Now that the dust has settled and the 2014 International CES is truly a thing of the past, it’s time to take a look at some of the products that were promised at the world’s largest consumer technology show. Remember, many of the items shows at CES are not quite ready for prime time. It takes months – almost the whole year in some cases – for these products to see the store shelf. From an electric bike converter to a personal aerial drone, a bionic arm to a next gen vehicle information interface, these ten technologies represent a step toward something new for the connected world. What will be the most desirable kinds of gadgets in the year ahead?
Nest Protect Smoke Detector
The creator of the iPod, ex-Apple design exec Tony Fadell, has continued to invent revolutionary technologies since creating his own company, Nest. The Nest Protect Smoke Detector is Fadell’s latest, a high-design smoke alarm system with plenty of advanced functionality. Nest Protect alerts you and your family about smoke, carbon monoxide and other dangers with a firm voice, information about the location of the problem and a message to your mobile device. Nest Protect is also adored for what it doesn’t do– it won’t chirp throughout the night when it’s low on battery, and it won’t produce false positives when you’re preparing a meal in the kitchen. It’s just a smart, stylish and informative little device designed to save lives.
Earl Backcountry Survival Tablet
Let’s face it, most of the tablets available today are built for low-intensity indoor use. It’s a shame, because a lot of the power and functionality of tablet computing could be useful in adventurous scenarios. Fortunately, a surprise tablet arrived this year that is heading toward wide availability– the Earl Backcountry Survival Tablet. This rugged tablet is built for camping, exploring and adventure, providing a map and navigation system, an emergency radio, two-way communication systems and a lamp with solar charging on its rear panel. It’s as advanced as it gets, using a custom Android operating system and an e-ink display that provides a range of important information in a simple layout. While your typical tablet is a nice luxury, it won’t hold up to one of these in survival scenarios.
Lehmann GoPro Personal UAV
There are many peaceful purposes for unmanned aerial drones, and this technology is finally trickling down to civilian applications. One noteworthy new product is the Lehmann GoPro Personal UAV, a fixed-wing aerial drone capable of flight to 300 feet for up to 5 minutes at a time. It’s ideal for mapping, exploring, photography and videography, and it carries a GoPro payload for high definition recording. It’s pricey, starting at $1300 without a GoPro, but it carries with it a lot of promise for peaceful applications. Interested in this kind of thing?
Apple Mac Pro
Is the new Apple Mac Pro innovative? It represents a significant effort in design and technology in Apple’s post-Jobs era, and its significance thus far is a success. It was Mac’s early desktop computers that built its association with creatives like music producers, photographers, graphic designers and film editors. While the brand grew exponentially on its consumer products division, this stunning new “obelisk” of a desktop computer suggests a return to its roots. It is powerful, featuring up to 12 cores of Intel Xeon E5 processors, plus dual GPU systems and all the flash storage one could desire. For creatives, like the film producers that have relied on Mac in the past, it is built to handle 4k video without a single stutter, one of the most demanding creative tasks one could force onto a computer today. Upon its arrival, this might be the greatest step forward in desktop computing in some time. Long live the Mac Pro.
Titan Arm Exoskeleton
One of the most coveted honors an inventor or product designer could hope for is the James Dyson award, an achievement given to one revolutionary design each year. The 2013 winner is the Titan Arm Exoskeleton, a bionic arm of sorts that provides a lift-and-motion assist to those recovering from injury or stroke. It’s not only powerful and promising, it’s affordable. Compared to other prosthetics, the Titan Arm Exoskeleton can be delivered for under $2,000, which could be brought down much further with government and insurance subsidies. It is the prototype of four students at the University of Pennsylvania, a group who is likely to achieve plenty post-graduation.
Flykly Smart Wheel Electric Hub
With the Flykly Smart Wheel, the bike of the future could be the one you already own. This wheel is designed to replace the rear wheel on your current bike to provide an electric pedal assist for long rides or dynamic terrain. Just pedal away, and the Flykly Smart Wheel provides additional power to cruise at up to 25mph at an otherwise leisurely pace. Inside the white case of the Smart Wheel is both a battery and a motor that are controlled by an app on your smartphone. It controls how much power the Smart Wheel provides, it informs you of remaining charge and it can even tell you if your bike is taken from where you parked it (and it’ll track to its destination). It’s an incredible tool for a commuter, one that won’t require the purchase of a new bike and can help you on long rides when you don’t have the full effort available.
Adobe Mighty Pen and Napoleon Ruler
Drafting and illustration sure have changed over the last decade. What used to be done with a pencil and ruler on paper is now done with a mouse or a tablet-stylus. Some of that functionality has been gone for years in this new digital environment, but the people at Adobe understand what has been lost. Their new Adobe Mighty Pen and Napoleon Ruler present traditional drafting and illustrative functionality, which had been around for hundreds of years, for their latest suite of creative software tools. This is an emphasis that producers of technology are continuing to work toward– bringing tried and true analog functionality into digital environments.
August Smart Lock
Like the Nest Protect above, there has been a little revolution in home consumer technologies recently. The latest is the August Smart Lock, a “digital doorman” that provides an alternative to key-based entry to you can allow and prevent different guests from entering your home. Want to let in your cousin or a repair tech? Just use the August app to send them an invitation to enter your home. Once the repair person has departed, you can turn off that invitation so they can no longer enter your home. Confused about who was in your home when you were not? August keeps a record of everyone who has used the service to enter your home. It’s a secure system, based on the inside of your door so the outer entryway remains the way it was before. But the interior technology, battery-powered and separated from your power and internet systems, is what makes August so special. If you’re in a jam, don’t worry– the good old fashioned key will always work.
Amazon Prime Air
Our talk of peaceful applications of drone technology continues, this time for commercial package delivery. Amazon recently revealed Amazon Prime Air, a prospective air delivery system that would use drones to deliver packages to customers. It’s a big idea, the type of thing Amazon has never shied away from, and it could have real world implications sooner than one would think. It does have its pitfalls, for example– what happens when a drone crashes and the package is lost? Those are the things Amazon will iron out if they want to begin testing this new technology in select cities. Funny enough, this idea may have had its roots in a spoof campaign for a Mexican restaurant that would use drones to deliver burritos. Check out the Burrito Bomber website for more.
Voice commands, touchscreens and haptic feedback are active in most consumer technologies today– but why not cars? The Cadillac CUE is a prime example of next gen controls like these in the automobiles of tomorrow, providing information, media, navigation and communication to accompany the perfect drive. Like the 2014 Cadillac CTS (arriving early 2014), Cadillac CUE has continued to evolve to provide the information-rich experience a modern driver would desire on the road.