January 18, 2016 by Ed Kennedy
7 CES products that showcase the promise of 2016
Sunday January 18 2015
CES Las Vegas has wrapped and many products indicate an exciting 2016 ahead.
The Consumer Technology Association’s Las Vegas event this year was looked upon with an extra-keen eye. Entering into the second half of the 10’s, the globe has seen at the edges of mass market some ‘game changing’ products in VR, drone flight, 3D printing and more for some time now.
This means an extra sense of ‘oomph’ was sought from this Nevada event to establish how close we are to getting some long desired futuristic gadgets. Let’s examine where and how it delivered.
Oculus Rift VR headset
Virtual reality has long been a feature of futuristic Hollywood films and predictions about the future but 2016 appears set to be the year VR is firmly moved into mainstream use. While brief flourishes and flirtations with the technology and mainstream adoption have occurred before – most notably during the mid-1990’s – the variety of VR featured at CES affirms this time it has the real potential for long term staying power.
From the entry level Google Cardboard all the way up to the Oculus Rift the diversity of manufacturers offers promise of both standout products and a healthy competition to grow interest in the VR industry. Of these, it appears the Rift has the greatest potential right now.
While the company caught some flak for the higher than expected price announcement of $599USD ($873AUD), with its history starting on Kickstarter, Facebook-backed ownership, and numerous developers seeking to bring content to the VR, its long term promise is solid.
Ehang 184 AAV
Year by year the globe gets smaller with lower airfares and more folks traveling to destinations near and far. In turn, from hobbyists on the weekend to professionals in full flight, drones are now officially big business. The Ehang 184 AAV offers the first combination of the two.
From the Chinese drone maker comes a private single-seater flying vehicle that has the capacity to be revolutionary. With a simple interface to choose your destination (alongside an easy take off ) the self-piloting 184 can reportedly carry a passenger up to 100kg for 23 minutes; and require just a 2 hour charge for each flight.
While this may be seen as the millionaire’s plaything to some, the potential for use as an ambulance to medics and other emergency services is truly exciting.
For those not quite ready to hop in a drone for a quick flight around the Parrot Disco may be your best fit. Requiring only a simple throw from your arm to take flight the drone is a gorgeous piece of design that can achieve flights of up to 70kms (45mph) an hour, and comes equipped with a 1080p camera. Most impressively, Parrot shall also offer first-person-view glasses with the Disco, meaning you can immerse yourself in the flight as it occurs.
What’s also notable about the parrot is the gorgeous and streamlined design. Black and white in the shape of a glider the Disco is reminiscent of a falcon. True drone’s perhaps need be functional in the first, but the Disco seems to point the way to a more stylish and cosmopolitan design coming to the fore as more and more folks make their first purchase of a UAV.
LG flexible OLED screen
Smartphones, laptops, tablets – and increasingly the products like the Samsung Note and Microsoft Surface that seek to be ‘hybrids’ between the two – have long offered a way to make our working lives more portable. A product like the LG Flexible OLED could be the next step.
A prototype 18 inch screen that can bend and roll from your touch, there is also the possibility this tech could be used as wall art, and as a temporary screen for use at meetings and events.
It need be noted these sort of products have been seen before – and are yet to make to market – but the possibility of a display you can fold up and store in your pocket means whenever a new prototype comes to market it shall always garner a high degree of attention. What’s more, with the LG Flex phone also a pioneering piece of technology, a core takeaway from this can be had that the South Korean company is committed to doing things different within the display sphere.
So, whether a flexible monitor, more work in the smartphone arena, or even in wearable tech – LG has certainly set the stage for an exciting 2016.
XYZ Da Vinci Mini 3D printer
Of all the technologies that could radically transform our daily lives perhaps none have such promise as the 3D printer. From the creation of society-altering things like prosthetic legs and organs for transplant, countless watch with great anticipation for the latest innovations in the field. Yet, perhaps the biggest shift shall come when – just like the early 1980’s saw computers from being university-owned equipment to entering people’s homes via models like the IBM PC and Apple II -the transition of the 3D printer to homes shall be the biggest shift; and that comes with a lower price entry.
On this, the Da Vinci mini may be the game changing printer. The Taiwan-based XYZprinting is set to sell this entry level printer for $269USD (around $392AUD) and in doing so offers the possibility of shifting the a 3d printer in the wider public’s mind from a specialist piece of equipment to an everyday gadget that’s a must-have for the home. While with a build envelope of 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches is it a smaller printer (though one equipped with Wifi connectivity and a slew of other features), this could prove to be a virtue overall as a easy, accessible and affordable ‘gateway’ for first-time users to more complex tech.
Cerevo Orbitrec 3D printed road bike with RIDE-1
Speaking of 3D printers, the world’s first 3D-printed road bike, the Cerevo Orbitrec offers the prospect of a perfect fit for each rider via custom order. Combined with the RIDE-1 sensor that features a slew of features with nine-axis sensors, GPS, Bluetooth – and also available for use on existing bikes – the Cerevo Orbitrec can lay a strong claim to being the first mass market SMART bike. Yet, perhaps in safety is this bike truly at its best.
The worst fear of anyone who cycles (save for a ‘total wipeout’) is being involved in an accident and being unable to call for help. While ideal to cycle with a buddy this is not always possible, and an accident when your alone can be even worse if there’s no way to call for help. By using the Orbitrec and RIDE-1 together with your smartphone you can monitor your performance on your bike as you ride – but also ensure a txt message is sent your a family member or friend in event you crash.
Once more, tech like this offers a window of what is to come. Imagine owning a bike like the Cerevo Orbitrec and being able to print a new part as necessary via a Da Vinci mini in your own home. Goodbye waiting for the part in the mail or having to trek to the bikeshop – you’re riding the next day. Perhaps not since two wheels were put together is such a development so exciting for cyclists everywhere.
New Kodak Super 8
The company that coined the phrase ‘Kodak moment’ has indeed seen better days. Yet, with the announcement of a new Super 8 the Rochester, New York business is seeking to embrace its glory years, and build anew with them. The original Super 8 first released in legendary in film circles having been an early format used by the likes of Hollywood giants JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. While the world races ahead with new tech just like classic cars the old camera brands of the world like Kodak and Agfa retain a following. Enter the Super 8.
Front of camera is a 6mm Ricoh lens (or a 6-48mm zoom lens optional) with each cartridge to contain 50 feet of film and a manual speed setting. Yet, though an affectionate ode to the past, the 2016 version of the Super 8 shall come with a digital viewfinder, USB connectivity for charging and intergrated microphone.
Finally, the handle atop the camera shall appeal to the current generation of skateboarders, longboarders, and other extreme sports lovers who wish to film their newest trick in the classic format. While the requirement to have the film actually developed could be viewed as a drawback for many people (though Kodak indicated it will digitise film on arrival and send a link via email to cut waiting times for your final copy sent in mail) the Super 8 could appeal to the filmers just as the Polaroid Socialmatic does to photographers; rarity making every moment behind the lens count.
Hearkening back to your past for future products can be a dangerous game – especially for a company with a market share that eroded due to its slowness in offering new tech – but given the iconic status and legendary patronage the Super 8 holds in film circles, Kodak may indeed have a winner here.
Some of these products like Ehang’s drone remain a while away from market, and even then at a price range that shall struggle to see wide adoption. On the other hand, VR equipment stands to make solid inroads within the consumer market within 2016.
What’s more, while VR headsets and LG monitors show the way we consume visual content is indeed changing, with Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now are also growing in popularity. Accordingly, the prospect of a great union between new hardware and streaming services is a exciting one. What shape this will take exactly remains unclear – but given the capacity of VR to be immersive and streaming services like Netflix to deliver rapid fire instantaneous content – the prospect of real time collaborations and greater audience interaction is an exciting one.
Ultimately, just like Apple did with the iPad tablet in 2010 – launching a product that has been available prior but in a far more user-friendly setup – 2016 offers the opportunity to see a number of the long discussed and dreamed of products finally make their way into everyday use.
While true new tech shall also come with new challenges as evidenced in drone regulation and the cyber security sphere, these issues ultimately appear small when contrasted with the immensity of opportunity on offer.
Therefore, for business, pleasure, and the world’s wider technological progress; its clear 2016 could very well be our best year yet.
Ed Kennedy is a journalist and web designer proudly from Melbourne, Australia. Say hi to Ed via firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Edkennedy01