The annual Consumer Electronics Show officially kicks off in Las Vegas on Tuesday, but journalists have already had a chance to see a host of upcoming gizmos during press preview events over the past two days.
Here’s a selection of some of the most impressive new gadgets unveiled at CES so far.
Wet dry hair
With all the super high-resolution televisions and wearable gadgets being peddled at this year’s CES, it’s a strange place to launch a new hair dryer - but that’s perhaps why Panasonic’s nanoe (pronounced na-no-ee) stands out.
The blow dryer, which costs $179 US, has the unique distinction of actually adding moisture to hair as it dries. Panasonic says the process, which breaks blown ions down before infusing them with moisture, is better for hair because it can be dried without being dried out.
The Japanese company will be holding demos throughout the week at its booth, which makes it notable in another way.
“I think we’re the first to offer a salon service on the CES floor,” joked consumer electronics president Julie Bauer during the company’s press conference on Monday.
Bend it like Samsung
The annual Las Vegas event has in recent years become known as a launching pad for new TV technologies. Some, such as LED screens, are more successful than others, such as — ahem — 3D.
Samsung wowed attendees at its press conference on Monday with a screen that starts flat, but then bends into a curved panel at the press of a button. Regular curved screens have failed to ignite imaginations so far, with many observers writing them off as gimmicks, but TV manufacturers are insisting they are better for some uses, such as watching movies.
A transforming TV that can be both is likely to be very expensive and impractical for some time, but if curved screens really do prove to be better in certain situations, then Samsung has shown off what is likely to be the long-term future of displays.
iTyping gets easier
It’s amazing that it’s taken so long for someone to invent an attachable keyboard for the iPhone, but that’s what entrepreneur Laurence Hallier – backed by celebrity Ryan Seacrest – has done with the Typo. The $99 device makes typing on the Apple’s later-model devices as easy as doing so on a keyboard-enabled BlackBerry.
The keyboard, which slips on to an iPhone and then connects via Bluetooth, eliminates what many see as the biggest pain point to switching to Apple’s iconic smartphone – touch-screen typing.
BlackBerry has wasted no time in suing Typo for alleged intellectual property infringement, a lawsuit Hallier says he is vigorously defending. Still, if Typo can weather the legal storm, it’s likely to have a hit on its hands.
Knock, knock: who’s there?
With seemingly every item in the house becoming connected to the internet, the Goji – a door lock that interacts with the user’s smartphone – should be no surprise. The San Francisco-based company’s product fits over a regular deadbolt lock and connects via Bluetooth, wi-fi and the ZigBee network standard, letting home owners control access to their domiciles via their smartphones.
The $299 Goji is equipped with motion detectors and a still camera, which takes photos of anyone approaching a door that it’s attached to and sends them to the owner’s smartphone. From there, the home owner can choose whether or not to admit the visitor by sending along a text message or email.
The digital lock is another step towards the “connected home” trend that has been prophesied for the past few years at CES.
Watch the skies
Paris-based Parrot has had considerable success in the past few years with its AR Drone, a remote, smartphone-controlled aerial copter that has sold for a relatively inexpensive $300.
The company is aiming for even bigger uptake in 2014 with the MiniDrone, a smaller version that has more maneuverability and higher flying speeds. While the company isn’t saying how much the diminutive drone will cost, it will be cheaper than its bigger cousin, meaning that Bluetooth-controlled flying robots may soon be within reach for everyone.