Welcome to the future: air taxis and robodogs

Gadgets and Gizmos: CES 2018 was launched yesterday, and will run until January 12th.

Are we getting tired of tech? Countless weird and wonderful new gadgets are being launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Here are five ways your life could change…

1/ Homes are getting even smarter. Last year the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was all about Amazon’s Alexa, the voice-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) “assistant” that helps to run your life. This year everything from ceiling lights to bathroom mirrors is set up to use the technology.

2/ Technology that cares about your health. Glasses that improve your sight. An eye mask that vibrates to stop you snoring. A virtual reality (VR) gym. There is no doubt that “digital health” is one of the biggest tech trends so far this year.

3/ Autonomous transport. This is not just about self-driving cars. CES 2018 has also featured self-driving buses and the Volocopter, an “air taxi” which is essentially a giant drone with a passenger seat.

4/ The robots are coming. But there was an awkward moment when LG Cloi, a small droid which helps run your home, refused to respond on stage. Elsewhere the humanoid robot Sophia can now walk, and Sony’s robot dog Aibo has a camera in its nose.

5/ Mixing reality. Many companies are focused on augmented reality (AR). This is when graphics are layered on top of the world around you, as in Pokemon Go. So far it mostly does this through smartphones, but yesterday a pair of AR “smartglasses” was unveiled.

Peak tech?

This is all getting a bit Black Mirror, worry some. Technology is finding its way into every area of our lives, supposedly to keep us safer, healthier, and happier. But the opposite is just as likely. What’s more, if we rely on it too much we will stop being able to do anything for ourselves.

Calm down, respond others. People always say that new technology will be bad for society, but in the end we always adapt to it just fine. CES celebrates human ingenuity. We should be excited for all of the ways the gadgets can change our lives.

You Decide

  1. Which of the products described in this article will be the most popular?

Activities

  1. Twenty years ago, the technology world was abuzz with the emergence of DVD players. Now, it is artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and robots. Write down five trends which you think might appear at CES in another 20 years. Be creative!

Some People Say...

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”

Aldous Huxley

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The Consumer Electronics Show has been held since 1967. It attracts hundreds of start ups alongside major brands. It is a trade show, meaning that it is about showing off new ideas and prototypes; many of the products are not yet available for ordinary people to buy.
What do we not know?
Which of the products launched at CES will be big this year.

Word Watch

Amazon’s Alexa
The AI assistant can tell jokes, check your calendar, and shop online. It is most commonly found in Echo speakers, but perhaps not for much longer.
Sophia
A robot designed to look and sound like a human. On Monday, she took her first steps in public. She currently has a top speed of 30cm per second.
Smartglasses
The glasses respond to voice commands and project images onto their lenses.
Black Mirror
A TV show created by Charlie Brooker, which imagines how technology will shape the near future (often for the worse).

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