Las Vegas was abuzz with more than just avid gamblers between 6 and 9 January 2016 as the Consumer Electronics Show (now officially known as CES), one of the world’s biggest tech exhibits, reeled in gadget fanatics and smart appliance enthusiasts from all over.
Naturally, the exhibition floor was filled with futuristic car technology, super-thin televisions, clever cameras and wearable fitness trackers, but there were a number of other weird and wonderful concepts too. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite tech ideas to come out of the show below:
1. a translator necklace
Ili is a neat little device that serves as the world’s first wearable translator that helps travellers to converse with foreigners across language barriers. The neckpiece, which currently supports English, Chinese and Japanese, translates words instantly without using the internet so you’ll never again end up at a library when you ask for directions to the loo.
2. wireless charging systems
If innovative company Ossia’s Cota system gets off the ground you will never have to think about charging your phone or remote control again. This genius creation delivers targeted wireless power to any device within an average-sized room (in the future it’ll transmit energy across an entire home), so you can watch your electronics charge up without being connected to any cables – it’s almost like magic.
3. printed latte art
Using clever printing technology the Ripple Maker machine prints an intricate high-res image or line of text on the foam that tops your regular coffee, taking latte art to an incredible new level. There’s an option to select an image from a content library or to create your own design, and we should start seeing the machine in overseas cafés from late 2016.
4. virtual reality for the average joe
Virtual reality headsets were a big trend at CES 2016, with Oculus opening up pre-orders for its Rift head-mounted display and HTC launching the second generation of its Vive headset, which can be pre-ordered from 29 February 2016. What this means is that average consumers – at least those who have the money – can soon more easily access virtual worlds.
5. live audio curating system
Remarkably the Here Active Listening in-ear audio system allows you to curate and control real-world sound. With two wireless earbuds and a smartphone app, you can adjust the volume of your audio environment, attenuate treble or bass, filter out certain frequencies and add effects like echo. It’s like having an in-built hi-fi system that allows you to personalise and enhance listening experiences – live concerts will never be the same again.
6. affordable all-electric vehicles
Amongst the myriad impressive auto technology developments showcased as CES was Chevrolet’s 2017 Bolt EV, which is considered the first affordable, practical all-electric vehicle on the market. The car can travel more than 320km per charge and will hopefully revolutionise sustainable transport. It should be available from late 2016.
7. a smart showerhead
The Hydrao concept is not entirely mind-blowing but it is a very relevant tech invention considering the water scarcities we’ve been experiencing in South Africa. This showerhead is embedded with a hydroelectric micro-plant that warns you about how much water you’re using by shining different coloured lights for different volume thresholds (a green light indicates that 10 litres has been used, for example). You can even connect it to your smartphone so you can track consumption and savings.