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What to expect at CES 2015: 4K TVs, Broadwell chips and the smart home

Mark Hachman, PCWorld Editors | Jan. 5, 2015
For years, consumer technology has resided in two rooms: the office, and the living room. At CES 2015, expect it to colonize the rest of the home.

A breakout year for 4K TVs

We'll see 4K TVs — curved and flat, cheap and pricey — all over the show floor. Expect to see LG pushing its new OLED technology and joining Samsung, Sony, and other manufacturers in touting new displays based on "quantum dot" technology that promises to deliver a wider color gamut. And because no one will buy a 4K TV unless there's 4K programming to watch on it, look for service providers to announce new products to fill that niche.

Speaking of service providers, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen mentioned a self-imposed deadline to launch its over-the-top pay-TV service by the end of 2014, but the company has been quiet on that front since then. If it doesn't launch by New Year's Eve, we'll certainly hear more about the as-yet-unnamed service at Dish's CES press conference.

Wearables: Here we go again

It would be much too generous to say wearables are "growing up" this year, but clearly the consumer tech industry is advancing and expanding the definition of what a wearable can be. At this year's CES, expect a new generation of much more niche and mission-specific wearables — perhaps a reaction to the fact that activity trackers have become ho-hum commodity hardware; that Android Wear and Apple Watch have sucked all the oxygen out of the smartwatch space; and that all current-generation wearables are still struggling to find a receptive audience.

Among the highly specialized flights of fancy we anticipate seeing, a new wearable called Thync promises to alters one's mood, using "enhanced neurosignaling" to shift one's "vibe" to either an energized or relaxed state. Fuhu, meanwhile, is planning to demo a "child-friendly, gamified" pedometer, while Sensoria Fitness will show off new "smart socks" that help track cadence and center-of-balance while you run. We should also see Vert, a wearable that tracks your jumping stats (perfect for volleyball and basketball training); GoMore, which is being marketed as a "stamina sensor" that helps calibrate workout intensity; and Linx, a new head concussion monitor that could be great for anyone who competes in impact sports.  

And those are just the niche players. We're already hearing that a number of much bigger-name companies will have wearable-tech announcements. The question is: Will they stick to traditional formulas like the conventional activity trackers, or will they go big with innovative risks?

Cars rev to catch up to phones

Smartphones change fast. Cars don't. That's made their relationship difficult, but CES 2015 will mark a milestone, where cars aren't just catching up to smartphones — they're converging.

We expect to see signs of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink, the three technologies moving in from the smartphone side. All offer mobile experiences adjusted for car safety. (It's one thing to walk into someone on the street while you're texting. It's another thing entirely to be that distracted while driving two tons of wheels and steel.)


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