CES 2015: Science-Fiction Made Non-Fiction

If you kept up with the CES this year, like we did, you saw that technology is evolving along a different path than it has in many CES fairs of recent history. Yes, there are the incremental improvements associated with just about any trade show. Products are getting flashier, better, and more improved. Laptops are smaller, thinner, and more efficient. There’s even a whole new line of cameras that’s being churned out. TV displays are getting sharper and sharper, and picture quality is getting better. The technology of tomorrow will transcend the technology of the past ten years in more than just quality, but also in function.

Imagine a world where every accessory on your person is computer-optimized to enhance your daily life in unbelievable ways. This is a world envisioned by manufacturers as one of the fastest-growing forms of gadgetry – wearables. The field of wearables gained a lot of traction in 2014 with commercial releases of smart watches such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2 and Motorola’s Moto 360. At the world’s premier electronic tradeshow, smartwatches were in no shortage with products like Sony’s SmartWatch 3 Steel or LG’s W120L being showcased. Yet, the wearables of tomorrow won’t be limited to watches. Bragi’s wireless “The Dash” headphones promise more functionality than that old iPod shuffle you bought years back. These two wireless earbuds, about the size of hearing aids, interface with your phone through Bluetooth, but moreover, they are complete with motion sensors, microphones, touch controls, heart rate monitors, and oxygen saturation detectors. The AmpStrip, a crowdfunding success story, was demonstrated at this year’s CES and showed off its Band-Aid-sized thermometer, accelerometer, and heart rate monitor. A start-up company called Belty even showed off a belt that automatically adjusts to your waist size and vibrates when you’ve been inactive for too long.

The trade show was also replete with drones and so-called “UAVs.” As the evolved form of remote control helicopters, drone technology allows users to fly their devices around and guide them from controllers or their mobile devices. The drones presented at CES promise a myriad of different functions and uses, but the primary application (aside from having fun just flying a drone around) is filmmaking. The drones shown at CES were certainly packing in the camera department. Many of the drones demoed in Vegas are by default equipped with cameras, and many more promise GoPro compatability. The Inspire 1 drone, in particular, holds the distinction of being the first drone to be outfitted with a 4K camera.

Besides the wearables and drones, the next technology slated to change the world over the next ten years is likely 3D-Printing. As a technology, it has shown its stripes and being able to be used for uses as diverse as making machine parts, consumer products, clothes, and even organs. At CES 2015, companies were at it again trying to cultivate a market for the 3D printers themselves among consumers. 3D Systems showed off the CubeX printer by printing basketballs. Voxel8 showed that it could create fully functional electric circuitry. But perhaps it was XYZprinting who stole the show in this department. Their da Vinci Junior printer promises a $350 price point that makes it attractive to average consumers like nothing else. The company also found their way into the hearts of the IGN staffers by printing them edible pizza!

Other cool technologies shown off at CES include a Hidden MasterCardthat needs to be “unlocked” to show your personal information, a Samsung SSD hard drive about the size of a credit card, a thermal vision camera you can attach to your phone, an Intel processor module the size of a button, a freakishly cool Mercedes concept car mobile living room, an air vent that opens and closes based on temperature, and even a wooden touch screen.