Our technological future

Published: January 11, 2015 1:27 AM

Consumer products for the home ruled the roost at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS is all about fantasy, glitz and entertainment, but for a few days in January each year, it turns into tech heaven. Anyone who has any connection to technology heads to Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the place where companies put on show their latest products, which are really a prelude to where the future of technology is headed. By that yardstick, consumer products for the home seemed to have caught everyone’s fancy at CES 2015. Televisions are now all about 4K, the new buzzword, which basically means a new generation of TVs that have far greater clarity and colour resolution than we have seen so far.

As usual, the two South Korean giants dominated proceedings. LG showcased its OLED range, which is now entirely in 4K resolution with 55-, 65- and 77-inch models in both flat and curved designs. Samsung played up its SUHD technology, which uses nanocrystal semiconductors to deliver “the highest colour purity and light efficiency available today”. Samsung is also matching its Korean competitor with smart TV interface improvements called Tizen OS, which offers a range of new features for compatibility with other devices. Sharp went a step further, promising “the best viewing experience commercially available in 2015” with its Beyond 4K TV—a flat panel that utilises Sharp’s proprietary Quattron subpixel technology to deliver a billion more shades of colour and an image that “begins to approach 8K resolution”. Panasonic also announced a new range of TVs based on its new Life+ Screen smart TV platform with Firefox OS integration. Other highlights included:

Samsung Ativ Book 9: Samsung unveiled its new laptop, incredibly light and incredibly thin. Samsung’s laptop is 31-32% thinner and 12-29% lighter than Macbook Air. The 12.2-inch screen provides sharp text, rich colours and terrific contrast, and its Windows platform offers lots of bang for the buck despite being so light and thin. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 will start selling in March 2015 and there will also be a higher-end 256 GB/8 GB version.

Mercedes Benz F 015: This is a prototype, but it caught everyone’s eye at CES and could be the future of motoring, or at least luxury motoring. Called the Mercedes Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion, it is a driverless car, essentially an autonomous pod that can be switched to manual drive mode, but its main attraction is the incredibly spacious interior meant to provide a level of comfort that closely reflects living spaces. With swivelling seats that enable the front and back passengers to face one another, touchscreens running along the front and side panels, and gesture and eye tracking, the F 015 comes with some incredible technology. LED fields located at the front and rear of the vehicle communicate to others which driving mode the car is in, turning blue when autonomous and white when manual and being driven by a human. The car senses its location to the millimeter, thanks to Mercedes’

“Extended Sense” technology, which constantly monitors the car’s surroundings.

Torino Lamborghini 88 Tauri: After Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes and Aston Martin, here’s another sports car company that has raised the bar for branded luxury smartphones. The Torino Lamborghini 88 Tauri is an ultra-premium Android smartphone from the famed carmaker. It costs $6,000 and comes with a case that opens like a Lamborghini and a set of expensive-looking headphones. Options include nine different colours of calfskin leather over three treatments of stainless steel, including silver and genuine gold plating. Lamborghini says the company customised the glass covering the screen to be shatter-proof and scratch-proof—the same glass used in Lamborghini cars. The phone has just gone on sale and there will only be 1,947 models to commemorate the 1947 founding of Lamborghini.

Sony Life Space UX smart home concept: This is a major upgrade on an earlier version and goes way beyond Internet-connected power outlets: with video projectors that turn walls into screens, elegant LED-bulb speakers, interactive tabletops and a minimalist design language, the new Life Space UX is one of the most attractive smart home packages on the market—when it goes on sale that is.

Parrot Pot: It looks like an ordinary flower pot, but Parrot has come up with an ingenious solution to urban high-rise living. A Bluetooth-enabled pot can tell when your plant is thirsty and then water it for you. The tall white pot has built-in sensors that can read the level of fertilisation, temperature and level of moisture in the soil and notify you via Bluetooth when the plants need water. It will go on sale later this year.

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