Autonomous Cars, Floppy Phones, What’s Next?

Chris Ott, Editor in Chief

New gadgets are a wonderful thing. If you have ever gotten excited over a redesigned smartphone or a flashy new device, you know how visitors at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) felt as they viewed the exhibition in the Las Vegas convention center back on January 8 through 11.

The show has been running ever since 1967, and serves as a promotional springboard for companies to show off their new devices. Many everyday products that we take for granted now were introduced at this show, such as the CD, the DVD, the HDTV, and the Xbox. One cannot help but wonder, when looking at the items on display, which one might be “the next big thing.” While it may be impossible to predict the future, it is quite easy to pick out a few promising candidates.

Self driving cars are a likely choice, courtesy of Audi and Toyota. Audi’s car is able to park itself in a garage. It can also drive itself through touch-and-go traffic (defined as anything under 37 miles an hour), allowing drivers to do things such as text, read the newspaper, or fiddle with the radio, minus the costly fender-benders that usually occur as a result. Ricky Hudi, the Chief Executive of Electronics at Audi, stated that drivers can turn the system on or off saying, “When I don’t want to drive, I allow myself to be driven.”

Toyota’s Lexus on the other hand, announced that it was creating a completely autonomous vehicle. Since it has not released many details yet, its capabilities are still a matter of speculation.

3D Systems, a company that manufactures rapid prototyping machines, released a new 3-D printer. The device, named CubeX, can take designs from a computer and build them out of multi-colored plastics. Anything within 10.8 x 10.45 x 9.5 inches will work. The company demoed the device by printing a basketball, toy rockets, and a globe.

There was also, of course, a vast array of small digital devices, smart-phone add- ons, and stand-alone examples of new tech. Samsung displayed an ultra-HDTV, boasting a display so powerful that no current data storage devices can play on it. They also showed a prototype smartphone with a bendable screen.

All in all, the CES showed a wide variety of new devices that captured the interest of tech enthusiasts.