Reflections on CES 2014

As another new year rolls in, it can only mean one thing. Yes, the consumer technology world descending on Las Vegas once again for the ultimate industry showcase: CES 2014.

Having been a staple in the technology industry since 1967, the show attracts more than 3,200 exhibitors and around 150,000 attendees. Many of the technologies we take for granted today (and some we have even forgotten about!) were first unveiled at the show. There was the VHS Recorder in 1970, the CD player in 1981, the Xbox in 2001 and the 3D TV in 2009.

So did this year have a lot to offer..? Of course it did. This is CES!

The biggest trend of the 2014 show was undoubtedly connected technology. Essential household items such as fridges, washing machines, and vacuums which connect to the internet were all demoed. A connected toothbrush even made an appearance. If you’re rushing out of the house and forget to turn the TV and lights off, then Samsung announced a solution which connects a home’s gadgets and appliances to its smart watch. LG and Archos also showed similar technology. Of course, privacy issues have been raised, as many have asked what happens with the data collected from these devices. For this reason, it remains to be seen if it will truly take off, so let’s see.

Wearable tech was one of the buzz words of 2013, and the hype definitely continued this year. Taking note from the big players like Sony and Google, companies like Vuzix displayed its own Smart Glasses, and Burg displayed a range of smart watches. But wearable technology isn’t just for us humans. Virginia based company i4C debuted a smart collar for the canines of the world, which can measure their heart and respiratory rates, and also counts calories.

TVs always make the headlines at any consumer trade show, and this year’s CES was no exception. The last few years have seen an explosion of flat HD TVs, but now it seems like curves are well and truly in (Yes! – scream the females of the world). LG and Samsung both unveiled curved 4K screen TVs, arguing the curvature enhances the viewing experience. Elsewhere, Philips announced a new Android operated TV and Yahoo introduced the next version of its Connected TV platform. This new update includes the Yahoo Smart Guide which learns from viewers habits in order to make programme recommendations.

Overall, this year’s show was rather quiet on the mobile handset device front, but that’s not to say there were no developments. Following the launch of the Xperia at last year’s show, Sony unveiled the Xperia Z1 compact. And, not to be outdone by Apple’s iPhone 5S fingerprint scanning technology, Samsung revealed it is exploring the possibility of eye-scanning security technology for the S5.

For those into their automotive technology, the show did not disappoint. BMW demonstrated the 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe driving themselves around bends. Toyota also demoed something similar, and Bosch unveiled a smartphone-controlled self-parking technology. Having just failed my driving test due to the parking (yes, you read that correctly – the parking!) I think it would be wise to invest in this tech down the line!

Of course, CES wouldn’t be CES without the weird, wonderful and wacky gadgets, or the celebrity appearances (personal favourites include the electronic fork from last year and Lady Gaga’s show stopping appearance on behalf of Polaroid in 2011). Not to outshine the connected toothbrush, this year’s event included 3D food printers and a robot grill cleaner. Perhaps the most high profile appearance of 2014 was from Pearl Harbour and Transformers director Michael Bay. He was there to present the unveiling of Samsung’s curved TV, but a bout of stage fright came over him and he ran off after the teleprompter failed. It’s safe to say he’ll be staying behind the camera next time.

Anyhow, aside for the dramatics, this year’s event did not disappoint. Of course, a lot of the products demoed at CES never hit the market for one reason or another. However, the show has certainly set a precedent for the next 12 months of consumer technology. For now, it looks like the world will continue to become even more connected. Roll on CES 2015!

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