Technology Fever Hits Las Vegas at The Annual CES

Cast yourselves back to 1989 when Back To The Future 2 hit the cinemas and you couldn’t believe your eyes at the endless futuristic gadgets. Whilst a number of these imagined gadgets still seem way off even today - remember the self-walking dog leads, flying cars, and instant pizza ovens – in other ways the producers of the franchise truly predicted the future when they envision the year 2015.

We are already very familiar with video calls such as Skype and Face Time as well as 3D images, film and more recently print, but like the fascination we had with Marty’s self-drying jacket and power laces more than 25 years ago, this year’s CES show saw a huge surge in wearable technology. In fact Nike are set to sell power laces this year for £2,500!

What is the CES?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the biggest event in the technology calendar. The Last Vegas event, taking place in January each year, houses more than 50,000 exhibitors and 16,000 attendees over a 3 day period (7th to 9th Jan).

The show is an opportunity for small companies who are willing to gamble on media exposure to show off their innovative ideas as much as it is for established companies such as Mercedes and Intel. However, it is clear that although the event is extremely popular amongst thousands of ‘techies’ it isn’t necessarily for everyone. Microsoft have scaled back on appearances since 2011 and Apple have never been; and they haven’t done that bad have they? Whilst the show is not open to the public – boo – we are still privy to all the latest gadgets and technological advances. I guess what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Amongst hundreds of categories and thousands of products displayed at the CES, check out the BBC for full coverage, there are a few which have stood out amid others. Below we share with you not only the shows main talking points but the gadgets we love.

The Rise Of the Wearables

Although such technology is not entirely new to us, we are already familiar with Google glasses and smart watches, there has been much buzz surrounding wearables at this year’s show.

The new trend: invisible technology.

Products include smart clothing, smartwatches, connected glasses, health and fitness technology and even jewellery. The idea being that the user can take full advantage of constant real-time information monitoring without others knowing that they are wearing anything.

The UK’s Cambridge Consultants amongst others are displaying prototypes of smart shirts equipped with a range of sensors integrated into the fabrics aimed at tracking both heart rate and activity. Others, such as Australian start up GameTraka have developed a GPS-enable device which sits behind the users neck to provide performance data collected from contact sports such as rugby.

Even rapper Curtis ‘50Cent’ Jackson has got in on the act and developed, along with Intel, a new range of Biosport headphones for his SMS Audio range. They can tell you how fast you are running and how many calories you have burnt in the process offering everything a treadmill does just in a headset” said Jackson.

InBody is a health and fitness industry with more than 20 years’ experience and this year they have introduced the InBody Band which can provide health analysis in real-time. The small, hardly noticeable wrist band, is capable of analysing fat, muscle mass and body fat percentage as well as heart rate and body mass index. You can even set targets using your iOS or Android device. Great for all this New Year dieting.

The Future of The Drone

This January saw a huge rise in the production and interest in drone technology; exhibitors even had their own area at the venue for the first time. It seems that drones are arguably one of the most talked about advances this year; a market which could apparently be worth £86m in 2015 - thats 50% more than they were in 2014.

Whilst some companies such as Ehang simply tried to market towards a female audience with a pink drone; will women really only buy a florescent pink drone? Others jumped on the bandwagon of our ‘selfie’ crazed culture with The Selfie Drone. The Hexo+ can fly up to 200ft above your head in a bid to circle you providing an all-around aerial selfie. The device requires absolutely no skills to use , has a 15minute flight time – which is more than enough for a ‘decent selfie’ – and is connected to your phone. Surely the good old selfie stick will do?

The Drone Stick was also a talked about device from DJI enabling you to attach your drone camera when you can’t use the drone itself. Currently still a prototype at this stage you’ll also be able to attach your phone which acts as a viewfinder. The stick won’t only accommodated its own camera but will work in conjunction with everyone’s favourite: the GoPro. The makers suggest that it will empower users to complete film/photography projects getting every shot they need.

Don’t fancy dragging around a hefty device with you? Then the Zano palm sized quadcopter is the drone for you. Controlled by your smart phone the drone is able to avoid obstacles, hold its position and even recognise where it is in comparison with your smart device.

Is Driving A Thing of The Past?

It seems that we could be heading in that direction. Mercedes unveiled, along with a multitude of other car manufacturers, connected and self-driving cars.

Their vision for the future consists of an autonomous vehicle designed to function as a communal living room as they predict cars are moving beyond their role as a means of transport. The Mercedes Benz F015 was shown off on the streets of Las Vegas without a driver demonstrating the possibilities for passengers to converse on route.

Once inside the chairs can swivel around allowing all passengers to face each other, where there are a total of 6 screens to watch for additional connectivity and entertainment. If for some reason you’d prefer to drive manually, a steering wheel would emerge and chairs automatically turned to face the direction of travel.

Despite how utterly amazing this feat is, would you really be able to allow your car’s on-board computer to drive you where you need to get to? We’re not so sure that the public is ready yet, we certainly can’t see ourselves moving beyond a state of fear.

And What You Never Knew You Didn’t Need

There are of course plenty of gadgets at the show, like every year, which are completely bizarre & unnecessary but entirely enthralling. Take The Belty for example. Created by French start up Emiota the belt has been designed to monitor your waistline advising you when it’s time to give up the chocolate and lose a bit of weight. Additionally the belt automatically loosens when you sit and tightens when you stand. Would you want a belt telling you you’ve piled on the pounds? No, we didn’t think so.

How about the simply named Ring from Logbar? The device allows you to control a number of objects in your home at the wave of a hand. It is the 2nd version, after the company fixed problems that caused it to interfere with phone signals. It simply works by connecting to a platform called the Ring Hub so you can control your curtains, TV’s and lights via infrared. It seems to us that the future of things with gadgets like this is a lazy nation. Can you really not manage to shut your curtains at night the old fashioned way?

Finally, take a look at the Kolibree connected toothbrush. This continuing theme across all platforms of the CES hasn’t escaped dental hygiene as your toothbrush is about to become smart too. This, dare we say it, novelty item, is fairly useless unless you’re in desperate need of recorded data referring to your brushing technique on your phone.

On the whole however the CES yet again seems to have been a roaring success with hundreds of start-ups introducing products equally as worthy multimillion pound companies.

Posted by Paul Randall
13th January 2015