5 Internet Connected Gadgets For 2018 and What They Tell Us Is Coming

CES is no longer called the Consumer Electronics Show – it’s just known by the abbreviation. Held each year in Vegas, CES is the best free event of the year. Everyone wants to get a free ticket and travel there. It does also, serve a useful purpose beyond a fun holiday.

Internet Connected Gadgets 2018

Viewed from a high level, CES is where we see, for the first time, the exciting practical application of new technology ideas which have often been bubbling in the background for a long time. This year, there was everything from bigger brands (Samsung, Sony, LG et al.) with new TV’s, to much smaller brands who mortgaged their houses with the goal of bringing an idea to market.

Like any technology show, CES had elements which didn’t work. In fact, this year, for the first time, there was a power outage (not ideal for an electronics show.) Poor LG put forward a personal assistant speaker which didn’t reply when it was spoken to. That said, some over-arching themes did permeate nearly everything that was in shown.

Themes and products visible for the first time this year at CES:

This year’s themes, are the first consumer applications – actual things you’ll be able to buy – built from the ideas that tech giants have been talking about so much in recent months. These concepts include interfaces to the internet, which will to help us get online more of the time and Artificial Intelligence as a part of – well as a part of just about everything.

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Here are 5 of the best electronic products presented by manufacturers large and small, at this year’s event.

Vuzix Blade :

Possibly one of the most interesting and innovative aspects of the show was the potential successor to what we might consider our current primary interface to the internet – a smartphone. Vuzix,  both the company and the brand they sell, have produced their own consumer focussed ‘Google Glasses’ replacement. These internet connected glasses show Augmented Reality overlays to the real world and are now available for pre-order.

Voice Assistants.

There were a bunch of Voice Assistant products on show this year. Of course, Alexa, from Amazon, has been around for several years – and currently leads the pack. The pick of the bunch of slightly more innovative displays was Lenovo smart display. which cleverly combines voice response and an LCD screen.

Essentially, Lenovo’s attempt is a tablet computer which is permanently connected to the equivalent of Google Assistant. Voice assistants are going to be a huge part of our future – a totally new way of relating to the internet. Lenovo’s approach recognises that sometimes, a picture or video is the best response ot a query, rather than a spoken response. That applies to everything from ‘what’s my bank balance’ to ‘is the Mona Lisa a beautiful picture.’

Robots :

Were one of the biggest themes, was independent robots, appearing in all shapes and sizes. Honda brought several examples of that type of technology, 4 in all and have clearly invested a great deal of time and research in the concept. Robots, too, will be a part of the future. No single version stood out at CES and, to summarise the consensus view, there are a few years between us and robots performing any substantial amount of work in the real world beyond extremely simple repetitive tasks.

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Internet connected everything :

One notable theme this year was the number of new devices which made it on to the internet. There were internet connected bins, internet connected dog feeders and internet connected fingernails.

The Internet Of Things, in consumer form, delivered through home applications is hard to imagine – but CES gave an indication of what we can expect in the near future. With most consumer products being throw away after a couple of years, this aspect of technology evolution is likely to invade our lives more quickly than any other.

Flexible screens:

Finally, yet another new way to interface with the internet, flexible screens were also on ‘display’ (haha) at CES.. Flexible screens are on TVs now but it seems likely, given the manufacturers who demonstrated them, that they will appear on our smartphones, soon.

Summing up – more internet is on its way

Speculating about what these tenants of the event might translate to then, could well inform what we see on the shelves of our electronic stores in 2018. Glasses, voice assistants and robots are all currently non mainstream ways for us to interface with the internet.

It’s not hard to see why the big brands are investing their time and effort there. Not only will these tools potentially provide productivity enhancing benefits for businesses and the ‘cool’ factor that consumers buy, ownership of the interface to the internet is no small matter.

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At the moment, Facebook, Google, Apple and a handful of others make billions of dollars each year because they make the smartphones, search engines and tools we use to engage online. If the way we enter the digital realm changes from phones and laptops to robots and voice assistants, they stand to lose a great deal of money – unless they sell the replacements, too.

Internet Connected Gadgets 2018

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