Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas gets bigger and more impressive, hosting the top names in technology and electronics and providing a harbinger of the things to come. The 2014 version was no exception. Some of the main trends emerging from the show were as follows:
1. Conversational appliances inside connected homes. Advances in technology promise that not only will our refrigerators tell us when the milk is getting low, but washing machines will provide a warning that the rinse cycle is about to start. Bathroom scales will link to online sites, to help dieters keep track of their progress. These smart appliances also will have specific recommendations and services for each member of the household, ensuring individual-level targeting.
2. Really smart, really sharp, really big televisions. It might seem as if this trend would be covered in the connected homes prediction, but it is so remarkable that it earned its own place on most lists. Televisions are getting bigger than ever, with improved 4K resolution (four times better than the HD televisions currently on the market). The LEDs are getting better too, with an organic version (OLED) that provides better contrast. Finally, the big screens are curving, such that even if viewers have a relatively small room and must sit close to the television, they can still enjoy the full peripheral view.
3. Fitness, readily on hand. For a show that stereotypically has appealed to tech geeks, fitness was a major theme at CES. The latest innovations make it far easier for consumers to track their exercise rates, times, and distances, then engage with others by uploading the data to shared sites. Enhancing this ease, many of the fitness apps depend on technology that users can wear, such that they never need to take it off, if they so choose.
4. The promise of the driverless car. Automakers including Lexus and Audi announced collaborations with innovators from companies such as Google and Apple in their ongoing effort to devise a car that can drive itself. Others were slightly less ambitious, such as the impending dashboard-mounted weather and music apps from GM. These models also plan to include 4G LTE hotspots within the cars themselves. In a combined effort, Honda, Hyundai, Audi, and GM are working with the chip manufacturer Nvidia and engineers from Google (along with input from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to develop industry standards to define the rules for linked cars and their in-vehicle mobile apps.