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The Future Is Here!

Friday, January 17, 2014

It truly is! The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, which ended last week, gave us a peek into what the future holds for us. From wearable tech to 3D printing, there is a lot to look forward to in 2014. Dev Goswami & Priyanka Singh bring you some of the technology trends of this year and tell you what gadgets you should be able to lay your hands on in the coming months

There was a time when predicting what science and technology would bring to us was best left in the hands of people like sci-fi writer, Arthur C. Clarke. However, with technology becoming such an important part of our everyday life, we have companies organising conferences and events to give us a sneak peek into their future products. The mother of all these events is undoubtedly the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The most recent edition of which was held at the start of this month in Las Vegas, USA and showcased what technology will mean to us in the near future. Read on as we bring you some of the top tech trends of the year and also show you what gadgets are lined up for release in 2014.

Wearable tech

Wearable tech such as Google Glass and Samsung’s smart watch already received a lot of air-time last year. However, it is in 2014 that you’ll really see this segment flourish. It is, with out a doubt, the top tech trend for 2014. You can expect watches, fitness bands, sports gear and glasses with this trend. Keep in mind that this is a trend that almost all companies want to be part of and so, it is likely that you’ll see products that are sometimes ridiculous. But, don’t let that discourage you from the idea of wearable tech — some really good products are bound to come up in this category.

The internet of things
If we were to rank the tech trends of 2014, a connected home a.k.a. the internet of things, would come a close second to wearable tech. This trend is a top takeaway from CES 2014 and if you haven’t heard about it yet, let us explain what it means. The internet of things is a concept that connects everything that you could possibly imagine, and by that we mean everything. Your appliances, cars and even mattresses can be connected to the internet via built-in sensors and wireless connectivity chips. Some of the uses, ranging from brilliant to unnecessary, include mattresses which use sensors to give you the perfect sleep and you being able to send text messages to your refrigerator and washing machine. The ironic part is that while the internet of things actually does exist, we haven’t seen much of it because manufacturers do not really know what to do with it! Expect that to change this year.


Virtual reality
This is not a trend that everyone is talking about, but we still love the idea. Remember the movie Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over? The concept of your body existing in a virtual world so that you perform (or at least you think that you’re performing) actual physical movements which correspond in the virtual may not be a fantasy anymore with this trend. The Oculus Rift (more about it on pg 14), showcased at CES 2014, is a headset that allows you to look around in a virtual world by actually moving your head. This has the potential to completely change the way we play games or watch movies.

4K Ultra HD videos
4K Ultra HD videos and devices are making their way into consumer space and this year, a number of televisions that can display 4K (resolution of 4,000 pixels) videos are going to be coming into the consumer market. There are even several rumours that by the end of this year, smart phones will be totting the 4K display. While the tech of 4K videos has been there for a while, the problem was content — not the lack of it (there are a few movies shot in 4K and the upcoming FIFA World Cup is going to be filmed in 4K). But the delivery of this content is a problem as 4K videos and movies take up a lot of bandwidth and so, the necessary delivery infrastructure needs to be set up before 4K videos can become the norm. We know what you’re thinking — considering bandwidth speeds in India are already slower than other countries, 4K videos might be a distant dream for us. You might be right, but we’re hoping for the best. Fingers crossed!

3D printing
3D printing can’t really be described as a new ‘trend.’ The concept and even the actual technology for three-dimensional printing has been around for quite a few years now (fun fact: the first such printer was actually created in 1984!). However, the idea has been vastly underrated. What makes it a trend for the coming year is that the technology has advanced enough to make it marketable to the masses. We might soon have companies selling 3D printers for homes accompanied by a large database of downloadable and ready-to-print designs.

Car tech
With the speed of constant innovation in today’s world, it is curious, if not disappointing, that car manufacturers haven’t been able to make the most of this to give us highly equipped cars. However, that is set to change, as car technology was another big trend at CES 2014. As many as nine car manufactures marked their presence by showcasing cars equipped with laser lights, 4G connectivity, performance action cameras and featuring tight integration with Google apps, such as the Google Maps. The most interesting development in this category is of the infotainment consoles that can upgraded throughout the time you own your car — working, basically, like apps on your smartphones that you update or install new, better ones.

Watson the supercomputer
While it will be more than a few years before this actually has any effect in our daily lives, we just couldn’t help including this. Watson, for those who don’t know, is a super-computer developed by IBM. The ‘thinking’ computer can understand spoken and written language and has the ability to learn from its mistakes. It was the famous computer that beat human contestants on the game show Jeopardy. We’re talking about this is now because last year, IBM quietly put Watson in the cloud — giving developers across the world access to its abilities. That can translate into apps that use Watson’s to answer important queries in the fields of medicine and science.

Take a look at what new gadgets the year 2014 has in store for you. It is possible that you might not be able to lay your hands on all these gadgets in the coming months, but at least you can know what to expect

This is a tiny gizmo that can be attached to nearly anything and you will be able to know its location through GPS in case you lose it. It is scheduled to release in the US this summer. Here’s hoping that we get a worldwide release of this sooner rather than later.

The Scanadu Scout has been hailed as a gadget that will revolutionise health and fitness on a personal scale. While fitness apps or even devices aren’t new, the Scout takes analysing your vitals to such a level that it can actually help detect problems early on. All you need to do is hold this tiny gadget against your temple, where it will check your vital signs and then transmit information to your smartphone.

Get this out in the market already! The futuristic gadget is currently only available through exclusive invites. But, rumour has it that it will be launched this year.

While there were a number of smartwatches that were showcased at CES 2014 and more are certainly on the way, Razer Nabu has been winning accolades for its excellent function and sleek design. As far as what it can do is concerned — it can tell you who’s calling, read your text messages, give you your reminders and even keep a track of your fitness.

Building your own desktop has always been something that only engineers or hard-core gamers try their hand at. Also, with the pace of innovation, a new PC that you might buy right now might actually be old in the next six months. The ambitious Project Christine aims to do away with all of that. It features a modular CPU tower that has slots for peripherals such as video cards, memory, RAM and processors. This basically means that you can easily swap out components when newer and better versions are available. How cool is that?!

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is brilliant and all we are hoping for is that we can actually buy one this year and lose ourselves in the gaming world — up, close and personal.

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