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The best of CES 2016

by • January 12, 2016 • No Comments

Equite year CES has additional to offer than any one human being may possibly digest in one week. We waded through the torrent of tech gear to bring you our picks for the most informative, innovative and simply just plain fun tech in fields like transportation, VR and wearables. This is Gizmag’s Best of CES 2016.

  • Zeiss has joined the iPhone accessory crowd
  • Can the Segway gain a new lease of life with the addition of robotic helper attributes?
  • Has the time finally come? Samsung's latest smart fridge
  • The Oculus Rift will cost $599, plus a $900 or additional PC

Digital technology gets on the road

In recent years CES has expanded in scope to provide a showcase for digital innovation in the transport arena, and in 2016 the array of road-going (and air-going) tech hit an all-time high.

The Auto Eye-Candy award for 2016 goes to the FFZERO1 Concept vehicle (above), a radical test-bed for electric-vehicle technology which includes four motors punching out over 1,000 bhp wrapped in a radically created carbon fiber shell.

A new and long-awaited Volkswagen Microbus concept in addition surfaced in the form of the Budd-e. This (maybe overly) optimistic look at the future of folks moving includes sophisticated voice, touch and gesture control centered around a huge “multi-display hub,” as well as outlining new architecture VW says may donate long range and super fast charging times by the end of the decade.

BMW in addition weighed in on the human machine interface front with the iVision Concept and a HUD packing motorcycle helmet.

Perhaps the largest transport story of CES 2016 wasn’t a car at all, it was Ehang’s 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) – a 440 lb (200 kg) drone created to autonomously carry a single passenger of one location to another. Move over Uber?

Speaking of drones, they again commanded a sizeable chunk of floorspace at CES, but most were things we’d seen preceding. The same may be said for Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell range extender, which was not dismuch like to Horizon Energy Systems’ fuel cell-powered Hycopter. But being targeted at third party drones, Intelligent Energy’s system may see additional drones staying in the air longer and taking less time to refuel.

Virtual reality gets eager for its closeup

We have been covering virtual reality for several years now, but with the big three VR headsets finally set for retail commencees, 2016 is going to be the year it moves of a thing we simply just preview at meetings and tech conventions to a thing gamers and consumers begin to use at home.

Our Best VR award goes to the Oculus Rift. The combination of the headset itself, spatial audio, Oculus Touch controllers (which “give you hands” within virtual worlds) and – most importantly – its market-leading lineup of commence games currently put the Rift at the top of our list.

The Rift’s US$599 price, which was revealed during CES, certainly ain’t bargain-priced (especially when you add it onto the $900 and up you’ll require to invest in the gaming PC which powers it). But we can in addition appreciate Oculus going the premium route – donateing what feels like the most deplete and uncompromised VR experience yet, eager to capture imaginations and blow minds.

Not too far behind is the HTC Vive, which the company is marketing for room-scale VR right out of the gates. HTC even added a clever forward-facing camera system, which alerts you to obstacles in your room (hopefully) preceding you smack into them.

As much as we enjoy the Vive demos, yet, it may be unrealistic to expect most folks to devote rooms in their house to VR of the get-go. Plus the Rift will be simply just as capable of room-scale VR – Oculus simply just isn’t making it an early marketing focus.

Though its quality is at least a notch or two down, Sony’s PlayStation VR may assist as a additional low-priced and accessible option for console owners. No matter what the headset costs, PS VR will be riding on the shoulders of the roughly 36 million PS4s which are aleager in gamers’ homes all over the world – a nice bonus with early adoption.

If you are aleager investing in one of the big VR headsets, one company wants you to use them to get into shape. VirZoom is a $200-300 exercise bike which syncs up with the Rift, Vive or PS VR. The games are quite basic, but they succeed at gamifying your workout and making you forget of your elevated heart rate and sweaty pits. Best of all, the games (present and future) are all included with the purchase of the bike.

Wearable tech moves beyond the smartwatch

For a while there, wearable tech didn’t get much additional diverse than a bunch of big, clunky smartwatches and Google Glass, but a few years into this game we’re begining to see a wider variety of creative gear show up in this space.

Our award for Top Wearable Tech Product goes to Doppler Labs’ Here Active Listening earbuds (above), which can change your perception of the world around you. Insert the two wireless buds in your ears, and use a paired smartphone to remix the sounds you hear in your environment. This means you can do things like shut up which noisy guy in your aisle on the flight, bring the vocals out above the pounding bass at a live concert or even give your dinner date a psychedelic, tripping on acid type of voice.

There’s a lot of room for both fun and practicality, the manual EQ and preset effects work as publicized
(maybe\ even advantageous than you’d imagine) and, best of all, Here looks fairly subtle in your ears.

Not so subtle is the Avegant Glyph personal theater, which we’ve been following for several CES visits now. Finally eager for its consumer commence, the $599 (soon to be $699) gizmo looks like an innocent adequate pair of headphones, until you want to tune out the world around you, at which point you slide them over your eyes for a private film, game or … well, anything else you can play on an HDMI-compatible phone, tablet, PC or console.

Our just hesitation is which, while you are using the Glyph to enjoy a flick in public, you may be setting by yourself up as the dweeby showcase presentation for the maybe\ genuinely curious, quite possibly snickering folks around you.

Picking up where Google Glass left off (and maybe running along a few much like lines to Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap), Osterhout Design Group’s standalone smartglasses continued to impress us this year (stay tuned for our hands-on post). ODG gave us a glimpse of a wider field of view model (above) alongside the $2,750 R-7 model which’s currently shipping to partners and developers (we initial previewed it at last CES).

Right now the glasses are being utilized primarily in enterprise and government agencies, but, with help of developers, this may some day spawn a few informative consumer gear, letting you both watch traditional content and enjoy Hololens-like augmented reality experiences – all coming of the glasses themselves, without any require for paired devices.

Entertainment hits home … and other random gear

This most likely isn’t one we’ll see in the immediate future, or maybe even the distant future, but Samsung’s Future TV Zone at CES, with its modular displays moving around a wall to take on exception screen shapes, was easily one of the cooler items on show.

Also in Samsung’s booth was a device which may split the difference between the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro: the Windows 10-running Galaxy TabPro S. Crazy light and thin like a mobile tablet, but running computer desktop software in the 2-in-1 form factor, we’ll be keeping an eye on the TabPro S for its a fewtime in 2016 release.

In other areas, 3D printing went (additional) mainstream with a household name getting in on the action, and smartphone photography went high-end with Zeiss revealing three high-performance iPhone lenses. And equitething old is new again, with updated retro devices like Kodak’s Super 8 film camera, and not one but two high-res turntables – one of Sony and another of Panasonic/Technics.

In a much like vein, the Segway popped up sporting a few new robotic helper capabilities and Samsung tried its hand at another reboot of the Smart Fridge.

For additional of Vegas, check out our full CES 2016 coverage.

  • The HTC Vive Pre, which adds a front-facing camera to keep you of bumping into things
  • PlayStation VR, which lags behind the Rift and Vive in quality, but may have a huge advantage in adoption
  • VirZoom, which combines VR with exercising
  • The Avegant Glyph headworn personal theater

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