CES 2012: The technology of tomorrow

CES doesn’t have to just be about conventional consumer gadgetry. Save for the usual phone and TV overload, there are often a few tech treats tucked away that not everyone notices. They tend to be prototypes or design concepts that may never see fruition, but some do eventually make an appearance out in the real world.

A prime example of this is OLED TVs, which were more an experiment than anything at CES in 2011, but stole the show this year. So what did we discover in 2012 that we expect to be the technology of tomorrow? What are the Pocket-lint gang already saving for?

Cubify 3D printer for the home

3D printing usually remains a university and research lab only affair. This is partly due to the fact that most normal people would continually use it to print naughty shapes ... well we would anyway. In all seriousness though, it is just too expensive to even consider having access to proper 3D printing tech, or at least that is what we thought.

Put together by 3D systems and priced in at around $1300, the Cubify is the first ever compact 3D printer that you could actually use at home. So why is this important? Not because you can sell fake printed iPhones on eBay but rather experiment with design and construction in your living room.

Imagine what this could mean for architectural or furniture small businesses, who will be able to print instant mockups of new products. Any start up for that matter could benefit hugely from the ability to print small test hardware.

The real thrill we get out of the Cubify though is that it is the first time printing has been remotely exciting in years. Not once have we got the slightest excitement out of ejecting a word document from our printer, no matter how many ink dots or Wi-Fi connections it has. Sending something out in 3D though, that is a different story altogether. Read more

Razer Project Fiona

Razer has a reputation for going slightly mad with its hardware. This one is unfortunately just a prototype but will get put into production if it gathers enough social media traction. So why is the Fiona important? Its the first time we have seen anything near powerful enough to run PC quality games.

The Fiona uses proper Sandy Bridge processors and has a dedicated graphics card so that you can crunch big textures and high frame rates through games. The design isn’t exactly great, but the power is so astronomically greater than things like Tegra 3 and other quad-core mobile chipsets, that it makes owning a tablet more likely to replace a PC altogether.

Given Nvidia’s gaming expertise and the speed at which tablets are evolving, its likely that we will see multi platform games looking the same on consoles as tablets soon enough, Project Fiona is just speeding up that process. Read more

Sharp 85-inch 8K4K

Some might argue this is something they would have preferred to see before 3D. The immense increase in quality that Blu-ray brought with it can only be bested by even higher resolutions. Sure it might be a pain to have to re-purchase movies again in an even more costly format, but one stare at Sharp’s 8K4K display will have you convinced.

The resolution is so incredibly high that every element of the image is crystal clear. Say you are looking at an aerial shot for example, then you will be able to see every single person walking on the streets below. It makes us think of the first time we saw the shot of the lorry overturning in the Dark Knight at an IMAX cinema, the street seeming so real it felt like we could walk down it.

In fact the experience is so realistic and the resolution so high, that most movies will actually be of a lower resolution than the screen, even that which has been shot on 70mm IMAX film. Enter then the rise of the 4K camera movie, which will no doubt replace HD in home cinemas soon enough. Forget 3D. 4K is what we want. Read more

HzO electronics waterproofing

Many years ago in our youth we once dropped a HTC Desire down the toilet the first day we got it. Thankfully it was spared by the old rice and jiffy bag trick, but about six months later the entire phone just shorted out and died.

A lot of phones now include special pieces of paper which will detect water damage and show manufacturers and insurers that you have got the handset wet. This means bye bye replacement phone.

HzO hopes to fix the horrors of that situation by creating an incredibly clever waterproofing spray for gadgets. This means no nasty plastic cases or shiny covers on your new gadget, just a quick blast with HzO and you can take that thing in the bath with you. The first time you see it in action it doesn’t quite seem right, but as we have seen from CES it works brilliantly. So much so that Apple and Samsung are both thinking about getting involved. Read more

Samsung Smart Window

Whilst we imagine having one of these in every window of our house would create serious confusion, the odd smart window could make opening the curtains in the morning a much nicer experience.

This tech has quickly become one of the highlights of CES and has many hoping to see it incorporated into homes sooner rather than later. It works by overlaying a user interface on transparent glass. You can then do things like check the weather or send tweets, by tapping the windows. It is even possible to close your curtains using the smart window which will, via an animation, stop being transparent.

The Smart Window might lead to increased window cleaning bills, owing to all those finger marks, but we reckon the sacrifice is worth it. What we really want to see is a more inventive use of the technology than the usual "can it send tweets?" approach. An interactive see-through display has so much more potential for use in consumer electronics. Take compact cameras for example, why not have the display become transparent and use that as a viewfinder to take photos? The possibilities with this are near endless. Read more

Any other future tech you have come across that you would like to see hit the market? Let us know in the comments below ...