The buzz surrounding the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was mixed. Some believe that the show has lost its charm, since many big tech companies now launch their products on their own timetable rather than premiering at the show (i.e. Apple, Google and now Microsoft). In addition to this, the online social sphere allows for easier promotion of products and interaction with consumers.
While there is no denying that the show is different than it used to be, it is still a great opportunity to showcase gadgets and innovations that may have otherwise not received a second glance. While the concept of CES may need to transition with the times, the tech industry (above almost all others) should be most able to adapt successfully.
Without further ado, I want to showcase just a few of the notable gadgets from this year's CES - some good and some that may make you think... "what?"
This touchscreen panel rises to create a 3D keyboard for your smartphone, tablet or gaming system. When not in use, the keys convert back into the flat screen. This technology allows users to have the streamlined look and feel that makes touchscreen so awesome, while increasing usability and bringing back the "physical" connection. According to Wired, the touchscreen is also customizable to mimic the feel of specific buttons - like the keyboard, TV remote or game controller. Definitely cool.
[caption id="attachment_3455" align="aligncenter" width="352"] Image via Tactus Technology[/caption]
While the prototype of this technology was introduced at the 2012 CES, it is so revolutionary that it deserves a spot on this list. According to Wired's Christina Bonnington:
"The system, available for developers now and in consumer products in the fall, lets you use your eyes as the mouse pointer. Your eye movements are matched to keyboard taps to do things like select or scroll through onscreen items. The result is a super-fast, seamless way to navigate computer interfaces."
This eye-tracking technology will change the next generation of digital products to allow for unprecedented ease of use. As Bonnington mentions, think of what this technology can mean for those with limited mobility that have previously been constrained by devices that require a physical touch.
The best technology is the kind that can not only provide usability or entertainment, but the kind that can make a positive impact on quality of life. The Tobii Gaze will be able to do just that.
[caption id="attachment_3468" align="aligncenter" width="409"] Image via Wired[/caption]
To be fair, it's not that these are "bad" technologies. Sure, they are new and innovative and I'm sure someone, somewhere may be thrilled that they now exist. However, while the following two gadgets caught my eye, I feel they would serve little useful purpose and have less likelihood of becoming mainstream among consumers. Let's see if these give you the "What? Why?" reaction that they gave me.
spnKiX, or "rocket skates" as the website touts, are essentially motorized skates that can run up to 10 miles per hour. The next generation's "Heelys" (the sneakers with the wheels), I can see spnKiX appealing to a young audience.
According to the website, "replacing your normal short distant commute or neighborhood grocery trips with spnKiX for just once a week can save you $300 in gas and can save the earth from almost 1 metric ton of CO 2 emissions in one year."Admittedly, that statement is pretty powerful.
I think we're all proponents for saving money and reducing our carbon footprint, I'm just not sold that this is a great way. Would you wear spnKiX?
[caption id="attachment_3471" align="aligncenter" width="443"] Image via Network Computing[/caption]
MondoSpider is literally just a giant mechanical spider that you can ride around in. According to Network Computing, "It's powered by hydraulics and lithium-polymer batteries, weighs 1,600 pounds and crawl creepily at about 5 miles per hour."
Full disclosure: I am not a big fan of spiders in general, and MondoSpider is no exception. While I don't think anyone is silly enough to think this is the "next big thing" in transportation, its lack of significance has landed it in this category. The concept is cool in the novelty sense, but useless for anything other than an appearance in the next Spiderman movie.
[caption id="attachment_3472" align="aligncenter" width="441"] Image via Network Computing[/caption]