Friday TechMunch: acCES All Areas in Las Vegas This Week

Naturally, there’s been a lot of chatter around one of the world’s most prominent tech events, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place every year in its home town of Las Vegas.

So what are the biggest themes coming out of this year’s show? There’s been a major flux in the number of ‘connected’ everything being showcased and wearable tech has also been hogging the limelight. We’ve pulled together a round-up of some of the news which caught our eye this week…

Death of the console?

We’ve seen several game-changing announcements, particularly from Sony and Valve, as the two vie with Microsoft to dominate gaming in the living room.

Sony surprised convention-goers and announced plans to make console-gaming possible without owning a console; this feat will be courtesy of PlayStation Now, a new cloud gaming platform. Subscribers to the service will be able to play titles from Sony’s library of games without owning the relevant hardware. This should solve the PS4’s backwards-compatibility problem (an issue that Microsoft has yet to address) but the move can also be seen as part of a wider transition within the gaming industry away, from the traditional revenue models of dedicated consoles or PCs.

Valve however, having already cornered off the cloud with its Steam platform, announced 13 partnerships with hardware manufacturers. Each of the 13, which include the likes of Alienware and Scan Computers, will be making their very own ‘Steam Machine’, all running the recently released SteamOS. Whether or not these devices could actually be ‘console-killers’ remains to be seen but regardless, this move should definitely shake up the console and PC marketplace.

Liz Mercer

CES connected home: the weird and wacky

I have to admit, I am a bit baffled by some of the smart/connected home products and apps and devices. For example, why would I want something that monitors what I am doing at home and nags me for not cleaning up enough? My partner already does that beautifully.

The Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker could be useful.  The budding chef is able to control it remotely using a smartphone, making sure the dinner’s ready when you get home and not hours later. Particularly handy if you have hungry kids to feed after a day in the office. And at £70 it’s not going to break the bank if you don’t use it much.

I was also intrigued by the Aura sleep system which claims to wake you at the best moment, or at least get you ready for waking up, by stimulating your body to release hormones that make you more alert. I’ve certainly been using the snooze button a little too much of late (particularly this week, after the festive break), which makes this gadget sound brilliant… and also a little scary.

Deborah Nazareth

Wearable tech

Wearable tech is so metaphorically hot at this year’s CES that if it were literally that hot it would be unwearable.

Will it gain traction in 2014 though? Many think not, for two main reasons:

  1. It’s mainly tech insiders and the media going mad for it. There aren’t many teenagers asking for Google Glass – yet
  2. Smartphones are on our person so much of the time. Asking a consumer to carry a pedometer separate from a smartphone that has very similar functionality isn’t a clear value proposition

There’s been much talk around the fact that some of these advancements seem to be technology for technology’s sake – true innovation needs to serve a genuine purpose for the consumer.

Callum Heckstall-Smith

World of pure imagination? Not anymore

Finally, two of my favourite things have joined forces: 3D printing and food. Excellent. As 3D printing technology becomes more and more consumerised, US firm 3D Systems this week unveiled its Chefjet range of products which can ‘print’ chocolate, or sugar infused with various flavours. Bespoke-designed sweet treats can take pretty much any shape or form, can be multi-coloured, and can even have movable parts. Is anyone else thinking of that magic moment when the children walk inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?

Sarah Hay