Huge bendy TVs and tiny computers on horizon at CES in Las Vegas

Sony, Samsung and Intel were among those unveiling amazing devices

Electronics giant Samsung is helping to define this year's "big picture" with a curved 105 inch television that will surely give new meaning to technicolor. Wearable devices are also among the hot items at CES.

Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 11:44

Sony kicked off the first official day of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by drawing clear battle lines for its rivals.

Its president, Kaz Hirai, went on the offensive with a keynote speech that talked of Sony’s ability to deliver “wow” moments to consumers through new technology and the possibility of creating a new concept of consumer electronics.

With a nod to Sony’s Japanese heritage, the Sony boss talked of making an emotional connection with consumers, through “kando”. “The wow happens when your senses are engaged,” he said.

Sony is hoping the new products and technology it announced yesterday will go a long way to achieving that connection with consumers, with 4K televisions and content high on its agenda for the coming year. Also part of its plans is high-resolution audio, which offers better sound quality than MP3 and CD, and uses lossless capture of original analogue audio sources for digital files.

At its press conference on Monday, Sony pushed big on both areas, expanding its line of 4K televisions and unveiling a new 4K camcorder that would cost about $2,000 in the US.

Speaking at the CES keynote, Mr Hirai said Sony was examining culture and consumers. “On the horizon, we see a next-generation consumer different than anything before them,” he told attendees, dubbing them “generation remix”. This new breed of consumer has grown up with technology, digital natives that use technology rather than let it control them.

‘Sensing the unseen’
He also predicted advanced imaging technologies that could help areas such as medicine and the car industry, by “sensing the unseen”.

The company used the stage at CES to announce the availability of its Playstation Now streaming gaming service across multiple devices, and a new cloud-based television service for the US.

Samsung, meanwhile, is also betting big on 4K. The company showed off a 105-inch screen on Monday that curves at the touch of a button. It’s intended to make the viewer feel more immersed and reduce the distortion created by viewing angles.

But it was director Michael Bay who stole the show at Samsung’s press conference – although maybe not for the reasons that either party hoped. A mishap with a teleprompter left the director stuck for words, leading to an abrupt departure from the stage and leaving Joseph Stinziano, Samsung’s executive vice president for home entertainment, to smooth over the unexpected development.

Bay later took to his website to offer an explanation, saying he had “embarrassed” himself. “I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing,” he said.

Wearable technology was everywhere, with companies from LG to Sony showing off their plans to make their mark in the budding market.

Wearable marvels
It also presents some companies with new opportunities. Chipmaker Intel, which fell behind in the mobile chip market in recent years, seems determined to solve that problem with a focus on the wearable market. At its press conference on Monday, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich discussed the company’s plans for a new smartwatch, a headset with a digital voice assistant built-in and earbuds with a heart-rate monitor. A charging “bowl” that can power multiple devices dropped inside was also displayed. But one of the most interesting announcements was Edison, Intel’s new system on a chip that could bring forth a new generation of tiny computers. The same size as a Micro SD card inside your phone, it has wifi and Bluetooth, runs Linux and is powered by a dual-core Quark processor.

These tiny computers could lead to a whole new era of smart devices, with the focus of the demonstration on Monday on how the technology could be used to sense when a baby is stirring, and automatically start to heat food at meal times.

CES runs until January 10th.

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