The Consumer Electronic Show or CES at Las Vegas in the United States takes place each year in January. It is the place to go if you want to know where the world of technology is heading. Here are some of the coolest gadgets that showed up at CES 2017. Not all will find their way to India but it will give you a pretty good idea of how technology is developing.
You may have seen a drone-it looks like a small spacecraft, almost toy-like, and using a hand-held controller, you can make the machine fly around like an aircraft. Sophisticated drones can travel long distances and are being used to deliver post and parcels in some parts of the world. A company called PowerVision has now taken that drone technology underwater with a new device called the PowerRay underwater drone.
The small device, which is attached to a boat through a cable, can be dropped into water and controlled by the person on the boat. The device can locate fish, take photos and videos and send these back to the boat, where they can be viewed on the smartphone/tablet. The device also has a light blue light that is supposed to attract fish.
Who is this meant for? Those who fish for a hobby or those who want to explore the underwater world without diving into water.
A smarter bed for better sleep?
Can a bed give you better sleep? Yes, apparently it can if it’s smart enough. The Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed, which showed up at CES this year, promises to be very smart indeed. If you are the kind of person who tosses and turns when you sleep, this bed with automatically adjust to give your body the correct support. If you snore at night (do you snore?) the bed will (by itself mind you) recognize your snoring and raise the level of the bed at your head slightly to stop this.
This bed is also a smart learner. By observing the normal time you go to bed, the bed will prepare to welcome you. That could mean raising the top half so that you can sit back and read in bed (if that’s how you adjusted the bed when using it the first few times) and even warming the area near your feet 15 minutes before bedtime so that you can retire to a cosy, warm bed!
For the love of Lego
Lego lovers, this one is for you!
Toy maker Lego is adding something special to its colourful bricks to make them come alive. For years, children all over the world have been building things with Lego blocks, and now with ‘Lego Boost’, which will be sold 2017 onwards, they can make their creations move and perform actions.
In addition to the colorful bricks, Lego Boost kits include special electronics such a microchip (a mini-electronic brain, similar to the one that powers computers), and sensors that help the toy detect objects around. These can be built into the assembly of the toy. Then, using an app that can be freely downloaded on a tablet, children can ‘program’ their toys to perform actions. Users don’t need to know how to write computer code. Instead, they can simply use ‘drag and drop’ icons on the app to create a chain of actions. These commands are sent to the toy wirelessly (the mini-computer that has been assembled inside the toy helps with this) and that’s it! You can make a Lego toy dance, move and make noises as you wish.
The Boost kits can eventually be used along with many other Lego sets to literally make your toys come alive!
Manage that anger!
Being angry is not a pleasant state to be in and there is even a device to help you with that! Hubble’s Hugo is small device for the home that comes with a camera that can make out your mood. One look at a person and Hugo can figure out if he or she is feeling angry, happy, sad, disgusted, surprised or fearful.
How will it use that information? For example if a young child comes back from school looking angry or fearful, Hugo can send an alert to the parents. Since it can also be connected to other devices such as the home lighting system or music, it can brighten up a room if you look scared or play relaxing music to make your anger go away.
Devices like Hugo use a new technology called the Internet of Things (IoT). In this, things we use around the home have the ability to connect and communicate with each other. So a phone can be used to switch on a microwave to heat dinner in case you are on the way home. You could turn on the air conditioning to cool the house before you arrive. A security camera at the door, once it recognizes you, could command the lights to come on around the house. The camera, lights and phone communicate with each other through wireless technology (much like cell phones)
The Vuzix Blade 3000 looks like a standard pair of spectacles, except these are very clever glasses. The glasses have a tiny projector built into the right lens that can beam images to your eye, while a bunch of electronics tracks your location and movements. It can also connect over wireless technology to other devices such as a phone or computer.
These smart specs can be used to display incoming email and messages, make video calls, search the internet and receive alerts about your schedule. All the information will be displayed to the wearer’s eye, making it easy to stay in touch while on the move or doing other tasks.
Companies and organizations will also have great use for them. For example, an engineer can use the glass to read a manual or instructions while assembling equipment. Medical students could use these to observe surgeries and share the doctor’s exact view of the patient. Tourists could use it to get around a new city. The possibilities are indeed endless.