As part of DG MediaMind's Innovation Team, I was lucky enough to visit Las Vegas for the annual technology gadget overload that is CES. This year's show had a record-breaking exhibit space of 1.92 million square feet and over 150,000 folks attended. Out of all of the insanity, we spotted some exciting new trends that will shape the way we live in the not-too-distant future.
The Phone That Never Dies: Fully Charged with Qi
Until we can get through several days of a show like CES without charging up, we'll constantly be looking for a better method for charging. Enter Qi (pronounced chee). This is a newish wireless charging standard that Nokia and HTC have included in recent mobile phone releases.
Imagine your phone charging magically by just placing it on your coffee table or even in your car's cupholder. No more wires. No more cords, adapters, or charging stations. TDK is rolling out a Bluetooth boombox that even has a Qi plate so you can charge devices while jamming out. Since Apple may not ever enter the Qi party, aftermarket manufacturers have embraced the technology, and I was able to test a few cases that brought Qi charging to my iPhone 4s. It was simple and easy, plus it gave me a few more percentages to breathe life to my nearly dead device.
And while it didn't use Qi, it is worth noting Qualcomm's wireless charging mat for an electric Rolls Royce. Cars are a mobile device, right? Imagine pulling into your garage and it charges up automatically. Again no plugs, connectors, or popping the power hatch - vehicle wireless charging...at least for the .01% (for now).
3D Printing: Print a Pizza for Dinner?
Printing isn't just for boring documents anymore. There's a huge growth of companies rolling out 3D printers - around every turn I was greeted by a freshly printed robot, deer head, life size human skull, or even an electric guitar. It's nice to see some experimentation beyond plastics and into metals, and even edibles!
It will be exciting to see how 3D printing expands beyond the "makers" and hobbyists and into the mainstream. I foresee a future not too far off where my son can buy a new Lego set online and print it out at home. Or maybe it's my sister printing out a pizza for dinner.
We had a flip from brick and mortar stores to online shopping, and very soon we'll enter a new phase where we can design, build and buy just about everything online and immediately have the object in our hands. Going into a store, next day delivery, or even delivery in 30 minutes or less will be a thing of the past.
Vapour Touchscreens and Smartphones Dipped in a Drink?
You've heard of a smoke screen, you've heard of touchscreens, what about a touchscreen made of vapour? Kudos to DisplayAir for one of the coolest pieces of technology at the show. What I liked about the vapour touchscreen more than a pure gesture or camera-based approach (which were oddly missing from CES as far as I could tell) was the fact that even though you weren't touching anything, you felt something as your fingers glided through the mist. And because it was projected on a fluid "screen" it felt 3D-like.
I'm not sure everyone will have one of these in their homes, but this type of novel approach does open some possibilities for how a user can interact with an interface. Plus it ties in nicely to all this working in the cloud talk.
Going from air to water is something of a lifesaver, or rather a device saver for many of us. HZ0 has come up with a way to block water and moisture in electronics. By nano-coating devices, they are impermeable to water - whether it in the air, a splash, or even completely submerged. I witnessed iPhones and Androids dunked into water (and beer!) that keptshowing video or playing audio while underwater. Luckily, my smartphone has always stayed dry, but I have plenty of friends whose phones have gone swimming in pools or toilets. It's great to see a solution that doesn't involve putting your device in a waterproof bag.
Multi-view TVs: TV for Two
The absolute highlight of the show was the multi-view 3D TVs. Imagine sitting on the sofa next to your significant other, and instead of one of you having to suffer through the other's favourite show - you are each watching a completely different program. Same TV, two different shows. If that sounds awesome, it's because it is.
Or what about playing a game? Why settle on a split-screen for each person, when each player can view their own player on the screen?
Aha! Working in advertising technology, I started to get inspired. Imagine taking this beyond just content and looking at ads, or even product placement. Think about today's ad management systems that can dynamically adjust the ad content shown to a given user now potentially including user profiles based on the pair of 3D glasses in use, the mobile device ("second screen') that a viewer could be using, visual recognition, or even a combination of all of these factors. Yes, this may mean I may never see another feminine hygiene ad and my vegan wife may never have to see another meat product advertised. Brilliant!
Coupled with the new 4K/Ultra HD quality TVs, you've got realer than real life video that not only has the high quality but also the hyper-relevancy to each consumer.
Let's hope that all that was shown in Vegas, doesn't just stay in Vegas and we start to see these new products and technologies available sooner rather than later.
I can't wait to print out my pepperoni (insert favourite flavour) pizza for dinner.
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