while little-known Chinese firm Ehang claim their autonomous helicopter is ready for the public right now.
Meanwhile, auto manufacturers continue to move forward in the quest for the first fully automated vehicle. The Faraday Future FF 91, the Honda NeuV, the Chrysler Portal and the Toyota Concept-i are all great examples of what your next car might look like. Many of these vehicles feature full automated control with no input required from the driver, other than to be an extra pair of eyes on the road. Meanwhile, Uber continues to work on its own version of the automated car, which would pick up and drop off passengers with no need for a driver.
The televisions of the future
One of the buzzwords of CES 2017 was 8K, and everyone is certainly getting excited about the dawn of Super-Ultra-High-Definition. However, 4K is still blazing a trail among the top TVs of today. Design seems to be the key focus of this year’s leading television models, with the leading companies going for width and thinness over fancy features. The knockout model of the show was without a doubt the LG Signature OLED TV W, which racks up an impressive 77 inches of screen space and yet is just 2.6mm thick! Light, thin and stylish, this is certainly a desirable product. Also popular with show-goers was the stunning 4K Sony Bravia OLED A1E, which is fully compatible with Google Home and can therefore be entirely controlled through voice commands.
Home hubs and speakers that work with your home
Speaking of smart home devices, it appears that the Amazon Echo is going to have some stiff competition this year. Home speakers that link to your audio devices through Bluetooth have been around for some time, but the addition of voice control makes these great devices extremely desirable. They can also perform basic web searches and return answers to queries, as well as linking to other compatible devices and providing a voice control system for those too.
Of all the products showcased this year, the Lenovo Smart Assistant is probably the one to watch. It has much of the same capabilities as the Echo, thanks to a partnership with Amazon, but a far higher sound quality and overall aesthetic. There are also plans to integrate the device with other smart home tech, such as kitchen appliances and entertainment devices.
One laptop, three screens
Alongside all the practical technology, there are always some crazy products that push the boundaries of what should be possible. Razer’s Project Valerie concept might just fall in this category! The team have created a high powered gaming laptop, complete with 4K resolution, cutting edge graphics and a swish central processor. Nothing unusual there. However, the laptop has an impressive three-screen display actually built in to the unit itself. The additional screens fold out of the laptop from either side, sitting at a slight incline to create an immersive 3D gaming experience. The screens can be used as one panoramic display, or split into three for work purposes. The project itself is a little way off completion, but the company confirmed during its conference that the PC is on its way.
The smallest wearables yet
Smart watches were the hottest gadget last year, but interest in them has dipped slightly – perhaps because many are quite cumbersome and awkward to wear. However, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Motiv Ring – a small and compact ring that tracks your heartbeat, sleep rate and activity levels. This data is fed back to your chosen device, such as your smart phone or laptop, for analysis. The ring is extremely cool and is very comfortable to wear. Thanks to a long life battery, it only needs charging every four to five days, so it can be used continuously. Other companies announced similar plans, so the next generation of wearables is likely to be far smaller.
CES 2017: a summary of the event
There were not so many big announcements from the console and computer gaming industries as some might have expected, but it is more usual for this kind of announcement to be made at the E3 conference in the summer. CES this year focused heavily on home technology, on cybersecurity, on the automotive trade and on fitness and health gadgets. In 2017, we can expect to see amazing progress in the field of self-driving vehicles, and we can also expect virtual reality to move to the next level. By CES 2018, we should expect that the Internet of Things will be fully operational – paving the way for the smart home of the future, and a massive change in the way we see technology.