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Sin City superfest

Refrigerators that talk, supersmart TVs, driverless cars and more from CES 2015 , writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Jan 10, 2015 17:02 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
CES,Consumer Electronics Show,Quantum Dot

The one-armed bandit slot machines entice you as you land at the airport, the ridiculously stretched limousines draw up in an exhausting line-up as you step out, the incredible pyrotechnics and garishly lit-up billboards make for a blinding welcome as you are driven down the city, and the semi-naked ladies with trays full of drinks complete the entire sin city experience as soon as you enter the hotel. This is Vegas, baby!

Baby may be in Vegas, but baby is awfully depressed right now. It’s bone-chillingly cold, I’ve been here for just one day – my flight was delayed due to a dense fog at every single airport en route – and I’ve barely spent a few hours on the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) floor before it shuts down for the day.

And here I am, banging out this column due to mounting ‘going-to-print’ pressure from everyone back home. This is Day One for me, but by the time you read this, CES will be over. I’ve taken a general look around, but there’s no time to actually look at specific products. So this column is a bit of a gamble (considering I’m typing this from Las Vegas, this seems appropriate).

This week, I’m going to go with all the in-your-face trends I’ve spotted in the few hours I was on the show floor. Do remember, we are talking about an event that has two million square feet of exhibit space, about 5,000 companies displaying more than 3,00,000 products, and about 1,50,000 people attending.

I could get this wildly wrong. Next week, I’ll do a detailed Best Of CES piece, and also do a report card on how wrong or right this column was. Ok, let’s spin that wheel!

Crystal gazing into the future of TVs

TV has finally become cool again. Quantum Dot TVs (an added layer of nano-sized crystal dots in economical LCD TVs make their colour saturation truly pop and the picture looks as good as the much pricier OLED TVs), the Samsung Tizen OS finally makes a full blown appearance on a TV.

The supersmart TV: The Samsung Tizen OS finally makes an appearance.

Smart TV has gone ahead and become super smart with LG’s webOS 2.0. With the launch of LG’s Art Slim, the new race for the best-looking TV is truly on. Curved TV sets were on a downward curve. Most importantly, the biggest problem in TV land finally seems to be solved with 4K content, 4K players, 4K broadcast as well as 4K standards finally materialising into real products. Buying a 4K TV now won’t make you feel like a 4K fool. Tech power replaces horsepower in cars

Car companies took up serious space and showcased seriously super techie stuff. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler and a dozen other brands were all there showcasing the biggest gadgets of CES 2015.

Next-gen cars: Next-level infotainment, the amalgamation of Apple CarPlay; soon cars will be bought based on tech.

Next-level infotainment, serious showcasing of driverless car technology, the amalgamation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into cars and a stunning upgrade of in-cabin technology was pouring out of the car showcase areas. The time is near when almost all cars will be bought based on tech specs and not engine specs. I expect to spend a lot of time at the CES car arena in the next few days and the Audi and Mercedes-Benz areas looked particularly tasty. Rise of the Internet of things

A smarthome, a smartoffice, a smartcity and a smarter you – all are coming together, and the biggest players in the business had a lot of things to showcase that. Samsung has spent some big money to acquire IoT (Internet of Things) companies and they had a lot of good stuff on display.

Your refrigerator talks to your car, which in turn talks to your phone, that is already having a conversation with the billing computer at your supermarket! These ‘things’ are starting to become very cool. The good thing this time was that there were real demos of how this slightly ambiguous category was finally starting to come together.

Smartness ahoy! Soon, machines are going to rule every single aspect of our lives.

Most interesting were first generation devices that could talk to Apple’s HomeKit. In those few hours on the floor, I also got a demo of a coffee machine that signalled my fitness band, that in turn sent a message to my doctor that I was on my third cup of latte for the day! Beware, the machines are coming.

Wearable tech that may wear you down
Wearable tech was everywhere. But this time, it seemed that some hard lessons had been learnt from 2014. Rather than a nebulous array of things that were strapped onto your wrist and did some stuff but not much, it seemed that the products and tech were more cohesive and well-thought-out this time.

Smartwatches that were hybrids were the big trend (looks like a normal watch with a dial and hands but has awesome sensors built in), VR headsets from Oculus, Sony, Samsung, Virtuix and many new names had the largest lines. There were smartglasses that could sense when your eyes were tired.

But the real advancement in wearable tech came when it didn’t need to be strapped onto your wrist or head. Smartclothing was huge, with socks that could sense your speed and balance while running, could track your jumping power and could track stamina. There was also a fabric that could detect full body motion and a small attachable strip that was a 24x7 heart rate monitor.

Lots more in the trends department with smartphones, tablets, laptops and robotics. But that’s for next week, when we’ll also analyse how well I did with the ones detailed here. The cards have been dealt, let’s see if ‘baby’ can get a straight flush!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, January 11, 2015
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First Published: Jan 10, 2015 16:02 IST