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These are the tech trends to expect in 2015

By Team HardwareZone - 19 Jan 2015

These are the tech trends to expect in 2015

(Image source: CEA.)

 

The top tech trends to expect this year

Without a doubt, the biggest show in the tech calendar, the International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES), is a prelude of the kinds of tech products we can expect throughout the year. Sure, some are destined to be vaporware right from the start, but with 3,600 exhibitors, they are still plenty of gems to be had.

So, what are some of the trends that would define the mobile, TV, computing, automobile, wearable, audio, and gaming spaces this year? After trimming the frivolous, we've penned down here what we feel are the most important ones.

 

The ZenFone 2 offers flagship-level performance at affordable prices.

Mobile

While CES saw the unveiling of a few jaw dropping premium flagship smartphones, such as LG’s curvy G Flex 2, there was a more subtle trend sweeping the show floor. Brands like OnePlus, Hisense and Meizu, which previously focused on entry-level and mid-range hardware are now quickly closing the gap with major smartphone makers.

Where before $200 wouldn’t buy you much in terms of design and hardware, these brands are now offering premium handsets with the same level of power and often a similar design and build to major manufacturer’s flagships at a fraction of the cost.

What does that mean for the major manufacturers? Some, like ASUS have responded by dropping the prices on their premium flagship devices, like the newly announced ZenFone 2. While for others, rather than focus just on performance, brands like Samsung and LG are trying to innovate with features that smaller manufacturers will not be able to replicate. Curved displays such as LG’s G Flex 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge are a good start, but for now, they haven’t become must-have features. Look out for major innovations to be announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress in early March.
 

 

TVs

TV makers will not admit it, but for the past several years, their smart TV creations had brutally exposed their ineptness in UI and UX designs. After years of quick fixes that led to nowhere, TV manufacturers are now turning to mobile OSes en masse. LG led the charge with WebOS in 2014, and at CES, the company wheeled out its latest WebOS 2.0-powered TVs. Not to be outdone, cross-town rival Samsung announced that Tizen OS will be the foundation of its smart TV platform moving forward. Across the Sea of Japan, Panasonic has embraced Mozilla’s Firefox OS; and Sharp and Sony have jumped onboard Google’s Android TV system. Because of their mobile roots, we’ve high hopes that the smart TV experience (from boot times and menu navigation, to multi-tasking and device interoperability) will take a huge step forward from now on.

It’s also heartening to see that TV makers have turned their attention back to improving picture quality. In a bid to close the gap between LCD and OLED, Korean pair LG and Samsung have announced new LCD LED TVs using quantum dots technology. The former seems to be the busier of the two, as it also unveiled a new Wide Color LED tech and no less than seven 4K OLED models. Of course, the other brands are all about 4K too. For Sony, we’re mighty impressed with its 4.9mm thin X9000C; and for Sharp, its pixel-splitting 4K TV left us dreaming of 8K.

SUHD isn't some kind of new image format. It's just Samsung's way of saying its new series of premium TVs offers a much better picture quality than its rivals.

 

There's even a supercomputer version of the X1 called the PX which is used in the Audi cars.

Computing

Broadwell. You couldn’t go an article about computers without hearing about the name for Intel’s next generation chip. Despite that, depending on who you ask, the Broadwell announcement might not have been all it could be.

NVIDIA announced two chips at the event, the GeForce GTX 965M (which we talk about in the Gaming section) and the Tegra X1. The Tegra X1 was notable in that not only did it offer the requisite performance upgrades, it’s going to power some of Audi’s cars in the future.

We’re also starting to see more interest in the field of streaming, with Razer introducing a trio of new products in the hopes of striking gold here. While some of them may have issues, the jury’s still out on the most important aspect of Razer’s strategy, game streaming. While the concept isn't new, if the re-focused strategy and availability works and delivers as promised, Razer might be a contender in the field.

 

Cars

The automotive industry is at another turning point. For the past few years, the world was absorbed with hybrid technology. Now that hybrid technology has gone mainstream, the automakers are now turning their attention to cars that are smart enough to make sense of their surroundings and even drive themselves.

To enable this, one of the major automotive-related announcements came from graphics giant NVIDIA, who unveiled its NVIDIA Drive PX supercomputer for the car. Comprised of two Tegra X1 processors and boasting over 2 teraflops of compute performance, the Drive PX aims to enable autonomous driving. Using the Drive PX, the car can analyze up to 12 high-resolution camera feeds simultaneously or up to 1.3 gigapixels per second. Then, using a deep neural network model, the Drive PX will classify objects, such as traffic lights, pedestrians, cyclists, cars and more as it drives along and react accordingly to its environment. Already, Audi has committed themselves to the Drive PX and has already put it into testing.

In NVIDIA's demonstration of Drive PX, it showed that not only was the system clever enough to recognize cars, it could even identify the type of cars it saw.

 

Wearables like the Wonderwoof are now available for your pet!

Wearables

When it comes to wearables, for now, the hottest piece of real estate is undoubtedly your wrist, but after CES, that might change. Among the Innovation award winners at CES this year, we saw products like the XelfleX shirt, which makes use of fiber optic cabling and advanced data algorithms to track your body’s movement in incredible detail. It works through backscatter data created whenever fiber optic cabling is bent or twisted. This data can then be used to create a real-time, perfect 3D model of what the user’s arm is doing. The possibilities for fitness or sports coaching are endless, but we might also see XelfleX paired with gear like Oculus Rift to further enhance the VR experience.

In the area of healthcare, we also saw the debut of AmpStrip, an adhesive patch with a built-in electrocardiogram sensor that can be stuck to your chest like a band-aid and used to monitor your heart-rate and activity.

Pets are now a target market for wearables too, with the introduction of products like WonderWoof, a Wi-Fi enabled bow-tie with a built-in accelerometer that you can attach to your pet's collar. The device will track where your pet is, and give feedback about his activity.
 

 

Audio

The buzz for audio products at CES 2015 remains very much on High Resolution Audio (HRA) coupled with wireless technologies, with new wireless models from Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, Sony, and Samsung all on show. While wireless headphones are not new, they’re joined by products in the home space this year, showing that there is indeed value to less clutter.

HRA has also left room for a revival of portable media players like Sony’s Walkman NW-ZX2 that has a quality S-Master HX digital amplifier and comes with 128GB built-in storage as well as a memory card slot for easy expansion.

Finally, integrated sound processing technologies are also being incorporated into the headphones themselves. For example, Parrot’s Zik Sport earphones feature 32-bit sound processing and fitness tracking abilities, while the Neoh headphones by 3D Sound Labs uses motion sensors and the way we perceive sound to recreate three-dimensional sound in your head.

Sony's new MDR-1ABT is wireless and features touch sensors on the ear cups for full playback control.

 

The OSVR is Razer's bid to unify the fragmented VR market with one open source platform.

Gaming

Gaming-centric news is a little light from CES. Still, some noteworthy events did happen. The most important's probably how Razer is pushing for open source VR and it throwing its hat into the streaming machine arena. NVIDIA also had a hand in making waves with its GeForce GTX 965M reveal, although many suspected that it was coming.

Hardware makers like Aorus and Gigabyte also made the news, being one of the first manufacturers to announce laptops with the unrevealed (at the time) GeForce GTX 965M. Aorus made another big splash, when it went one stepped further and announced its machine will have the graphics chips in SLI, adding the X5 to its series of SLI notebooks.

MSI made the news in another way. It announced the GT80, a high-end gaming notebook. The specs weren’t the reason people took notice, rather it was the built in discrete-class mechanical keyboard, which featured Cherry keys.

Too short; not enough? Then scroll down for a list of everything we've covered at CES 2015.
 

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