What’s hot at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show? The buzz is rising around the latest in drones (yes, drones), the next generation of 4K Ultra HD TVs, cheaper 3-d printers, phablets and virtual reality along with wearable technologies.
For the uninitiated, a phablet is a phone-tablet hybrids. But you’ll learn all about them and lots of other new technologies at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show running from Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas, which brings more than 900 vendors to show off their advancements in technology to an estimated 100,000 viewers.
TheWrap got a look at what was generating early buzz:
While 4K Ultra HDTV’s are not new to the market, the anticipation is that 2015 may be the year these units become more affordable for consumers, and offer more content in 4K to give people a reason to upgrade. Currently priced out of the range of most consumers, the technology has been around for a few years now and is finally ready to make a push for the mass market.
Drone technology is generating tremendous heat with tech enthusiasts, in conjunction with the small action cameras that GoPro turned into an industry powerhouse. Companies like DJI and Parrot are looking to combine these technologies to create HD drone cameras for consumers. HD motion camera leader GoPro is expected to release a consumer drone camera as well, with some hoping to see some sort of announcement at CES from the company.
One of the hot buzz topics of the year will be wearable devices, with more designers offering functional accessories that are also fashionable. Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola are expected to debut their latest wearable technologies like smartwatches and fitness bands, but all of it will be done under the looming shadow of Apple’s forthcoming Apple Watch. The smartwatch is slated to drop in the spring and Apple, per usual, will not be making an official appearance at CES to promote it.
Meanwhile, Hyundai is expanding its BlueLink connected car platform to Android Wear watches, making its remote vehicle control more convenient than ever. Like they current can on their smartphones, users will be able to remote start, flash lights, unlock and lock their car and even find their car by sending its location to Google Maps.
With 3-D printing revolutionizing so many aspects of modern life, the burgeoning technology is marking an even bigger presence at CES with more than 30 3-D printing companies in attendance. With costs expected to drop in 2015 and consumers learning more about the myriad uses of 3-D printing — from creating toys and electronics to prosthetics and even clothing — 2015 could be the year of more mainstream acceptance of the new technology.
After impressing at CES 2014 with a prototype of its Oculus Rift, virtual reality goggles are looking to make a huge leap toward becoming a finished product, thanks to the backing of companies like Intel, Samsung and Sony. The key is to add more conventional apps to the over-the-head device that will move it beyond its early usage primarily in the video game sphere. One of the things being explored is its potential as the next level of digital communication with friends and family beyond video-chatting like Skype and FaceTime.
Meanwhile, a quieter battle will be taking place on the showroom floor where Samsung and others will be premiering new phablets, a hybrid of tablets and phones. Phone screens have been getting bigger, with the latest generations offering both larger display with sharper resolution. As consumers gravitate toward these hybrids, tablet designers and manufacturers will be looking for innovative ways for their devices to stand out and get noticed.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, music-based technology is still pushing forward with innovations of its own. With more and more people listening to music on their tablets and smartphones, companies are focusing on sound quality, to offer a superior listening experience. Rock legend Neil Young will be at the event helping Pono Player present its music player with the promise that it provides “the best sound anyone can get.”