At last, 2016 has given way to the new year, and one can only wonder what this year’s “big thing” is going to be. Most of us will agree that we like new things; gadgets to play with, to improve our gaming setups for the gamers among us, to make our lives easier with new stuff! The first days of this year, the tech world was focused on one thing: CES 2017. This 50th edition of the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas every January allows any company big and small to present their inventions, innovative ideas and concept designs. Let’s take a quick look at a handful of things that popped out.
Before we move on, yes, we could get very excited about 8K televisions, foldable smartphones and self-driving cars, but why don’t we focus on things that are actually within the common person’s reach?
To link back in to 2016’s main hype, which was Virtual Reality in any shape or form, HTC’s Vive is soon getting its own subscription service within its store Viveport, allowing HTC Vive owners to find the best virtual reality apps available. Not only that, but games, videos and other content can also be accessed without explicitly being paid for. This is great for Vive-owners because it enables themto try out any form of content available on the Vive without paying for something you might not enjoy after you tried it. Next to this development, HTC is also expanding into an enterprise store, containing apps for medicine, design, 3D modelling and a lot more. Good for you, HTC.
Buckle up, because there are going to be thrown a lot of technical terms at you. You will see that it is totally justified soon, because it is needed to describe the next big announcement, my personal favourite: Razer’s Project Valerie, a triple screen gaming laptop. Yes, it is in fact a portable computer as we all know it, but it folds out its screens like a beautiful peacock to reveal the three 17 inch displays that are incredibly powerful graphically. It is in fact the first of its kind.
This is where the geek terms come in. Its hooked up to the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card needed to power this behemoth. Each display uses Nvidia G-sync technology to match the refresh rate and the output of the video card. Being just a proof of concept, it is not likely to be out for a while. The fact, however, that it has been done is amazingly exciting for gamers. It is totally okay if you’re not jumping up and down about this product. That probably just means that this is not the big thing you’re waiting for this year.
One item you might actually be waiting for is in fact a smaller item that was announced at CES 2017: the Sevenhugs Smart Remote. No, I don’t understand the brand’s name either, but the tech is actually really widely applicable. It is namely a remote that is supposed to connect to everything. “You just point at the device you want to control and that’s it”, says Simon Tchedikian in an interview with TechRadar. (Full interview below)
“So basically we built a 3D map of a room. You just locate your devices using the remote. Then you just need to point at it and it will automatically adapt the screen to show you the right screen for the device you’re pointing to.” Sounds interesting enough in a world full of remote controlled devices all equipped with a basic infrared receiver. Plus one for the couch potatoes.
Next up, there is a fun novelty both for the ultimate hipsters or simply a fan of photography among us: the Polaroid Pop has been announced to celebrate Polaroid’s 80th birthday. Most people reading this will not have ever gotten their hands on a genuine Polaroid camera. If I still have to explain to you what such a device is, you have probably not ever watched cartoons or old documentaries or talked to a photography enthusiast.
Anyway, the Pop is a small device that allows you to take 20 megapixel photos, print them on a 3 by 4 inch sheet of photo paper and keep them as a digital copy as well. Built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allows you to share the photo with anyone you’d like. If you really feel the need to capture more than one instant: yes, it comes with a Full HD 1080p video mode. Everything can be stored on a trusted old microSD card for later. More details in the video below.
Cameras are not the only pieces of tech that are ever improving. Processors have been exponentially improved over the past decades. Now, Qualcomm, who makes the Snapdragon processors, have announced their new 835. It is the most powerful processor they have ever made, clocking in at 2.45 GHz.
In case if that doesn’t mean anything to you, get this: the chip is also the slimmest they ever made, measuring in at 10 nanometers across, which is a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Being a lot more efficient in controlling your phone as well as power, it is not unlikely to be the driving force behind the upcoming generations of smartphones, especially the new Galaxy S8, since Qualcomm teamed up with Samsung in manufacturing it.
Taking a break from all those numbers, here is the Misfit Vapor smartwatch. Even though smartwatches are not something revolutionary that will characterise 2017, CES 2017 was the perfect stage for a beautiful new step of independency of this type of tech. Misfit has managed something we are all longing for deep down: to be able to ditch your phone somewhere at home and not worry about it for more than two seconds.
With the Vapor’s ability to stream music and use GPS without the need of a phone’s Bluetooth connection, gives you a new dimension of freedom. It connects to your Bluetooth headset or earbuds instead. With an internal storage of 4 gigabytes, you can stream hundreds of songs wirelessly on the go. It basically means you could very well go for a run with your favourite tracks to pace your steps on, keep track of your time outdoors and where you have been.
It’s 1.4 inch AMOLED touchscreen display gives you a great smooth and responsive way of interacting with your apps that are all Android based. For now, third party apps are not yet supported. The company would like to focus on the core experience before allowing people to tinker around themselves. All that without that gigantic phone in your jogging pants weighing you down. But it has more: heart rate monitor, real time activity tracker, sleep tracking and its water resistant up to 50 meters deep!
The smartwatch industry is one in which a design can get off really well, but is likely to be replaced rather quickly eventually. Take the relatively small company of Pebble. They’re great products, yet they were overtaken by companies that just make more advanced smartwatches, and now they got bought by FitBit. Still, this seems like a great alternative if you are not a fan of Apple’s or Samsung’s take on wrist fashion.
It would have been so great if this article would not have included a drone. That is so 2016, don’t you agree? Regardless of you inevitably agreeing, PowerVision’s PowerEgg certainly does not and you’ll be glad they don’t. That is why the last item in today’s list will be their new drone, which is an egg… that flies. Big whoop, I can hear you think. Well, yes, very big whoop! Drones have been a huge success for private use in 2016, because they allow for amazing aerial videos that normally would be reserved for those with a private hot air balloon.
Now, PowerVision has put an incredible amount of focus on customisation, portability and functionality. The facts that it houses a 4K UHD camera – which is a lot – which can rotate 360 degrees, and is collapsible into a neat little eggs shape where you don’t have to be as afraid to snap off a propeller, are serious game changers.
On top of that, they have added the Maestro: a gesture-based controller, making it even more intuitive, easy and fun to use. What about the customisation? They are going to sell custom skin to put over the neat surface of your PowerEgg. That way you can make anything fly, as long as there is a skin for it. This hard-boiled egg will only cost you 1288 USD.
Hopefully you will now have plenty of ideas to put on your birthday/Christmas/wedding/graduation wishlist. If you’re going to get a 1300 dollar drone to spend your days with after you have just received your degree instead of finding a nice job, is a question that you can answer. If the answer is no, don’t fret, there is still a lot more tech to be announced. At least 2017 is looking good so far.