As we launch headfirst into 2018, everyone wants to know what the biggest trends will be for the coming year. Thankfully CES is THE place to be for all things new and techy!
Produced by the Consumer Technology Association, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), is an event held in Las Vegas every year. The very biggest & best technology brands showcase their latest products, getting everyone hyped for the year ahead.
Here’s our round-up of the best announcements and new product launches from this year’s show.
The talk of the 2018 show was most definitely Samsung’s new modular television, ‘The Wall’ (obviously Game Of Thrones fans!)
As the name suggests, this new TV is huge, 146 inches to be precise, but Samsung haven’t stopped there! The Wall is also modular, meaning the screen can in-fact be whatever size you’d like it to be. The television uses new MicroLED technology which means millions of tiny light-emitting diodes are arranged into the array.
The Wall was by far the biggest (quite literally) announcement of CES 2018. Although the price tag, tipped to reach 5 figures, will mean The Wall is not accessible for many of us – the technology used will no doubt transfer into Samsung products of the future.
Virtual reality is still big business for 2018
2017 was the year Virtual Reality got real! But 2018 is set to see big strides in the evolution of VR technology and real-world uses, and CES was the place to see them.
Virtual Reality releases at CES
One of the most eagerly awaited launches at the Consumer Electronics Show, was the Vive Pro. HTC is already a well-established market leader in PC VR, (it’s why we have a HTC Vive here at BLT!) however the new Vive update provided some welcome additions.
The Vive Pro model features an increased resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels, combined – a massive 78% more than the current headset. Whilst new Chaperone technology utilises dual front facing cameras to re-create a virtual outline of your environment, so you can move freely without fear of bumping into anything. The upgraded headset also includes high performance headphones with a built-in amplifier to offer “a heightened sense of presence” and richer sound.
Perhaps most significantly though, the Vive is available for the first time without a power cord, thanks to Intel® WiGig technology, allowing users to roam completely freely. This is a big step forwards for VR, enabling a truly immersive experience – because let’s face it, nothing jolts you back to mundane reality quicker than getting tangled in a power cable!
P.S. It’s worth noting a wireless adaptor has also been developed for previous HTC models, to allow all Vive headsets to become cable free. (*adds to shopping cart)
The Lenovo Mirage Solo marks a significant step for virtual reality headsets, because it works completely on its own! Unlike other models which rely on a smartphone or computer, the mirage solo has its own processor, so it doesn’t need other devices to work.
The headset has a built-in a 5.5-inch LCD screen display that delivers a combined 2560 × 1440 resolution, and an impressive 110 degree field of view. Users will benefit from 4GB of RAM to allow large applications to run, along with 64GB of storage space, further expandable with a micro SD card.
Lenovo have utilised Google’s Daydream Standalone VR platform for the Mirage Solo and, thanks to this partnership, the headset also features Google’s WorldSense tracking system. A huge benefit if you’re using the device for gameplay, as you will be able to jump, duck and dodge, just like you can with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Even more freedom is gained by the fact that the Mirage Solo is again cable free!
The Mirage Solo is an exciting first look at the potential of standalone VR headsets, but its success will depend largely on price. Lenovo initially suggested the headset would cost around £400, however, they have already announced they are trying to reduce the price “so that it’s accessible to more people.”
If you haven’t heard of Pimax, it’s because they’re not really one of the big VR contenders….not just yet anyway.
Pimax was founded in 2014 by a team of VR geeks and engineers (their own words!). They created the world’s first 4K VR headset in 2016 and have now used Kickstarter to bring their 8K project to life, raising over $4.2m to date. The 8K VR headset was originally unveiled at CES 2017, so many were excited to see what progress had been made this year.
The Pimax 8K boasts a massive 200 degree field of vision, this far surpassese offerings from the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Resolution is also ahead of the competition, featuring dual 3840 × 2160 LCD panels, (although not quite ‘8K’ as the name would suggest).
Overall, the show response was very positive, with comments on the impressive visual clarity and incredible field of view. However, there’s still a little way to go, with most people who tried the sizeable headset experiencing slight tracking issues, and visual distortions. Pimax have already responded to the show feedback and set out their plans for future improvements, so we’re excited to see what happens next.
If you’ve ever tried VR, you’ll know the temptation to reach out and touch something in a virtual environment is all too real – but sadly it will leave you disappointed, as your hand phases through the object!
We are at a point now, where VR has advanced enough, and virtual reality worlds are so immersive and convincing, that you instinctively want to interact with them. And the industry is recognising this! There are a number of companies already working on haptic technology and wearable controls, from sense gloves which can be used instead of handheld remotes, to the full body Teslasuit.
The Maestro VR Haptic Gloves were widely regarded as one of the most impressive prototypes at CES 2018. They actually replicate the feeling of touching things that do not really exist! Contact CI have created a glove that simulates the tension, pressure, and resistance of solid surfaces and objects, as if they physically existed.
To simulate touching objects in a virtual world the team at Contact CI mechanically recreated the way your fingers move with a mass of wires, sensors and ‘exotendons’. This is not yet a consumer-grade product, it’s just a glimpse into what the future of VR could look. The company hopes to partner with headset manufacturers to provide the next generation of Virtual Reality.
The idea of video games as exercise is not a new one, but Black Box VR is taking this idea to the next level.
The company intends to open its first boutique gym this year in San Francisco. Users will step into a literal black box, approximately 8ft x 8ft, where they will put on a HTC Vive headset and motion-tracking forearm bands. Then the fun begins, turning your workout into an immersive, competitive video game – where real world exercises translate into virtual gameplay.
Eventually, Black Box wants to add the ability for players to compete live against each other, (from anywhere in the world!) For now though, the company plans to simply display user profiles and local leaderboards in their gyms.
The firm have also said that an at-home version of the equipment could be developed in the future, meaning even the laziest geeks among us will have no excuse not to get active.
Virtual Reality creates immersive, interactive experiences
CES 2018 has reinforced what we all already knew, that Virtual Reality is here to stay. Ongoing software developments, the evolution of VR technology and the launch of increasingly advanced headsets were all features of this year’s show. But how does this tech translate into real business use?
When most people hear the term virtual reality, the first thing they imagine is a film or a game set. Indeed, VR has had almost instant implications in the entertainment industry, allowing users to be transported into virtual scenarios.
One such experience is Westfield London’s Star Wars VR experience. STAR WARS: SECRETS OF THE EMPIRE is described as a ‘full sensory, immersive experience’. Players walk into real-time hyper-reality that combines interactive sets, real-time effects and amazing technology.
But entertainment and gaming are not the only industries where VR can thrive. We’ve spoken before about how the Architecture industry can benefit from Virtual Reality.
Architecture is another area which can benefit immediately from using VR, allowing clients to be transported into their designs. With Virtual Reality technology, companies take less time to understand their client’s needs or demands. The whole design and development process is streamlined, saving time and money.
Other businesses have also taken notice of the opportunity to immerse their clients in creative, interactive experiences.
- Estate agents have used VR to give their customers virtual walkthroughs of potential properties.
- Fashion retailers have used VR headsets to display their latest collections.
- In the US, juries have used VR tech to make convictions.
- Furniture stores can now use VR to place virtual furniture inside of customers’ homes.
- The travel industry can instantly transport customers to exotic destinations.
- Automotive retailers can put someone behind the wheel of a car for a virtual test drive.
Virtual Reality at BLT
At Brave Little Tank, we love new technology, so we love discovering the latest developments in VR. It’s something we’re really passionate about, and we want to help you realise the potential of Virtual Reality in your business.
As we mentioned previously, we are proud to have a HTC Vive VR headset at our Chatham HQ. So if you’d like to see for yourself how you could transport clients and customers into your very own virtual world, why not get in touch and arrange a visit?
Best of the rest 2018 releases
North of The Wall and outside the realms of Virtual Reality, here’s our top picks from the show.
You may recall Sony’s original robot dog, which was released in 1999. Well, he’s back, and he’s learned some new tricks!
Sony’s new and improved robotic pups are better in every way, with enhanced features and more realistic interactions. Aibo now has OLED eyes, giving it more nuanced expressions, as well as 22 points of articulation and various motion sensors that allow it to detect and interact with people, and other Aibo dogs.
A camera in Aibo’s nose allow it to see where it is going, and to identify people – Aibo will even act differently depending who he is playing with. The dog will learn from its owners and environment to develop its own unique personality.
Sony says Aibo’s main purpose, for now at least, is to be a companion robot. However, he could eventually become an adorable connectivity hub, functioning in a similar way to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
The Nvidia Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) looks just like a television, but in reality it is 65 inches of gaming perfection.
This new screen from Nvidia, features 4K LCD with HDR with G-SYNC tech, a Tegra X1 processor, and the Nvidia Shield Android TV interface. The monitor supports true high dynamic range (HDR) for games and other video sources, and a native 120Hz refresh rate.
In simple terms? That means a huge screen, with incredible resolution, that can keep up with all your gaming requirements with minimal lag.
Nvidia has partnered with HP, Asus and Acer, who will manufacture their own screen products under the BFGD model.
Throw out the simple Selfie Stick, this handheld smartphone gimbal has features you didn’t even know you needed!
Forget blurred images, as built-in sensors and brushless motors ensure seamless stability. DJI claim the stabiliser will remain steady even if the face of vibrations – say from a skateboard, or more intense instability – like jumping! Suitable for both Android and iOS phones, the Osmo 2 has an impressive 15 hours of battery life, and can even charge your mobile.
New features include a built-in zoom slider which lets you operate your smartphone camera completely from the handle, and a tripod mount on the base. The Osmo Mobile 2 is made from high-strength materials, yet weighs in at just 485g and folds away, so you can be ready to take that perfect photo or video whenever and wherever.
This is, by no means, a ground-breaking product! The reason people loved it is that it packs in a whole load of new features, yet is less than half the price than its predecessor – and massively undercuts its rivals. Who doesn’t love more for less?
One of the unexpected highlights of this year’s show was L’Oreal’s UV Sense. A wearable device that can track sun exposure levels, helping to reduce the risk of Skin Cancer.
Made in collaboration with influential tech designer Yves Béhar, L’Oreal built the wearable device to encourage people to take more notice of sun safety.
When you hear wearable, you probably first think of a fitness tracker like a FitBit, but the reason people are so excited by the UV Sense, is that it is tiny! Like, smaller than a thumbnail tiny! Measuring just two millimetres thick and nine millimetres in diameter, the button-like device measures your exposure level in the sun and communicates with a mobile app via NFC.
Perhaps, most significantly, the device doesn’t require a battery to operate. This product has huge potential to transform wearables of the future. Imagine a smartwatch that doesn’t need to be plugged in to charge, or a health tracker you can completely forget you’re wearing.
Let us know what you think…
Did you attend CES 2018? Have you been following eagerly online? Did we miss something you think is the next big thing? Tell us everything!