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For gadget enthusiasts, every year starts with a bang! The largest consumer technology show, CES, is back this January to showcase the latest trends and ideas throughout the gadget world. We sifted through the thousands of products and selected our favourites...
Asus Zenfone AR
CES is not known for its phone announcements (wait for MWC in just over a month’s time), but it still delivers some surprises. Case in point is the Asus Zenfone AR, the first smartphone that uses both Google’s new Virtual and Augmented Reality platforms (Daydream and Tango). These are still more gimmicks than popular features, but the Zenfone AR may be the watershed the industry has been waiting for.
Honda Riding Assist motorcycle
Motorcycles are dangerous. They require skill and experience to use, else you can quickly turn from a human bullet into a human ragdoll. But as our roads become more crowded, two wheels are more attractive than four. The problem is that you may fall… Well, maybe not. Honda’s Riding Assist concept motorcycle keeps itself upright. Seriously. In fact, you’d want to watch the video to appreciate this.
Samsung Chromebook Pro
2-in-1 laptops have been doing well. We just love that you have a touchscreen which can be flipped into a tablet format. Chromebook machines haven’t entered that market yet, but Samsung aims to change things with the Chromebook Pro. Designed from scratch to support the Chromebook operating system, the new 2-in-1 format is a perfect match.
Willow Smart Breast Pump
Ask women raising babies what they wish they could change and you get an intimidating list. From getting more sleep to nappies that could change themselves, many things weigh heavily on a mother. But at least breast pumps may have taken a turn for the better. The Willow Smart Breast Pump is a self-contained system that slips inside a bra. That’s right: you can use this hands-free and while fully clothed. There are also no extra attachments and the milk is stored in compartments inside the pumps. A smartphone app will tell you when the compartments are full.
Sony Bravia A1E
Televisions at CES this year were ridiculously thin. In one example a set was so svelte that it puts a new iPhone to shame. Sony’s Bravia A1E is no different, but it stands out for another reason. The set looks like a single pane, with no bezel or speakers. So where does the sound come from? The screen itself! Using some new technological wizardry, this set transmits sound directly from the screen. It can even send it from the position of the character you are watching, creating some new dynamic sound options.
Lenovo Smart Assistant
Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant that you can talk to, was everywhere at CES this year. The assistant debuted with Amazon’s Echo speaker in 2014. These speakers can play music, but they also listen to what you tell them to do, just like your phone’s virtual assistant. There has since seen several imitations, but Lenovo’s Smart Assistant, which uses Alexa, stands above the rest. It looks more stylish and comes in two variants. The first is priced the same as Echo, but with Harman Kardon speakers. Yet it is the cheaper unit, which costs significantly less than Echo or its imitators, that is the game-changer here.
For years LEGO has been offering Mindstorm, a series of toys that use the familiar plastic building bricks and also lets you program your creations to do different tasks. But it’s aimed at teens and adults, not the young kids who would benefit most from learning programming at an early age. Thus the arrival of LEGO Boost. Boost is in principle the same as Mindstorm, only aimed at kids aged 7. The first kits will let children build robots, cats and even machines that learn to play the harmonica!
Touch screens are great and all, but don’t you wish they could do more with their touch sensations? It may be a reality in your phone or tablet sooner than you think, thanks to Tanvas. This new technology creates the feeling of textures on a touch screen. It uses haptic feedback - basically tiny vibrations - to create the effect. What the world would use this for is still an open question, but Tanvas is already partnering with clothing manufacturers to demo different textures for materials.
Drones have come of age: you can now buy a hobby drone that offers all the bells and whistles of professional equipment, but for less than the price of a car service. So expect some big things for these flying machines in 2017 - and it starts with the Draco. Costing half the price of other racing drones, Draco is capable of speeds over 160 km/h. It is also entirely modular, so if you break it, you don’t have to replace the whole thing.
LG Hub Robot
This is the 21st century, so where are the robots? LG’s Hub Robot isn’t what you expect, but it may just be the first robot you have in your home (if you don’t already own a Roomba vacuum cleaner). The Hub Robot uses Amazon’s Alexa, so it will listen to your commands. It displays information on its screen and shows facial expressions. Hub Bot can also jiggle to music it plays and is, to be honest, ridiculously cute (especially its smaller version). But there is one reason why smart home enthusiasts should be excited about this gadget. It aims to be open and support other smart devices in your home - it already has partnerships with Amazon and Google.
Header image Credit: Flickr/ECT-USC