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CES event explores consumer technology

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The Whirlpool booth was filled with new items. How about the ability to scan a barcode from a freezer item and the oven automatically sets the necessary timer and temperature? It will even learn individual preferences, such a leaning toward crispy pizza crusts. 5 / 7
The system designed to grow plants indoors year-round comes in several versions and price points. 6 / 7
A GrowWall allows indoor growing of plants -- vegetables and fruits -- without soil and using 90 percent less water than traditional outdoor gardens. It also allow growing of plants for healthy living year-round. The smallest version for up to 30 plants costs $199 and options go up from there to a 75 plant garden. 7 / 7

How will technology continue to change daily life this year and into the future?

That is one of the draws as more than 165,000 people descend on the 50th anniversary of the CES show in Las Vegas, presented by the Consumer Technology Association. The multi-day event is self described as the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.

Products showcased at the event include those with the ability to make for more convenient living—such as the Whirlpool washer and dryer in a single unit with the tagline of "never transfer loads again." Or consider scan-to-cook technology as the barcodes of frozen foods are scanned by a smartphone, which then sends cooking instructions straight to the microwave convection oven. The app then remembers if the user previously customized settings for an extra crispy pizza crust.

"The products and services unveiled at CES 2017 will touch nearly every single global industry," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association in a news release. "From the latest in virtual reality, smart home, self-driving vehicles, robotics, wearables, health and fitness tech and more, CES 2017 is unveiling the future of the connected experience and what it means for consumers around the world."

Andy Isackson and Michael Moroni, of Consolidated Telecommunications Co., are attending the technology conference this week and reporting on their experience for the Dispatch in print and online.

Other items are aimed at healthy lifestyles with a way to grow vegetables and fruit inside the home, year-round with GrowBox ($499) or GrowWall ($599), a soil-free, hydroponic growing technology with LED lights. The GrowBox supports up to 50 plants and the GrowWall vertical garden supports up to 75 plants. Both are promoted as needing 90 percent less water than traditional outdoor gardening and promise relatively labor-free gardening with additional options to monitor growth with real-time streaming video. GrowFarme offers a small way to start with a mini-garden that may also be vertically hung on the wall as healthy food in the making or "living art."

Among wearables is a Proof, a smart wrist band similar to many fitness trackers, that reads alcohol molecules over 12 hours through a disposable cartridge in the wristband. Proff reports the band uses a sensor to measure through the skin to determine a blood alcohol content. Updates are sent via smartphones and will provide info on when a body will also sober up.

Some of the tech trends:

• Smartphones are at a 74 percent market share.

• 5G was being used on the CES floor for real-time activities and virtual reality over wireless with 5G speed.

• Amazon Echo is making Alexa the hub for smart homes. It was a hot item for Christmas shoppers. Analysts looking at tech trends at CES reported a 63 percent growth and and $3 billion growth in smart home technology. The analysts reported massive improvements in voice recognition in the last 30 months and home devices are starting to fulfill promise to automate improvements for people.

• Fitness technology is moving closer to measuring data based on the specific sport to help a player improve performance or show a workout intensity with greater accuracy.

• Sleep technology is growing. This year at CES the topic is its own marketplace as sleep is getting the same attention as diet and exercise for overall good health in terms of technology.

• Virtual reality was a major focus this year at the show.

• And 4K ultra high-definition TV is now considered mainstream with a new trend in high dynamic range designed to enhance the TV experience. Other growth areas were seen in soundbars and wireless headphones.

The first CES kicked off in 1967, with 250 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees gathered in New York City. Since then, CES has grown by more than 10-fold and now encompasses both traditional and non-traditional tech industries.

Major innovations highlighted at the CES show over the decades include the VCR, compact disc players, high definition TV,

By the numbers at CES

• 3,800-plus indicates the number of companies exhibiting at the event.

• 6,500-plus media cover CES.

• 150 countries are represented.

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