Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

12.1.2018 Fairfax Tech Column 77


Today is the last day of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas. The 2018 version was the 51st anniversary of the largest global gathering of innovation and electronics with almost 200,000 people in attendance over the four days including 8,000 media. To put that in perspective, the recently concluded fifth Ashes Test held in Sydney was hailed a huge success – with 182,349 people attending over the five days. You know that electronics is big when it attracts more people than a sporting contest!

Typically CES is a chance for over 4,000 companies – including the big boys like LG; Sony; Samsung; Panasonic; Google; etc. – to announce and demonstrate their latest products. And despite the advanced state of electronics across the world, this year did not disappoint.

One might be excused for thinking we have little room left for innovation in the world of televisions – but there were a plethora of new displays announced this year. Samsung announced a TV they called ‘The Wall’ – and with good reason. This 146-inch TV is large enough that some might mistake it for a wall in your loungeroom. Just when you were thinking about upgrading your current TV to a 4K resolution version, several manufacturers announced 8K TVs at the show. The expense of these panels might mean that 4K is still popular for some years to come. LG has been a major player in TVs for several years now so they don’t want to be left behind. They demonstrated a panel that can be rolled up. This is still only a prototype but they did also demonstrate a new version of their paper-thin ‘wallpaper’ TV. The 2018 version (dubbed the W8) is only 2.57mm thick. You start to get the idea where the name ‘wallpaper’ comes from. While rollable OLED screens and monstrous TVs are nice to show off, it was also good to see Sony release a new range of TVs that are more attainable. The X900F series fits the bill as the best ‘affordable’ LCD TV series on the market with a range of models right up to an 85-inch model.

Moving on from TVs, there are a variety of interesting and potentially useful products on show. A suitcase to make your life easier at the airport was announced by Forward X. The CX-1 uses an in-built battery and camera and powered wheels to tag along behind you at the airport rather than you having to physically drag or push your luggage through the long walk from the gate to your exit.

Kolibree announced a solution to help parents across the world. No more reminding the kids to clean their teeth at bedtime. The Magik Smart Toothbrush uses augmented reality and a smartphone to turn the simple act of an enamel scrub into an augmented reality game. The only complaint from parents involved in the trial was that the kids wanted to clean their teeth too often.

When I looked at the next item, I thought it was made for me and my penchant for riding (and falling off) mountain bikes. I was a little embarrassed to then learn that Hip’Air was designed as an airbag for elderly people who are at a high risk of having a fall and breaking a hip. It is essentially an airbag for your hips – and with hip injuries potentially deadly for our elderly, this is a potential life saver.

I have spoken before about the smart home and the devices that will start to make our lives easier. There were a number of smart home devices announced at CES but one in particular caught my eye. Moen has created digital shower technology that integrates with Amazon Echo. My wife likes her shower at a lower temperature than myself so it is a constant change of temperatures between showers (first-world problem I admit). Moen’s device allows you to tell Alexa what temperature you want your shower at and it will automatically adjust it to that temperature. Now that sounds cool (or lukewarm depending on your preference).

Having some trouble getting some shuteye after thinking about CES 2018? You might need the Dreamlight Sleep mask. It is a large sleep mask with LED lights that emit orange light when you want to fall asleep to help you fall into dreamland quicker. Maybe they could add some LED lights on the outside as well – to tell my kids that I am having a sleep and they shouldn’t try and wake me while I dream about what might be hitting our shelves next!

Mathew Dickerson