This article titled “CES 2016: six things to look forward to this year (including the smart bra)” was written by Nellie Bowles and Danny Yadron, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 5th January 2016 06.00 UTC
When the Consumer Electronics Show first opened in 1967, it featured just 14 vendors and was dominated by televisions. Sony launched their first VCR there three years later, and, in the 1980s, Nintendo debuted its first games entertainment system on the show floor.
This year, 3,200 vendors will take over Las Vegas for a week for the technology industry’s pre-eminent trade show, offering the clearest window into a future in which everything, from your washing machine to your bra, has a computer chip. And there really is a vendor pitching a “smart bra”.
Through the massive halls, entrepreneurs show off experimental gadgets of the future; corporations have daisies with their latest mega-offerings, and small time vendors hawk trendy gifts. Last year, that would be selfie sticks; this year, hoverboards.
Cars have remained largely unchanged for the last hundred years, but in the last few months, the race to build a self-driving car and to perfect electric vehicle technology has truly begun. The competition that started in Silicon Valley with Google and Tesla has now galvanized Detroit behemoths like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Expect new technology to be unveiled around cars all week from both upstart companies and familiar names.
The tech around VR, which even die-hard fans had largely given up on, has taken off since Facebook bought Oculus last year. This year, with announcements from HTC, Sony and Oculus, the tech is seeing another leap toward being something consumers can afford and actually use. As for those uses: it’s for more than just porn, but porn might be first. Then gaming.
Sitting at computers all day is killing us, we know that. And we hope that gadgets that prod us into activity can reverse that. So far, health trackers haven’t taken off, with retention rates for most step-counting wristbands falling dramatically after a few months. But as the tech around smartwatches and health-aware clothing gets lighter, smarter and more fun, that might change. The key will be making health tracking fun (just as Slack has gamified work communication to great success). Maybe the makers of the XBoxKinect can make workouts fun with their new MyCloudTag app or Fossil’s Misfit health tracker can make them sexy.
CES may be full of gadget nerds, but it’s still in Las Vegas and the parties are a huge part of why tech executives – from middle managers to CEOs – fly in from across the world. Many conference attendees don’t even actually register for the conference, instead just showing up for the socials at nightclubs and private suites across the city. We’ll bring dispatches from the late-night scene.
The government and tech companies are already tracking almost all online behavior. This year, there’s new tech that makes it easier for parents and spouses to do the same. For a little more than $100, Canadian-firm Trackimo LLC will sell you a small GPS device that you can use to “track the things and the people we love the most, anywhere in the world.” We might suggest letting the people you love most know what you’re up to first.
It wasn’t so long ago that drones were the exclusive province of American spies. Now they’re a Christmas present, a would-be Amazon delivery driver and your personal videographer. There were four drone companies at last year’s CES. This year there are 33. Hexo+, Fleye and Mota all are pitching their own versions for those who want to watch more of themselves. The latest craze seems to involve small flying gadgets that automatically follow an owner and film them. Think of it as a dog with a GoPro.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday said his New Year’s resolution was to build a smart butler for his home that would recognize guests, keep an eye on his child and cue up Green Day, one of his favorite bands. Alternatively, the hacker whiz could just go shopping on the showroom floor this week. Bulgaria-based Allterco is marketing a home controller called She, a not-so-subtle reference to the software from the 2013 movie Her. Fibar Group, a Polish firm marketing more or less the same product, declares that “everything is connected” with its home automation system that connects to thermostats and smoke detectors. And Samsung is reportedly unveiling a refrigerator with a giant screen.
Representing the Guardian this week will be us, Nellie and Danny, two new recruits of the Guardian San Francisco bureau exploring all the nooks and crannies of 2016’s biggest consumer tech. Danny has volunteered to wear a smart bra for a day (Ed note: Danny says no, he did not). See you on the other side.
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