From January 6-9 tech lovers from across the nation traversed to the Mojave Desert for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to catch a glimpse of the latest and greatest gadgets poised to shake the world in 2016. Here’s a brief look at some of the technology that blew our minds at CES 2016.
Consumer Grade Virtual Reality (VR) has Arrived
VR headsets have been teasing consumers at expos and electronics shows like CES for years. It looks like the long wait is finally over—the Oculus Rift can now be pre-ordered for $600, and if you were one of the lucky original backers on Kickstarter back in 2012, Oculus will give you a Rift for free. Even better for the emerging VR industry, there’s already a new competitor on the scene—the HTC Vive, which plans to start taking preorders on Leap Day, February 29. VR technology has come along way since the infamous Nintendo Virtual Boy of the 90’s marred its reputation, and it looks like 2016 is the year consumers will get the VR headset of their dreams.
LG OLED G6
The bar for 4K ultra HD TVs was raised (somewhat predictably) yet again by all the usual suspects—Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic. CES has always been known for bigger and better TVs, so you might wonder how a television could stand out among the robots, electric cars and drones on the CES 2016 showfloor. Feast your eyes on the LG OLED G6—77 inches of retina stunning 4K ultra HD on a 2.57 mm screen. Unlike their competitors, LG has stuck with an alternative form of display technology, organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and has been steadily refining the technology year after year. The primary advantages of OLEDs are the lack of a need for backlighting, and the ability to offer blacker blacks, whiter whites, and more vivid colors all around. For years, the technology lagged behind in resolution, performance in bright light, advanced features like HDR, and cost. In the last couple of years, LG has already shown it has closed most of these gaps, competing with the best 4K ultra HD TVs. The lack of a backlight allowed LG to reduce the thickness to almost an eighth of an inch, and the new HDR Pro allows the flat panel display to deliver mind-blowing realism to the consumer.
EHang Drone Copter
These days drone related news are expected from any major electronics show, so it should come as no surprise that a drone would make our list. But Chinese drone manufacturer EHang stunned the world when it revealed its car-sized drone copter. It’s not so much the size of the drone as the presence of a seat. The 184 only seats one for now, and if you were thinking it was already difficult enough getting a driver’s license, you’ll be glad to learn that the 184 is fully automatic. EHang has set its sights on public transportation. This allows EHang to avoid the technical challenge of incorporating complex computer augmented object detection systems for a comparatively simpler failsafe that lands the vehicle when it detects a damaged part or runs into an issue. EHang also places a major emphasis on safety.
Segway Robot Butler
Hoverboards were all the rage this past holiday season, and while many are dismissing this mode of transportation as a temporary fad; Intel and Segway have teamed up to bring you a robotic personal assistant who doubles as a mode of transportation, when you get tired of walking. Temporarily dubbed the Segway Robot, the robot butler resembles a cross between WALL-E and a more streamlined Segway. Its head contains a touchscreen that sports two adorable minimalist eyes and folds into itself when you’re using the robot as a scooter. Powered by Intel’s RealSense RGB-D camera and an Atom processor, the robot demonstrated an excellent sense of spatial awareness, depth perception and balance during Intel’s keynote address. Intel plans to ship open source developer kits in the latter half of 2016.
Electric autonomous vehicles used to be the stuff of science fiction. In the last decade they became a luxury. In 2016, at least two of these technologies are poised to become a reality for the middle class. Practical, affordable and comfortable! Meet the Chevrolet Bolt. 200 miles on a charge, 10.2 inch touchscreen on the dash, and 5 ergonomic seats. Has enough cup holders for the whole family, and yours for just $30,000. The Bolt won’t be available until 2017. Though, attendees immediately fell in love with the drivable concept car on the showroom floor. The concept can’t actually drive. The US company backed with billions of dollars in private Chinese money has big plans for a fleet of autonomous car. With the Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf soon to follow in a couple of years, it’s safe to say that the future of cars is electric.