Big switch on for Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza in Las Vegas

A press event ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) offered an early glimpse into what could be the biggest trends of the four-day event, which starts today and is expected to attract around 170,000 people.
Big switch on for Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza in Las Vegas

The CES is taking place in Las Vegas, with major brands including Sony, Samsung, and HTC all making announcements.

A gaming chair for virtual reality and a four-wheeled robot driven by a smart glove are among the first products to have been revealed at the world’s biggest technology convention while smart fridges and washing machines that interact with users were at the centre of the LG press conference ahead of the CES event.

The technology firm was one of the first global brands to unveil its plans for 2016, which it confirmed will revolve around a new premium range called Signature.

The new washing machine has two separate load areas, enabling users to wash two different sets of laundry at once. It can also be linked to a smartphone which notifies you when your washes are complete.

The new Signature fridge includes a door-in-door that becomes transparent when you knock on it, as well as a sensor to automatically open when someone approaches.

Televisions traditionally feature heavily at CES, and this year appears to be no exception as LG announced a new line of 4K ultra high definition units.

Again part of the LG Signature range, two of the OLED TV units, the G6 and E6 are only 2.57mm thick, LG says. “The same as four stacked credit cards” was the comparison made on-stage during the press conference.

The Signature TV line-up is all 4K, four times the definition of HD, and LG say they can display 1bn colours. A “super UHD” 8K television was also announced, boasting a 98in (249cm) screen, and will be on display at the company’s booth.

Although no prices have yet been confirmed, the Korean firm said a global rollout of products would begin in March. Fellow televisions manufacturers Samsung and Panasonic are also due to showcase new TVs at the CES event.

As well as big brands, many smaller start-up firms also come to CES to exhibit in a special zone called Eureka Park, hoping to entice new investment through showcasing their products.

According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) more than $1bn (€970m) has been raised in funding by start-ups at the show since 2012.

“We are in the middle of a revolutionary wave of innovation where game-changing ideas are springing up from small companies and entrepreneurs all over the world,” said Gary Shapiro, head of the CTA.

“We continue to be wowed by the success stories coming from these innovative start-ups as they present potentially game-changing concepts and prototypes to an eco-system on the CES show floor designed to help these start-ups grow and thrive.”

CES Unveiled, the preview event, included Ziro — a modular robotics kit that can be uniquely constructed from a starter pack. The device is then controlled using a smart glove, with movements of the hand controlling movement. It is one of hundreds of start-up products that come to CES looking for further investment.

Virtual reality is widely expected to feature heavily as a technology trend this year, and there were several kits on show at CES Unveiled. One such example came from start-up Immersit, who have created a system that moves your sofa or chair in time with what you are watching on TV.

The firm said the creation enables users to “physically feel everything taking place on your screen”, and can also be used with virtual reality headsets.

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