CES 2014 Preview

Throughout this week, our reporters will cover the best emerging technology and trends from Las Vegas. Meet the team and see what topics they'll be tracking at the show:


Stephen Cass
Senior Editor, Resources

3-D Printing
Is this the year 3-D manufacturing breaks out of its prototyping and hobbyist niche? For the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show, a zone of the show floor is dedicated to 3-D printing, and there's a track on the official conference schedule. I’ll be looking to see if there’s real momentum behind the emergence of 3-D printing as a force in mass manufacturing. One encouraging sign at Sundays’s pre-show CES Unveiled event: Sculpteo showed off technology that makes it easier to do batch printing of large numbers of 3-D objects (below).

Smart Start-ups
I’m also looking for original and clever innovations in the expanded start-up zones at CES—even though that search will mean wading through a lot of me-too companies trying to leap on various technological band wagons with derivative products. 


Tekla Perry
Senior Editor

Wearables, Wearables, Wearables
This show is going to be all about wearables. I hope to see even one wearable that does something both new and useful, and is also comfortable and attractive to wear. So far, among the small group of companies to show at a Sunday night press event, June, a wearable sun-sensor, stood out as new and somewhat useful [right]. But, to me, a sun sensor by itself is not something I would want to wear, though it would make sense integrated into a fitness band. I’m also expecting to see wearables for pets—but not exactly looking forward to it.

There will also be google glass applications and wannabe google glass competitors, like GlassUp; I’m hoping, but not expecting, to be wow’d by one of these.

TVs and Displays
I want to be convinced that 4K TV is really a lot better than HDTV, even though it will be some time before there’s much of anything available to watch in 4K. Samsung and LG have announced huge 105-inch diagonal 4K screens; I get that the extra resolution helps at that screen size, but I’m not sure it’s going to make a difference in the living room. I'll also be investigating whether curved screens are better than flat and if OLED is going to happen in a big way this year, even though it turned out to be a big ho-hum in 2013. Plus: is 3D TV still the next big thing?

Games
I’m really looking forward to seeing the real-world game GPS/smart phone game “Dust” in action, after seeing the company launch at Haxlr8r. I’ve already had friends volunteer to play with me if I need to test this, which is a sign that this could be really huge. My only reservation about the Dust concept is that game-players might freak out someone with a real gun--I'll be talking to the game designers about that.

Accessories
I’m sure there will be all sorts of strange and, perhaps, occasionally useful accessories. I already saw, but haven’t yet tried, a weird tablet keyboard called TrewGrip [left]; I’ve heard about false fingernails that act as touch screen styluses—who knows what else is out there?


Evan Ackerman
Senior Writer, Automaton

2014 is my sixth year reporting at CES. By now, I have a reasonable idea of what to expect, including TVs that are slightly larger than they were in 2013, tablets and laptops that are slightly smaller than they were in 2013, and crazy public relations people trying to convince all of us that larger TVs and smaller tablets and laptops are going to somehow change the world. So as it turns out, six years of CES is enough time to get completely jaded on the entire experience, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a few things that I'm expecting to get excited about anyway:

Clever Computer Interaction
The last few years have been all about interacting with computers and devices by touch, and it's time to move beyond that. Voice control is maturing infuriatingly slowly, but I expect to see intuitive gaze control from Tobii successfully make it into the consumer space, while companies like Thalmic Labs harness gestures by tapping directly into our muscles.

Virtual and Augmented Reality
Google Glass has been the most exciting piece of augmented reality hardware to hit the consumer space (or close enough) in years, but augmented reality is capable of so much more. Innovega's iOptik contact lenses are promising an immersive, high resolution augmented reality experience that covers your entire field of view. And if that's not immersive enough, Oculus will be demonstrating the latest prototype of its Rift consumer virtual reality headset.

The Unexpected
The very best part of CES every year is the potential to see something new, amazing, and entirely unexpected. While there are a handful of specific things that I'm excited for, it's the companies doing things that nobody has ever seen or heard of that can make the entire show. I have no idea what we're going to find, but that's part of what manages to keep me coming back.


Celia Gorman
Associate Editor

Video Coverage
I'm planning to shoot a bunch of video at the show. So far we've already seen sneak previews of some fun gadgets: Sphero, which has a new rolling robot out (not revolutionary but nifty), a driverless car, and Parrot, which has two new small bots. I'll be covering the Formula E premier, which we highlighted in our Top Tech 2014 special report. I'm also interested in spending more time with PrioVR's full-body gaming rig.

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