CES is the world’s biggest tech show as hundreds of products are put on display in Las Vegas offering a preview of what is to come. Not all of the products make it to market as some are just ambitious prototypes ahead of their time while others are too niche to capture mass appeal. But each January, the conference does provide an inside look at what tech companies are working on and where they think the future is headed. This year that includes more electronic cars, VR, drones, wearables and connected devices, part of the Internet of Things.
Cars: Electric Brought to the Masses
Vehicles were certainly the talk of this year’s show, but one stood out in particular: Chevrolet Bolt EV. Several publications, including The Verge and Engadget, named the car as Best in Show as it is one of the first electronic cars to offer practicality and affordability. The Bolt EV, available in late 2016, can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge and costs around $30,000 after the federal tax credit. And the car’s interior setup, including its 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, can be personalized to each driver as they approach the car via their smartphone’s Bluetooth.
Internet of Things: The All-Knowing Fridge
Samsung unveiled several new appliances that can be a part of a connected home, but at the center of it all was its Family Hub Refrigerator (available in Spring 2016). The fridge’s 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen is meant to serve as a family’s command center with the ability to post calendar updates, notes, photos and more. The LCD screen can also show you exactly what is inside without opening the door. You can even view the fridge’s contents from your smartphone while at the grocery store.
Drones: Personal Flying Machine
Drone makers came out in droves at CES, but it was the EHang 184 that had everyone talking. This Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) is actually built to carry a human passenger on short to medium distance flights. It is 100% electric and can travel about 23 minutes on a single charge at a top speed of around 62 mph. It is also entirely automatic—just select your destination and enjoy the ride. The EHang 184 would need FAA approval in the U.S., but the Chinese company says it should be available sometime in 2016 for around $200,000 to $300,000.
Wearables: Safety First
The latest trend in wearables: Devices targeted to a more niche audience than just fitness enthusiasts. One example is WiseWear’s Socialite Collection ($395) of luxury smart jewelry, including three different pieces designed by fashion professionals. What makes them unique is a distress messaging feature—a single tap can send a discreet text message to a pre-approved list of contacts, along with a geo-tagged location and sound/video recordings from your phone to help further identify your location. Of course, the bracelets also track activity and can receive mobile notifications.
VR: Know Your Surroundings
Several VR companies made headlines at CES, including Oculus Rift finally announcing a price ($599) and release date (March 28). However, it was the HTC Vive Pre (expected in April 2016) that stole the show. Originally set to launch in 2015, HTC and Valve held it back for what they promised to be “a very, very big technological breakthrough.” At CES they revealed that to be a front-facing camera that can provide users with a better feel for their surroundings in the real world while they are in a virtual one—opening up the possibilities for room-scale VR.