The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January is the biggest, loudest and glitziest technology show on the planet. From ultra-thin, ultra HDTVs to intelligent HAPIforks; legions of laptops to oddball Flower Power soil sensors; this year’s CES had everything. So it was the perfect place to spot the technology trends that could change our lives for the better. Dean Evans picks his top five
1. Oculus Rift
Did you know that Virtual Reality (VR) was back? Admittedly, you might have missed it the first time around. Rewind to 1992, when The Lawnmower Man movie promised us wondrous virtual worlds and exotic new ways to work with data.
But the technology wasn’t up to it and the graphics were too clunky. The Oculus Rift hopes to reboot VR with a compact set of digital goggles that will bring greater immersion to modern gaming. Beyond that, imagine ditching Excel to work virtually, amidst tower blocks of profit and loss…
2. Samsung Youm
You could argue that the last revolution in mobile phone technology came in 2007, when the iPhone introduced its 3.5-inch multi-touch screen and slick, icon-based interface. Since then, we’ve seen bigger displays, faster processors and better cameras, but smartphones themselves have looked much the same.
The Samsung Youm could change all that. It’s a high-tech OLED display that uses thin plastic instead of glass, enabling the screen to be flexible, bendable, perhaps even foldable.
3. Activity trackers
When you sit at a desk all day, it’s often difficult to do any meaningful exercise. But perhaps you don’t need to. With new wearable activity trackers like the Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand and FitBit Flex, you can use companion smartphone apps to track how far you travel in a day, how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned. You can even measure the quality of your sleep.
4. The Pebble Smartwatch
Pebble exists because its creators used the Kickstarter website to ask for donations. They wanted to build a digital watch with a long-lasting e-paper display – similar to the technology used in the Amazon Kindle. The watch would connect wirelessly to your smartphone, enabling you to check your email, schedule and use a variety of apps. Pebble raised over $10 million from people eager to buy one and it’s finally finished. With Apple reportedly developing an ‘iWatch’ it seems that wearable computing is nearly upon us.
Why choose between a laptop and a tablet, when you could buy a laptop that is also a tablet? The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix is the best of both worlds. Use it like a traditional ThinkPad Ultrabook or detach the 11.6-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel full HD screen and use it as a Windows 8 tablet. As a tablet, you’ll get six hours of battery life out of the ThinkPad Helix.
But there’s also a four-hour battery cell in the keyboard dock. Connect the screen again, fold it back down on top of the keyboard and it becomes a fatter tablet with 10 hours of battery life. This is the future of the laptop right here.
Dean Evans is a technology writer and former editor of TechRadar.com.
Dean Evans is Editorial Director at That Media Thing Ltd.