A handful of the thousands of new technology products launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show made a lasting impression on the approximately 150,000 visitors from more than 150 countries.
Here are 10 products and categories that created the most buzz at the Las Vegas event that ended yesterday. Many of the rest are destined to fade into obscurity.
Smartwatches continue to be a hot theme heading into 2016, and China’s Huawei has some of the most handsome offerings.
The Watch Jewel and Watch Elegant, selling in early 2016 for $599 US and $499, run Google’s Android Wear software and are aimed at women.
The Watch Jewel has 68 Swarovski zirconia crystals surrounding its circular 42-mm body. The watch face is always on in low power mode and lights up into full activity when tapped.
“We wanted it to be more feminine and something that women would be more attracted to,” says spokesperson Chase Skinner.
Wearables also continue to be big, with companies and entrepreneurs literally trying to cover every body part with connectivity and sensors.
Montreal’s Hexoskin announced a new smart shirt, which measures its wearer’s cardiac and breathing activity. The shirt, as well as the tracking device that slips into it, sells for $449 in Canada.
Hexoskin chief executive Pierre-Alexandre Fournier says the shirt works better than wrist-worn fitness trackers in activities such as martial arts, boxing or basketball.
“We measure things that are hard to measure on the wrist,” he says. “And if you want to do team sports, you can’t wear things on your wrist.”
Toys are always a hit at CES, even if they are educational, which is what Lego is aiming for with its new WeDo 2.0 kit.
The set, which is sold to schools, aims to introduce children in Grades 2 to 4 to simple programming, a sort of slimmed-down version of Lego’s full Mindstorms robotics toys.
The base set, which lets kids create and program small Lego robots, starts at $169, with a separate curriculum package costing $270.
A classroom of 30 students can be equipped for less than $2,000, according to spokesperson Leshia Hoot. “It brings science to life in the classroom,” she says.
HTC Vive Pre
Virtual reality was the biggest news at this year’s CES, with companies touting numerous headsets, controllers and applications.
Taiwan’s HTC is one of the companies leading the charge with its second-generation Vive Pre headset, which is more compact and comfortable and features improved lenses, as well as refined handheld controllers.
The Vive Pre also has a front-facing camera for detecting its wearer’s surroundings and keeping him or her from walking into things. It’s a mind-blowing experience, but it still needs a high-powered computer to work.
HTC will start taking pre-orders in February with an expected ship date in April, although the company has not yet announced the price. San Francisco-based Oculus, its main competitor, plans to sell its Rift headset for $599 US later in 2016.
Movement within virtual reality is still an issue that a number of startups are looking to solve.
France’s 3D Rudder has a round, skateboard-like platform that lets its user move forward and backward, side to side and up and down. The user controls movements with their feet while sitting, leaving their hands free to do other things — or hold other controllers.
“We believe it’s the solution to movement,” says company founder Stanislas Chesnais. “It helps to keep your hands independent.”
The 3D Rudder will be available for pre-order in July for $175 US.
Unmanned systems, also known as drones, were everywhere at this year’s CES, although fortunately for attendees, they weren’t allowed to fly freely and were instead relegated to caged silos at booths.
The options spanned the gamut from inexpensive toys from the likes of France’s Parrot to the Inspire 1, pictured, from China’s DJI.
The Inspire 1 sells for $2,600 US and is aimed at professional filmmakers, with a 4K camera and video positioning system.
Next-generation cars also attracted a good deal of attention, with CES quickly becoming automakers’ preferred venue for making product announcements.
Among those was California-based Faraday Future, emerging from stealth mode.
Backed by Jia Yueting, the founder of LEtv, known as China’s Netflix, the company is set to open a $1 billion production plant in Nevada, where it will work on a connected, self-driving electric vehicle.
The company’s futuristic-looking concept car, the FFZero1, attracted big crowds — and big questions about whether it’s all for real.
Yet, with Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval in attendance at the company’s press conference on Monday evening, there are some big expectations on Faraday Future.
Startups are becoming a bigger part of CES every year.
Eureka Park, a section devoted to small businesses, has grown every year its inception in 2012. This year it hosted 500 exhibitors, up from 375 last year.
The ideas span a wide range, from retina-reading luggage to coffeemakers that can print photos into the foam at the top of the cup.
One unique idea is Droppler, from California’s Nascent Objects, which measures water consumption by listening to how much noise a household’s taps make. The $100 US device then syncs with an app, where users can see exactly how much water they’re using.
“You’d be surprised how much people lower their consumption once they can actually visualize it,” says company founder Babak Elmieh.
Ultra-high-definition or 4K televisions are picking up steam, with all the major manufacturers now in full-blown push mode on the higher-resolution panels.
Aside from packing more pixels onto screens, however, the TV makers, including Sony, Samsung and LG, are also adding high-dynamic-range technology, resulting in better colour ranges and whiter whites.
Tracking firm IHS expects global sales of the higher-ends sets to hit 96 million by 2019, up from just 12 million in 2014.
To go with those 4K televisions, manufacturers will soon be releasing 4K Blu-ray players.
Samsung, pictured, and Philips were two of the major companies to announce devices at CES. Samsung is aiming for a March release but has not disclosed a price, while Philips’ player is expected to cost under $400.
Film studios also used CES to announce products, with Warner Bros. saying it will release 35 4K Blu-ray movies this year, including Mad Max: Fury Road and The Lego Movie.