Technology reporters and enthusiasts converged on Las Vegas last week for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Held annually, CES is an opportunity for tech manufacturers to showcase products they’ll be selling in the new year, as well as prototypes and research into the future of tech.
CES spans the entire universe of technological innovation, from the useful — the compact disc player debuted there in 1981 — to the strange, such as a children’s potty with an iPad dock attached, seen at this year’s show.
Here are some of the most talked-about products and projects seen last week at CES:
Televisions with cutting-edge technology have become fairly commonplace at CES, and while last year’s sets showcased 3D capabilities — which consumers have been slow to adopt — this year companies refocused their efforts on picture quality.
Emerging technology called ultra high definition television was on display last week at nearly every TV manufacturer’s booth.
Created with the goal of achieving larger-than-life picture quality, ultra HD sets have display resolutions at least twice as high as existing high-definition TVs.
Many of the ultra HD televisions showcased last week use organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), a new type of display technology that eliminates the need for a TV set to have backlighting. It could eventually lead to paper-thin televisions, manufacturers say.
LG Electronics announced last week at the show that it would roll out a 55-inch OLED television for sale in March.
At just 5 millimeters thick, LG said its OLED TV will retail for $12,000. Expect prices to drop gradually over time, as they have with other high-definition sets.
Samsung showed off a couple of prototype phones last week at CES using the same OLED technology that television manufacturers are putting in the sets of tomorrow.
OLED screens can be bent, folded or even rolled up without damaging the display. Samsung demonstrated the possibility by building its prototypes with displays that wrapped around the edges of the phones.
Samsung’s vision is that a user of one of these phones could see notifications or alerts on the side of the device while it lays flat on a table, so a user wouldn’t have to pick up the device to respond to an alert.
While the more practical idea of this technology will be the possibility of unbreakable screens, Samsung showed a video during its CES keynote presentation of a tablet computer that folds like a wallet and another pocket-sized device that rolls out like a scroll.
Samsung has been working on flexible-screen technology for some time, but there’s no word on when it will be brought to market.
New mobile game system
Touchscreen mobile devices have become the biggest growth area for the video game industry, and graphics company Nvidia took this year’s CES as an opportunity to begin carving out a place for itself in that market.
Nvidia last week unveiled to show attendees its Project Shield, a gaming system comprised simply of an Xbox-like controller with a 5-inch touch display attached.
The system’s components are housed within the controller, which runs the Android operating system found on many smartphones and tablets.
Though Shield is still being developed, the device should give gamers the ability to play and use a whole host of Android-based games and apps when it is released.
Nvidia said it will also be possible to stream games from a nearby PC to the Shield via wireless, similar to the remote gameplay feature found in Nintendo’s new Wii U console.
Nvidia said the Shield would go on sale in early summer; pricing has not yet been announced.