5 Cool Things from CES 2014

By Phill Powell

Press, dealmakers and consumers pack the show in search of the next big tech.

CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show as it’s officially known, showcases the latest in technology.

More than 3,200 exhibitors have gathered this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center to show off “life-changing tech” at a trade show that is reported to be the largest in history, with more than 2 million net square feet of exhibits and displays.

While big-screen 3D TVs may have been the stars of previous shows, this year’s CES focuses on how much technology will impact modern living in the very near future.

Sure, big-screen TVs (namely, 4K televisions) are still drawing crowds, but the real noisemakers here are all part of what the press are now calling The Internet of Things. What’s “The Internet of Things”? Think of a watch that alerts you about a dentist appointment, or a refrigerator that texts you when you’re out of milk. These Jetson-aged gadgets are closer to reality than you think:

Wearable Tech
Pebble-Steel-smartwatchStylish wearable tech like Pebble’s new Steel smartwatches combines cool functionality with killer looks.

Why It’s Cool: Wearable tech – analysts tell us – will revolutionize our lives in the same way smart phones have revolutionized personal communication. Think clothing items and accessories that pull double duty as electronic devices. The category includes solar-powered jackets (with embedded LEDs that dance to your iTunes), hats that contain mini audio speakers, ear buds that automatically select music based on your present heart rate, and Dick tracy-style wristwatches that work with your smartphone. And while the world holds its breath waiting to find out about Apple’s iWatch, there’s already lots of wearable tech on display this week at CES, like the Pebble Steel Smartwatch

The Pebble was the first of the smartwatches (with sales topping 300,000 units) and in some ways has the best functionality, at least so far. Now it’s also sporting cutting-edge style, starting with its stainless steel band and casing (a step up from the original’s plastic casing) and a slick, redesigned high-tech face.

The Internet of Things
Nest-ThermometerMake it one degree warmer from thousands of miles away…with Nest Thermometer, on display this week at CES.

Why It’s Cool: Connected devices like the Nest Thermostat put you in control of tech…from anywhere. The Nest, for example, allows you to control your home’s temperature by using only your iPhone or iPad. For $249, Nest Thermostat replaces your standard thermostat control and gives you a true remote-control heating/cooling system, anywhere you’ve got a connection to the Internet.

Nest has been around for a year or so, but it was one of the first devices to sell the trend (“the Internet of Things”) that aims to make household devices both more aware and more interactive. Nest also makes a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm called the Nest Protect that works much the same way.

Ultra HD & 4K TVs
Samsung-110inch-UHDKing of the Big Screens is Samsung’s 110-inch ultra HD TV, which contains more than 50 square feet of brilliant resolution and color you could eat with a spoon.

Why It’s Cool: Size and resolution matter when television’s the topic, and this year’s CES features not only the clearest and brightest TVs, but also the world’s largest HD TV. Samsung’s 110-inch Ultra HD TV is a monster: the 8.5 feet wide by 5.9 feet tall screen generates more than 50 square feet of viewing area – all of it in sparkling UHD resolution. There aren’t many more details to share about it yet, including its price, but you can expect it to cost a pretty penny: a slightly smaller 4K model from LG was recently priced around $70,000.

Smart Building Materials
Dynamic-GlassInteriors everywhere are becoming cooler (in several ways) with Dynamic Glass tinted glass.

Why It’s Cool: You’re familiar with those popular eyeglasses, whose lenses turn lighter or darker, depending on present lighting? Dynamic Glass from View uses the same concept. With Dynamic Glass, a building’s windows change tint throughout the day, making it possible to keep a better grip on heating costs (No need to turn on the expensive AC when your windows can keep the room cooler by filtering out heated sunlight!)

Better (and Smaller) Microchips
Intel-Edison-chipIntel’s new Edison chip will help power a whole fleet of helpful and interactive “Nursery 2.0″ devices for parents.

Why It’s Cool: Intel’s clearly embracing “the Internet of Things” through its new Intel Edison Chip (which will be available around mid-2014). The Edison chips have been designed to help power helpful future devices, such as Intel’s “Nursery 2.0” product line, all of which use Edison chips. These products include a cute toy frog that transmits data about an infant’s condition to the baby’s parent by displaying it on the LED display of a parent’s coffee cup. Another example: a device that starts warming up more baby formula as soon as it detects crying.

Drones are being used for all kinds of purposes, and may soon be delivering packages for outfits like Amazon. This drone puts on a show for photographers at CES.

CES Today, Your House Tomorrow
The Consumer Electronics Show occurs each January in Las Vegas, but the companies who present their wares at CES work all year on their technology. Programmers and app developers are hacking robots, drones and other devices to take technology to a whole new level – and you can too. Explore programming, robotics, filmmaking, game design, app development and more – this summer at Digital Media Academy, the world’s world’s best tech camp. Who knows? Your creation might be the star of CES 2025!