Ev­ery year thou­sands of ex­hibitors, re­tail­ers and tech en­thu­si­asts de­scend on Las Ve­gas for the an­nual Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show (CES). This an­nual dig­i­tal pil­grim­age is a chance to en­joy an ad­vance pre­view of cut­ting-edge prod­ucts be­fore they hit the mar

Qatar Today - - DEVELOPMENT - By Damian Rad­cliffe

Although CES sel­dom un­veils ex­am­ples of con­sumer tech­nol­ogy which are wholly un­ex­pected, it does nonethe­less excel in help­ing to turn ab­stract tech trends into nascent dig­i­tal re­al­i­ties. Through this, we can get a real glimpse of how tech is go­ing to change the way we live in the next 5-10 years. Here are five key things we learnt from CES 2015:

In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity is go­ing to be ev­ery­where

The In­ter­net of Things – a world of mas­sive ma­chine-to-ma­chine com­mu­ni­ca­tion – is set to trans­form our world as we wel­come con­nected ob­jects such as smart watches, con­nected TVs and web-en­abled mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems into our lives.

Cisco's Vis­ual Net­work­ing In­dex ( VNI) Global Mo­bile Data Traf­fic Fore­cast re­ported last year that by the end of 2014, the num­ber of mo­bile-con­nected de­vices would ex­ceed the num­ber of peo­ple on earth, and that “there will be over 10 bil­lion mo­bile-con­nected de­vices by 2018, in­clud­ing ma­chine-to-ma­chine (M2M) mod­ules—ex­ceed­ing the world's pop­u­la­tion at that time (7.6 bil­lion)”.

Wear­able tech­nol­ogy op­tions are grow­ing, but it is still a niche mar­ket

Wear­ables are one of the ar­eas where this 24/7 mo­bile-en­abled con­nec­tiv­ity is likely to have the big­gest im­pact.

Although wear­able tech­nolo­gies like Google Glass, Fit­bit and Pebble are still rel­a­tively new con­cepts, they are al­ready quite well known among dig­i­tal en­thu­si­asts and early adopters. As a re­sult, they en­joy a me­dia pro­file which some­what over­looks the fact that they are still quite spe­cial­ist prod­ucts.

Glob­ally, Cisco es­ti­mates there were c.22 mil­lion con­nected wear­able de­vices in use dur­ing 2013.

Jump for­ward to 2018, how­ever, and this mar­ket is ex­pected to have grown eight-fold to 177 mil­lion. At an an­tic­i­pated com­pound an­nual growth rate of 52%, this is a sec­tor which many in­dus­try ex­perts think looks set to ex­plode.

All eyes are now on the forth­com­ing

Ap­ple Watch to re­ally see if the main­stream po­ten­tial of the mar­ket will be re­alised.

Dig­i­tal health mon­i­tor­ing is go­ing to be­come more so­phis­ti­cated

Wrist-based wear­ables have tended to dom­i­nate this bud­ding in­dus­try, so it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore this type of tech­nol­ogy moved to other parts of the body.

Sen­so­ria's smart­sock – which was ex­hib­ited at CES and be­gins re­tail­ing next win­ter – was a high-pro­file ex­am­ple of a po­ten­tial new mar­ket in the wear­ables arena.

Us­ing sen­sors em­bed­ded in the soles of their spe­cial­ist socks, data is then sent to a re­mov­able an­klet and synched to your smart­phone. Through an ac­com­pa­ny­ing app, run­ners can then use this data to mon­i­tor how their feet hit the ground. Sen­so­ria claims that by record­ing your tech­nique in this way the risk to in­jury can be re­duced; and run­ning tech­niques (as well as run­ning times) can be im­proved.

And if that all sounds a bit too ac­tive, then don't worry; tech­nolo­gies de­signed to help im­prove our sleep are also in­creas­ingly in abun­dance.

It's an area where there is a huge amount of in­ter­est, a fact best ex­em­pli­fied last year when the 22-year-old Bri­tish en­tre­pre­neur James Proud at­tracted $1.3 mil­lion for his sleep prod­uct, Sense. Us­ing the popular crowd­fund­ing web­site Kick­starter, he raised this sum in just one week. His rather more mod­est am­bi­tion had been to raise $100,000 over four weeks.

Cap­tur­ing data via a clip at­tached to your pil­low, as well as the in­evitable mo­bile app, Sense joins the smart­sock in be­ing part of a small and em­bry­onic group of wear­ables that no longer need to be worn at the end of your arm.

Con­nected cars are com­ing sooner than you might re­alise

Out­side of the home, Google's self-driv­ing car has at­tracted con­sid­er­able pub­lic­ity in re­cent years.

But, it was Mercedes who grabbed the at­ten­tion of CES show-go­ers when its self-driv­ing F015 drove it­self onto the con­fer­ence stage.

Mean­while, both VW and BMW showed that ges­ture-based con­trols aren't just go­ing to be con­fined to your games con­sole. Their fu­ture in-ve­hi­cle in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems will soon be mo­tion con­trolled, mak­ing re­dun­dant even rel­a­tively re­cent in­no­va­tions such as touch­screen dash­boards. Th­ese in-car sys­tems will also be com­pat­i­ble with ei­ther your An­droid or Ap­ple smart­phone, al­low­ing you to run the same apps through the car's in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem as you do on your hand­held de­vice.

VW also un­veiled plans for self-park­ing cars, build­ing on a sim­i­lar an­nounce­ment by Volvo in 2013, whereby your car au­to­mat­i­cally drives off (you don't need to be in­side) to find a park­ing space. Af­ter you've fin­ished what­ever it was you needed to do, you can then call your car back to your lo­ca­tion via the oblig­a­tory smart­phone app. Such an idea may seem rather fan­ci­ful, but in a decade it may come as stan­dard with many car mod­els.

Your HD TV is al­ready out of date

Fi­nally, in the home it looks as though 2015 may be the year that Ul­tra-high-def­i­ni­tion (UHTV) goes main­stream. The tech­nol­ogy has been around for a while, but in many cases it has strug­gled to make it into the living room.

Some­times re­ferred to as 4K, the pic­ture it of­fers is four times as sharp as stan­dard high def­i­ni­tion. But take-up has been slow due to an age-old co­nun­drum: man­u­fac­tur­ers won't mass pro­duce af­ford­able sets un­til they be­lieve that there's enough 4K con­tent for view­ers to en­joy, and me­dia pro­duc­ers won't shoot - or dis­trib­ute - in that for­mat un­til they de­ter­mine that there is a crit­i­cal mass of de­vices ca­pa­ble of watch­ing it on.

In the fu­ture we may de­ter­mine that 2015 was the tip­ping point for both par­ties.

At­ten­dees at CES re­ported see­ing plenty of 4K HDTVs, com­puter mon­i­tors, and cam­eras this year; whilst YouTube an­nounced that it now has 26 part­ners show­ing 4K stan­dard con­tent as stan­dard. And as broad­band con­nec­tions get faster, and more house­holds mi­grate to fi­bre con­nec­tions, you can ex­pect to see more pro­grammes like House of Cards in 4K, as com­pa­nies like Net­flix will in­creas­ingly dis­trib­ute shows in that for­mat.

As for the in­dus­try it­self, at­ten­tion is al­ready be­gin­ning to fo­cus on 8K. I was for­tu­nate enough to see a demo in Am­s­ter­dam last Septem­ber, and it will be shown for the first time in the re­gion at the in­au­gu­ral IBC MENA Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion which was held in Dubai at the end of last month. The pic­ture is dis­cernibly sharper, per­haps too sharp for some but, as CES con­sis­tently shows, tech­nol­ogy marches to its own beat. And you're of­ten help­less to stop it

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