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Tech Trends

CES 2018 saw an array of technology all set to aid a smarter tomorrow. A few of them caught our eye

Sennheiser HD 820: Sennheiser’s acclaimed HD 800 line of headphones had one flaw inherent to open-back headphones — they’d leak out almost as much sound as they’d pipe into your ears, but in the process, preserved the purity of the sound sans the unwanted resonances that most closed-headphones fall prey to. The HD 820 takes an innovative approach, by cupping the outside of each headphone with curved discs of Gorilla Glass to reflect the escaping sound back towards special ‘absorber chambers’ to minimise resonance. Cutting edge innovation at an eye-watering $2400 price!  

DJI Osmo Mobile 2: DJI’s Osmo smartphone gimbal doesn't pack its own lens or sensor; instead it stabilises your iOS/Android smartphone camera no matter how shaky your hands are, to turn out smooth, professional-looking videos. But at $299, it was simply too expensive to justify the outlay. The Osmo Mobile 2 fixes that, with a $129 price tag and nearly three times the battery life of its predecessor. Sign me up!

Lenovo Smart Display:  If CES 2017 was all about Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, CES 2018 saw Google quite literally everywhere with devices powered by Google Assistant, and the toast of town was the Lenovo Smart Display. Much like the Amazon Echo Show, the Smart Display is a voice-activated assistant, with a screen to show you supplementary information…like say a list of nearby eateries when you’re searching for restaurant recommendations, or pulling up a relevant YouTube video. If you are invested into the Google ecosystem, these 8- or 10-inch devices should slot right in.

Vuzix Blade AR Glasses With the glut of Alexa-powered devices, it was only a matter of time before she made an appearance in the smart glasses category. The Vuzix Blade augmented reality glasses allows wearers to ask for directions, the weather or use just about any other Alexa skill available to developers. The glasses themselves sit right in your field of view and offer a far more crisp and colorful experience than Google Glass, and if developers can blend compelling Alexa skills overlaid on your view of the world, these glasses have some serious potential.

L'Oreal UV Sense: Beauty tech at CES tends to be gimmicky, but the UV Sense from L’Oreal is beauty with purpose. The small, button-like UV and temperature sensor attaches to your fingernail (yes, it’s that small, and no, there’s no battery!) – and is capable of detecting ultraviolet exposure all day long. The sensor can store up to three months’ worth of data, communicates to a companion smartphone app whenever the wearer holds the device close to the smartphone. A big step for health and beauty, a giant leap for wearables.

Razer Project Linda:  One can count on Razer to deliver the most outlandish concepts at CES, but their 2018 offering is far more practical and likely to hit the market. The Project Linda prototype transforms the recently launched Razer Phone into a full-fledged laptop, with the phone acting as the brains of the device and doubling up as the trackpad. Besides adding a bigger screen and a full keyboard for users to interact with their Android apps, the Project Linda concept also provides extra storage, an on-board battery to charge the phone while it's docked, and some handy USB ports.

LG Rollable OLED TV: APaper thin TV screens that you can roll up and out of the way have been the stuff of fantasy for years, but the Rollable OLED TV prototype showed off by LG at CES is proof the tech is already here. At the push of a button, the 65-inch 4K TV can roll all the way down into its base for a discreet home theater look, adopt a narrower cinema-friendly aspect ratio, or unfurl part of the way to display information like the weather or calendar details.

Sony LSPX-A1 4K Projector: The Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector (LSPX-A1) looks like a piece of modern furniture, but it can project a 120-inch screen sitting just 9.6-inches away from the wall. Despite the impossible close distance, the 2,500-lumen projector offers support for HDR visuals, a 2.5 millisecond response rate, and an excellent 360-degree sound system built right into its coffee table frame. At $30,000 though, it’s not going to grace very many homes, but it’s a strong contender for the ultimate budget-no-bar living room cinema.

Nvidia Drive Xavier chip: Autonomous self-driving cars represent some of the most exciting consumer tech today, and despite all the fancy electric cars at CES, Nvidia stole the show with the brain that will help make any automaker’s self-driving goals a reality. It is a new system on chip called Nvidia Drive Xavier, a supercomputer packed into the size of a car license plate, which packs in 9 billion transistors, eight cores, a 512-core graphics unit, 8K HDR video processing and a 'deep learning accelerator'. All of these come together to take inputs from the car’s radar, lidar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors to deliver ‘level 5’ autonomy, the absolute pinnacle of self-driving technology!

Nvidia Big Format Gaming Display: It may look like a TV, but the Big Format Gaming Display from Nvidia is really a 65-inch gaming monitor for the most hardcore of gamers. It combines a 65-inch 4K HR-capable LCD display with the Nvidia Tegra X1 chip and Shield Android TV interface to offer a large gaming monitor with really low latency levels for intense gaming action. Perfect addition to your gaming den? I think so!

Byton Concept Car: Byton’s electric SUV concept, due to hit the US in 2020, was one of the glitzier cars on show at CES, and its most striking feature was the gigantic 40-inch Shared Experience Display that runs the width of the entire dashboard and packs in facial recognition for driver profiles, gesture based infotainment/climate and media control. One for the auto and gadget nerds alike!

Synaptics Clear ID fingerprint sensor:  In-display fingerprint sensors are expected to be a big trend in 2018 and at CES, Vivo showed off the first working smartphone with the fingerprint reader built into the display. Behind it was a Synaptics optical sensor that sits right under the display and scans through the gaps of the OLED pixels to recognise the unique pattern that is your fingerprint. Embedding the fingerprint sensor into the screen frees up space on the front of your phone, allowing for all-screen designs without having to rely on iffy face unlock methods.

The Wall by Samsung: In a bid to end the discussion on the biggest TV around, Samsung took a big leap forward by introducing The Wall at CES 2018, a modular TV that uses MicroLED tech — the sort you see in large commercial signs, but with much tinier 0.8mm pixels — to create a massive, bright picture. And since each of the individual 4K panels are virtually bezel-free, you can stack several TVs side by side to customise your TV to a massive 146-inches (or any practical size, really)!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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magazine 3 february 2018 tech trends

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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