Just when you think you’ve seen it all, CES comes along and shakes everything up again. Last week, the world’s biggest consumer tech event returned to Las Vegas, and with it the latest batch of developments in the field of technology. From ingenious inventions to the downright nuts, the Consumer Electronics Show has been at the forefront of the technology industry for over fifty years. With nearly 4,500 exhibiting companies, the vast labyrinth of products, brands and insights to ingest can be overwhelming, so we’ve separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you the most important trends to keep an eye on.
Saving space without sacrificing size
— Ben Wood (@benwood) January 8, 2019
What if saving space didn’t just come down to size? This seems to be what electronics brands are beginning to ask themselves, turning the challenge of making electronics compact on its head without compromising on screen resolution. LG announced that this year will see the release of its 4k OLED TV, which conveniently rolls up into its own slimline TV cabinet, stowed entirely out of view – a nifty response to Samsung’s “Art Mode” TV. Meanwhile, though many industry insiders are questioning the success of FlexPai’s bending smartphone (“style over substance” seems to be the consensus for now) it undoubtedly makes us reconsider what smartphones are capable of – and not just under the bonnet, as it were. Expect big things to come for the foldable smartphone sector this year: Samsung and Xiaomi are supposedly hot on FlexPai’s heels with flexible devices. Watch this space.
Pet tech enters a new dawn
Who said consumers can’t have tails? Countless tech companies brought products to CES targeted at our furry friends. Korean brand Pepe revealed its new pet dryer, which steps in where a towel won’t cut the mustard (although the hefty price tag is something to be sneezed at). Petcube’s Bites 2 aims to make light work of keeping an eye on your pet and dispensing (i.e. flinging) treats while you’re away. And, for the dirty work, PurrSong’s self-cleaning litter tray LavvieBot has got you covered – and can even text you when the deed has been done.
Drones are about to go submarine
Drones are typically seen as our friends – or enemies – of the sky. Metallic pigeons, if you will. However, forget the sky for a moment, as drones are about to go fully aquatic. A whole host of underwater drones were unleashed at this year’s CES, from Robosea’s charming Biki drone (which looks like it has swum over from Finding Nemo, but with a 4k camera) to Robosea’s fearsome Robo-shark, a quiet but effective drone with a 3km range. Like their aerial counterparts, underwater drones open up new possibilities for exploration, inspection and of course, recreation too.
Speeding into the future
CES has gradually been making its name as a crucial playing field for automakers, and this year brands continued to push the boundary of what a car can be. Mercedes-Benz brought along its Vision Urbanetic Concept vehicle – an autonomous electric vehicle with space that alternates between transporting passengers and carrying cargo – and Nissan’s new electric car Leaf Plus has considerably boosted its range to 226 miles. Meanwhile, in-car technology is continuing to evolve: component supplier Valeo demonstrated its intuitive personalised climate control and Bose demoed its next-level noise cancellation system which removes uses in-car microphones to kill off road and suspension noise in the cabin.
Alexa vs. Google Assistant: the battle continues
Amazon’s Alexa feels like something of a veteran in the world of smart voice assistants, which might be why it didn’t come out all guns blazing at CES this year. Google Assistant, however, pulled out all the stops at demos, even making its presence felt at third-party exhibits. What has become clear is that, so long as companies play to both sides and don’t pledge allegiance with either Alexa or Google Assistant (which they likely won’t, in a bid to have all bases covered), then don’t expect a ceasefire anytime soon.