Like everyone in the AV Industry, indeed anyone interested in technology, we here at Inspired Dwellings have been eagerly monitoring the developments of this year’s 2013 International CES, Las Vegas. Despite the overwhelming absence of Industry big dogs Microsoft and Apple, the Consumer Electronics Association’s proved to be the biggest event yet, drawing in 150,000 attendees, 3,250 exhibitors, and 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space. With the absence of the more traditional Industry bodies, this year’s showcasing was a sure indicator that tablets and smartphones are fast outdating pcs, laptops and netbooks. Even big player Google, was feeling the pressure as Android continued it’s assault on the app-oligopoly (sorry) that is the new technological battlefield.
As a relative newbie to the technology scene and (dare I say it) perhaps partly because I’m female, very rarely do I get excited about the size of a TV screen. However the sheer scale and range of products at this year’s CES meant that even I couldn’t fail to be impressed and, yes, even excited about the future of home technology.
OLED TVs (standing for Organic light-emitting diodes) are set to corner the Home Cinema market with their Razor thin screens and super sharp image quality.
Sony began by highlighting their new 56” 4K screen (read: HHHHHD) even as Korean giants Samsung displayed an OLED Screen, which allows two people to watch two different programs on the same screen – at the same time. As impressive as the concept is, I can’t help thinking the increasing size of modern home screens make this release more of a join the dots necessity than innovation.
But here’s the best bit. Unlike their LED counterparts which have to be laid down on flat glass substrates, OLEDs can be laid on more flexible glass or plastic screens, allowing for the unique possibility of curved screens. Whilst OLEDs have been drifting round the edges of technology for a while now (initially working best for smartphones and smaller screens), this year’s CES proved the technology was ready to expand onto the big screen as LG presented the EA9800. Featuring WRGB technology, this curved OLED model has an inward flex which allows the entire screen surface to be equidistant from the viewer’s eyes. The TV, entitled ‘the world’s first curved television screen’ made for a awkward viewing as, in the next booth, Samsung boasted the exact same thing…
Whilst a TV screen that can curl round corners is pretty cool in its own right, curved OLED screens made it onto my list of faves purely because of the potential of flexible interfaces. Imagine how many more surfaces in the home or office could be integrated with state of the art technology. A coffee mug with news updates perhaps? A bowl telling you how many calories you’ve put in? A tablet you can fold up and put in your pocket? I guess we’ll have to wait till next year…
Bone Conducting Headphones
A set of wireless headphones that don’t need speakers – or even your ears – for you to use them. Panasonic’s new headset transmit sound waves directly through your skull, allowing you to noiselessly watch TV or listen to music whilst you let the rest of the house (read: knackered girlfriend) get their beauty sleep. Can definitely see this as next year’s Christmas present.
The HAPI fork
Even if you’re not a big Industry buff you can’t have escaped the swarms of blogs/ article/ OTT tweets about CES’s latest health product. A ‘high-tech’ dietary instrument, the HAPIfork monitors how fast you’re chomping down, tracking progress through cloud service uploads and gently vibrating if you go faster than the optimised digestion speed. The technology operates on the basis that it takes a full 20minutes for stomach signals to reach the brain, meaning the faster you eat, the less time your body has to register it’s full and the more unnecessary calories are consumed.
Whilst some question the design simplicity (can we really handle a device whose sole function is what it’s designed for) I suggest the HAPIfork could form a revolutionary industry of home technology, primarily because of its limitations.
Unlike the multitude of fitness bands, body monitors and diet gizmos we’ve seen in the past, all of which are designed to guilt you into exercise by revealing everything from optimised heart rates, to when’s best to go to the toilet (I’m not joking) – this fork actually does the job its designed for. Linked to weight loss, physical and emotional well-being, simplistic dietary technology is guaranteed to be of more benefit to the 30% clinically obese Americans than another 85” ultra HD TV. And before us Brits start looking smugly over the pond it’s worth thinking about the quarter of our own adult population who are in a similar situation.
Despite looking slightly like a toddlers training tool next to the futuristic Smart Home devices littering the CES showroom this year, the HAPI fork is one of the best – and quirkiest – products of 2013.
The Tactus Tablet
Possibly the favourite of the lot. Micro fluidics: The first touchscreen tablet that has a physical keypad for speed of typing. The buttons use fluid pressure through a legion of micro holes to rise from the traditional tablet screen upon entering a text application, only to flawlessly disappear again once you’re done.
Hive Wireless CCTV (Inspired Dwellings)Hive Labs Security System | Integrated Home Systems & Multi-Room Audio-Video
Simple yet effective. Fully featured yet low-cost. Hive combines the world’s only wire-free, battery Wi-Fi CCTV with a unique social cloud and rich yet simple mobile & web apps. With connectivity becoming increasingly crucial in the home, the use of a traditional battery is nostalgically reassuring.
The Smart Fridge
Asian-based heavyweight LG announced that it will release 27 models of new Smart Home appliances this year – refrigerators, ovens, hoovers, washing machine… the domestic list alone involves an endless list of utilities capable of interacting with your smartphone.
The favourite is the SAMSUNG T9000 Smart Fridge, which differs from other models by not only keeping track of your food, but by offering creative leftover recipes and combining with nearby supermarket deals on missing or depleted items. Synchonized shopping lists via Ever Note apps, mean it can even text shopping suggestions to household members to avoid that sinking ‘I forgot the milk’ feeling.
To be honest, it’s not merely the ease of access and star-trek like quality of these Home appliances that I can see the appeal for, but the effect it will have on the family home. Coming in at 32cubic feet with a 10” custom touch screen display and flexible fridge/ freezer space, this fridge has the potential to turn even the quietest kitchen into a hub of family activity. Synchronized calendar apps, photo displays, and news updates mean that the kitchen could reassert itself as the one stop drop off point for all your family needs. Whether it will rival the teenage appeal of the Xbox or MSN (is that still going?) is another challenge.