Every year, at the end of the first week of January, I take stock of what happens at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in the US. And I can say this year that technology is pushing itself in manners where the smartphone boom may be past its prime. Crazy gizmos, many of them connected to the internet, are the ones that will shape the market in the coming years.
Which is perhaps why I sounded a so-what note last week when Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 4 in India at Rs 89,900. Sure it may be faster than Apple’s Macbook Air, but I think the cool quotient is now in strange new applications. Both smartphones and netbooks/laptops/tablets seem passé in themselves. They’ll get smarter and better, but I can’t see more “Aha!” in them.
Consider the fact that there is now an olfactory alarm clock which is taking the game of waking you up from fancy sounds to smells. The saying, “Wake up and smell the coffee” now actually has a real clock angle. Invented by Guillaume Rolland, who is only 19 years old, the clock called SensorWake is now partnering with a Swiss fragrance maker on concentrated scents.
There are now thermometers and even pregnancy tests that can be connected to the smartphone with links to the internet, or the cloud.
Microchip giant Intel unveiled a drone that can guide itself and avoid collisions, like a self-driving car. Imagine the implications in a world where consumer drones are also hitting the market. I can imagine Harry Potter-like scenes on the main streets in less than a decade.
South Korean giant LG showed the prototype of a rollable display – which means you can one day hope to carry a plastic-derivative TV screen like a newspaper.
The coming March will see the launch of the Oculus Rift VR (virtual reality) headset from Facebook, priced at $599 (Rs 40,000). This can be used to create large-screen-like movie experiences including 3D cinema . Eventual applications involve shared social experiences in virtual reality.
Many such applications are linked to smartphones and/or laptops/tablets, but the game is shifting to new experiences they can provide through other devices. Smartphones and tablets will still steer the devices but a smart buyer may be well advised to spend the money on what I call “composite digital experiences”.