Technology unveiled at CES 2013 could improve your daily life

January 11, 2013

As the Consumer Electronics Show winds down, technology innovators gave a glimpse into the world they are creating. Hayley Tsukayama wrote:

The gadgetry world gathered in Las Vegas this week to show off their best ideas for how technology can solve problems, improve daily life and basically make the world more efficient.

There’s always a deluge of products coming out of the International CES show, so it can be hard to see how adopting all of this tech could actually change your daily life. But that’s exactly the vision of CES, at a high level. Tech could transform nearly every part of your life.

Take a normal Saturday routine. With, for example, a phone toting a screen that wraps around the edge of your device, you could read at least part of your e-mail without even lifting your head.

As for breakfast, you could pick something to eat by checking the fridge inventory without opening it and find out which food may be ready to spoil — since your fridge let you scan your receipts from the store. Once you’ve decided on a meal, you could even send a recipe to your oven to get things pre-heated.

Tech even reaches the breakfast table, where you could use a smartfork that buzzes when you eat too quickly. And when you brush your teeth, you could have it play music directly inside of your head to let you know how long you should be brushing.

And that’s all within the first hour of waking up.

From day one, companies rolled out technology meant to appeal to everyday consumers, including social televisions, car technology and fun news for gamers. Tsukayama reported:

Panasonic was the main keynote speaker of the day, showing off some new television technology and a new 20-inch tablet with the capability to display ultra high-definition content. The tablet also has a stylus — what it lacks is any release or pricing information.

Audi also made a splash with its announcements. The company not only showed off more of its autonomous — driverless — car technology, it also announced that it will soon put 4G LTE connectivity in its newest models.

According to a release from the company, the new Audi A3 will have the capability — courtesy of a chip set from Qualcomm — in 2013.

Tour the floor of the tech industry’s biggest trade show in 60 seconds. (AJ Chavar/The Washington Post)

There was also some interesting gaming news out of CES today. That’s slightly unusual for this show, as game makers tend to save their most interesting announcements for the summer Electronic Entertainment Expo. But today’s announcements were gadget-focused, and that’s the name of the game at CES.

Razer announced a gaming tablet called Edge — a screen with slim, attached game controls — that will allow hardcore gaming to be much more mobile. Pricing details are forthcoming.

On the more conceptual side, game makers Valve and Xi3 announced that they are developing a small console for high-definition television monitors. Valve is a much-loved gaming company that also runs the Steam cloud gaming platform for PCs. Fans have been clamoring for the company to release a console that would allow PC games to come to the television. Late last year, Steam officially rolled out a mode that allows gamers to do so when they connect their PCs to their televisions. A console, at least in theory, would take that integration to the next level.

When this new technology will be seen in homes is uncertain, but Rich Jaroslovsky reported on a few trends that consumers might see on the market soon:

Pixel Upgrade

This new format vastly increases the number of pixels that make up a digital image. The new sets feature a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times the number used in current “full hi-def” 1080p sets. An even higher UHDTV format, with eight times the pixels, is being developed as well.

I had especially close looks at the Samsung and Vizio UHDTV offerings, and the picture quality was truly breathtaking. Still, there are a bunch of major issues to be resolved before this technology finds its way into the homes of all but the earliest of adopters.

As with 3-D, there’s the question of where the content to take advantage of all those pixels is going to come from. The manufacturers say traditional hi-def content will look even better on the new sets, but it may be some time until we see producers creating a lot of native UHDTV content and programmers opening channels for delivering it.

The manufacturers themselves are providing few details on how soon the new sets will appear -- and how quickly they’ll come down in cost from the cool $25,000 price tag on the 84- incher Sony has already begun shipping.

China Surge

China has long had a major presence at CES as manufacturer to the world. But this year is a little different: Several Chinese companies have upped their visibility in a bid to establish themselves as major brands in their own right.

Hisense, for example, snapped up much of the convention floor space formerly occupied by Microsoft. (The latter, a longtime mainstay of CES, has now joined Apple in the ranks of major consumer-technology companies that don’t participate in the show.)

Hisense used the prime real estate to present a full line of high-end products, including an ultra hi-def TV, as well as to showcase prototypes like a glasses-free 3D set.

Another Chinese company, Huawei, made a splash of a different kind by pouring water all over its new Ascend D2 Android. The device also boasts a five-inch screen, with pixel density that puts the iPhone 5 to shame, as well as a beefy battery.

More CES coverage:

CES 2013: ‘Paro’ robotic baby seal has therapeutic uses

WATCH: Hands on with the Fujifilm X100s

CES 2013: iGrill monitors your food so you don’t have to

CES 2013 timelapse

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