The Future is Nigh

10 awesome technologies unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show

By Marc Saltzman

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) —the 52nd anniversary of the annual convention, in fact—has rocked Las Vegas once again. This year, roughly 180,000 attendees converged in Sin City, just to get their hands on tomorrow’s tech today.

For geeks like yours truly, it’s the proverbial kid in a candy store event. A candy store that’s nearly 2.5 million overflowing square feet, that is.

From self-driving cars and delivery drones to wireless wearables and voice-controlled smart home gadgets, CES dishes out a glimpse into the near future. And, at the risk of overhyping what’s to come, it’s simply extraordinary. After roaming most of the massive showrooms, and wearing myself out, here are some of my hand-picked showstoppers. 

Sony Master Series Z9G 8K TV

With sizes up to 98 inches, you need to see this machine to fully grasp its beauty. Sony’s first consumer 8K television delivers four times the resolution of 4K—but, until we have 8K native content to consume, this box can also upscale 4K content to near-8K resolution. Powered by Picture Processor X1 Ultimate, this mountable television includes full-array local dimming and powerful front-firing speakers. No word yet on price, but watch for a promised 2019 release.

Sony’s Master Series Z9G 8K TV.

Royole FlexPai

The world’s first foldable smartphone also made a splash at CES. Called FlexPai from Royole, this Android-powered device can be used as a four-inch smartphone, when folded, to make calls or send texts. However, when the flexible AMOLED display is rolled out into tablet mode, measuring 7.8 inches, it’s ideal for reading eBooks, watching films or playing games. According to Royole, this US$1,300 device—out by mid year—has withstood 200,000 folds in testing, which is the equivalent of about 100 bends a day for six years. The FlexPai offers three different viewing modes and boasts a QHD resolution of 1920 x 1440, which equates to a pixel density of 308 pixels per inch.

Matrix PowerWatch 2

I love my smartwatch, but I don’t love having to charge it up so regularly. With such a small battery, maybe we don’t have a choice. Although now we do—if the Matrix PowerWatch 2 works as well as it looks. This second-generation smartwatch uses body heat and solar energy to keep it powered, so it doesn’t need charging at all. The durable watch also adds heart-rate monitoring to its step counting (in the previous generation), plus GPS location tracking, notifications, 200-metre water resistance and an always-on reflective colour screen. Costing just over $500, it’s currently available through an Indiegogo campaign that has exceeded its goal by more than 700 per cent.

LG “Rollable” television

Can you get your head around owning a television that can roll up like a yoga mat? That’s exactly what the R9 4K OLED TV from LG can do. When collapsed, this 65-incher tucks into a small table-like stand—resembling a piece of furniture (including a built-in shelving unit on top)—but also houses a powerful 100-watt Dolby Atmos speaker. Turn on the television with the push of a button or by using your voice (Amazon Alexa and Google support), and its gorgeous screen rises rise up in about 10 seconds. There’s also a “Line Mode,” where about a quarter of the display is shown, for on-screen music controls and smart home control. LG says it’s coming to a retailer near you this year.

Dell XPS 13

A CES Innovation Award honoree, the new Dell XPS 13 looks similar to its award-winning predecessors—a 13-inch device crammed into an 11-inch body, and a nearly bezel-less 4K InfinityEdge screen. This new model simply adds Dolby Vision support to its screen (along with the option for touch), the latest Quad Core 8th Gen Intel processor and a new colour option (Frost White). Addressing some complaints with the awkward placement of the webcam in previous XPS 13 laptops, Dell has also introduced a new 2.25-mm HD webcam, which is now nicely nestled on the top of the display. 





Foldimate

Folding clothes is a first-world problem, right? If you absolutely hate the chore (or are horrible at it), Foldimate (finally) had a functioning version of its laundry-folding robot at CES. It’s essentially a large appliance that lets you feed in a “full load of laundry” (about 25 articles of clothing) of various materials and sizes, which it then folds in fewer than five minutes. Aside from the steep price point (about $1,300) when it debuts by year-end, it also won’t handle all items—so don’t try feeding it things like towels, bedsheets or baby clothes. Still, it worked, and well at that.

Mookkie

Talk about a clever use of artificial intelligence. Italian tech company Volta has a product called Mookkie, a pet feeder with a teeny camera that recognizes each pet’s face and then dispenses the appropriate food to the correct animal. As you can imagine, this could be a particular godsend for households with more than one pet, a mix of dogs and cats or animals with specific dietary needs. Scheduled for a September launch at just $239, Mookkie will also send alerts to a pet owner’s phone when the bowl needs refilling. Now, what about an automatic walker to round things off?

Photo: Volta

Arcade1Up: Mortal Kombat

After a successful 2018, Tastemakers, LLC—which sells three-quarter-sized arcade cabinets of classic arcade games for $399—showed a new line-up of
Arcade1Up cabinets at CES. Each machine includes multiple games: Final Fight (with Capcom’s 1944, Ghosts ’n Goblins, and Strider); Space Invaders (with two versions of Taito’s classic shooter); Golden Tee (with four versions of the Incredible Technologies games; coming in June); and Karate Champ (with Data East’s Bad Dudes, Burger Time, and Caveman Ninja; coming in September). Also in September, the one Arcade1Up cabinet I’m most excited for: Mortal Kombat, featuring three games.

Photo: Tastemakers, LLC

Wi-Charge

If you like the idea of wireless charging but not having to put your phone on a dedicated mat, then Wi-Charge might interest you. Available in 2019, your smartphone could just start charging up when it’s on your kitchen counter or perhaps when you’re sipping a cup of Jo at Starbucks. This small transmitter sits in your ceiling or wall and uses infrared technology to wirelessly charge up your devices from across the room, via an embedded chip or (in the meantime) a fitted case. The company says it’s safe (FDA approved). One drawback: It requires line-of-sight, meaning that if anything blocks the invisible beam then it stops working.

Photo: Wi-Charge

LG HomeBrew

The LG HomeBrew craft beer machine uses pods, similar to your favourite coffee machine.

Forget the bread-making robot everyone was buzzing about: I’ll take my yeast in beer form, please. This homebrew craft beer machine uses pods (like a Nespresso or Keurig coffee machine) to make five kinds of beer: Pilsner, IPA, pale ale, wheat and stout. LG says it takes about 17 days to make five litres of beer—and that’s for the entire process, from fermentation to carbonation and aging—and, unlike other potentially messy home-based solutions, this tabletop machine is self-cleaning. No word on if and when it will be available in Canada, or for how much, but I’ve got first dibs.  

Marc Saltzman is a recognized expert in computers, consumer electronics, internet trends, and small business technology. You can see him on CNN, CTV, Global TV, and on Cineplex movie theatre screens across Canada. Follow him on Twitter @marc_saltzman.

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