The 2014 International CES has come and gone. Despite a dizzying array of new geeky gadgets to play with, there were no uniquely innovative, break-through products announced. After all, many tech companies make announcements on their own schedule now, not necessarily timed with this show.
Surprisingly, Microsoft and Google did not have a huge presence this year and, as usual, Apple is not a participant. Still, there were a few top trends to keep an eye on in the coming year. These are the top trends in technology that will shape the way we live, work and play as seen in CES 2014:
Ford showed off its new generation of apps for the car, from helpful ways to find parking, to easily ordering a pizza on your way home from work. General Motors introduced OnStar 4G LTE and the app shop. Just about every car is now being upgraded to “smart.” It may have a built-in screen, make use of your existing mobile device or have a heads-up display (HUD) to guide you through traffic.
There may also come a day when you order your car in either an Apple or Google Android version. Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance, made up of partners such as GM, Audi, Honda and others. With a unified app system, developers don’t have to write for each specific company.
Intel and Infiniti are also going along for the ride, highlighting ways in which their technologies will make roads and driving safer, which, given all the distracted driving we’re about to see, is a great thing.
It seems like every company has designed its own version of something you can wear that has a sensor. I’m not just talking about fitness or activity trackers—of which there many. I mean augmented vision glasses from companies like Vuzix and XOEye and wearable cameras from Sony and GoPro.
There’s even a wearable device for your dog! Voyce is a dog collar that can track your pet’s vital signs, which keeps you informed of his activity and potential health concerns via an app.
In terms of smartwatches, tech companies need to make them more attractive and affordable with longer battery life than a day. The Pebble Steel is the one I have my eye on because it’s functional, delivering text messages and emails to my wrist, and it looks good.
If your office has a Bring Your Own Device policy, keep an eye on Samsung and Asus. These two companies are top-notch in offering devices capable of ‘doing it all.’ Samsung says its 12.2-inch TabPro is great for folks who want to do more with their tablets, designed for both work and play. That means you can take it to work and run productivity apps while consuming content.
I thought a 12-inch screen would be too large and unwieldy, but it felt really solid and robust in my hand. It comes with remote PC access and pre-loaded with WebEx.
The Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 is a quad-mode Dual-OS laptop and tablet that can run Windows 8 or Android. The screen can be removed with one press of a button and used as a tablet, which can also run on either Windows 8.1 or Android. You can easily switch between the OS’s with a tap on the screen, no need to re-boot or long wait while it loads.
We keep hearing about the Internet of Things and this year we started to see some of those ‘things’ actually working together.
Some companies like Staples and Lowes are selling all-in-one smart home kits that include everything from lights and sensors to security cameras and locks. But that doesn’t help if you want to choose your own devices. Revolv offered a demo of their one-app solution that promises to unify all those off-the-shelf wireless products and it actually worked. Here’s to more companies playing nicely together.
If you’re in the market for a new TV this year, chances are you might be buying a UHD or Ultra High Def TV. I know, you just finally got that new HDTV a few years ago, but the visual difference in 4K technology is stunning.
4K TV is four times the resolution of 1080p, what you’re currently used to watching. The picture is sharp and clear and the colors are more vibrant.
Prices are coming down to the consumer level, which means by the end of this year you’ll be able to get one at a more affordable price, in a size that fits in your home. Vizio and Hisense had under-$2,000 models on display at the CES show.
Content is an issue – as in, there isn’t much - but Netflix announced it will start streaming 4K content later this year. Sony has a 4K camcorder that lets you shoot your own video to watch.
Photo Credit: The first image up top is courtesy of 2014 International CES. The rest of the images are courtesy of company press and product pages.