2014’s Coolest Tech

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas in January every year. It’s one of the most important technology shows in world, and companies feverishly compete to present the best and brightest in tech. Let’s take a look at a few gadgets that created quite a stir at CES over the past fortnight. Not all the gadgets mentioned below may make their way into Indian stores, but they are worth a look just to evaluate where technology is heading.

Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift is a Virtual Reality (VR) Headset and wearing it makes you feel that you are in the middle of the scene being projected on the headset’s screen. What adds to the effect is a VR engine that allows you to make natural body movements to explore the screen. The demo that the Rift’s makers showed at CES was of a cave scene. So, if you looked up (while wearing the device), you’d be able to see the roof of the cave and if you looked down, you’d see the floor. A fantastic new feature even allows the user to look around corners by leaning forward and angling the head.

The Rift is likely to be launched in stores this year. While an obvious use will be video gaming (for a total 3D effect), the Rift is also likely to be useful in simulation exercises that are part of specialized training programmes, like a pilot training course.

What’s Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality or VR is a three-dimensional image created by a powerful computer. When the image is projected on a screen inside a VR headset, it can make the user feel that he or she is actually within the image shown the screen.

Wearable Tech

Smartwatches that do a lot more than just tell time have been around since last year, but they are now getting even more interesting. Smartwatches are now talking to other machines, and in the process, becoming very useful. The Pebble is a smartwatch that is sold in the United States (US). At CES, the watch’s makers showed off a new model for Mercedes car owners that displays current mileage, the amount of fuel in the car tank and tyre pressure, whether the user is near the car or not. It can even connect to the Internet to alert the driver of a traffic jam ahead.

Intel, the chip-maker, has come up with a very different piece of wearable tech – body-monitoring earbuds that you wear much like earphones. The earbuds have trackers that collect calorie burn rate, pace, distance, and time data during a work-out. That’s not all. If the user is going too slow or too fast compared to the goal set at the beginning of the work-out, the earbuds will play fast or slow music to help the user speed up/slow down.

DoorBot

The DoorBot is a Wi-Fi-enabled doorbell that lets you see and talk to visitors standing outside your door using a smartphone.  When someone rings the bell, DoorBot sets up a video call so you can see the person standing outside.  Since it can connect through Wi-Fi to the internet, it can transmit the video to your phone, even if you are not at home. So, now, if that urgent courier comes home when you are away, you can speak to the messenger and sort things out!