Technology in 2014: Part 3

Posted 28/01/2014 by BrightHouse Team

For the last in this month’s series about technology in 2014 we’re going to take a look at some of the best products that came out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that took place in Las Vegas earlier in January. Every year the CES attracts the biggest names in consumer technology to show off their latest innovations and ideas to the public, and this year saw a host of exiting new products, from curved TVs to hydrogen powered cars.

We’ve chosen a few of our favourite products from the show:

Oculus Rift

We’ve been used to the idea of virtual reality for quite a while now, but it’s always just been a bit of a wacky novelty with little to get genuinely excited about. The Oculus Rift is changing all that. It’s been in development for a few years, and has been at CES before, but the prototype they showed this year is really starting to achieve what most of us dream of when we think of a virtual reality gaming experience.

This latest prototype is called Crystal Cove, and now includes head tracking, so as well as being able to turn your head to see all around you, you can also lean forward to look at things in-game, and even peer around walls. They’ve also nearly eliminated the blurring effect of turning your head quickly, which was previously spoiling the immersive experience, and causing some users to feel the effects of motion sickness. We’re confident that by the time the consumer version is finally released we’ll be able to enjoy mind-blowing virtual reality gaming.


Sony 4K Projector

While projectors have always been able to give us very large screens at home without actually having to try and fit one in your living room, the picture quality hasn’t been the best, and placing the projector itself can be a pain. But now Sony have created an ultra short throw, high resolution projector that sits right up against the wall in a stylish aluminium cabinet, and produces a stunning 147 inch 4K quality image. The housing is beautifully sleek and stylish, with built-in speakers and cabinet space for other electronics.

The projector itself only opens when the device is turned on, and the image size can be adjusted to suit your wall space or what you’re watching. You don’t have to worry about finding a spot somewhere behind your sofa to place it, or suspend it from the ceiling, and you won’t create a shadow every time you get up to make a cup of tea. While we don’t yet know precisely how much this device will cost, you can be sure it’ll be expensive. Really very expensive.


Razer Nabu

There are several fancy wearable smartwatches knocking around at the moment, such as the much-applauded Pebble Steel, but personally we’re most interested in this offering from the gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer. The Nabu is a stylish offering with two built in screens – one for discreet notifications about phone calls or messages on top, while turning your wrist reveals the other one showing the actual detail. This makes it a bit more private than other smartwatches, and makes it seem a little less showy.

The Nabu can also record information such your steps, sleep patterns, and heart rate, and these features can be turned on or off as you want. Just like other smartwatches, it can link to your smartphone in all sorts of ways, providing notifications and feedback, with neat features such as following someone on Twitter when you shake hands with them. We also like this device because it should be a bit cheaper than most of the other models on the market, with the Nabu most likely costing less than £100 when it’s released.


Steam Machines

No, this isn’t some kind of home sauna kit; this is the PC gaming giant Valve taking its Steam platform into the world of consoles. While PC gaming offers the best in visual quality and customisation, it can be daunting when it comes to buying or building one yourself, not least because of the price. Valve wants to make PC gaming more accessible by introducing a whole range of Steam Machines, essentially a self-contained PC using the SteamOS operating system, along with an innovative new controller. Valve have licensed their operating system to 13 different hardware companies, which will hopefully lead to a more dynamic and varied gaming console market beyond the current dual giants of PlayStation and Xbox.

Valve’s new controller does away with analog sticks, instead providing a pair of precise trackpads, and also features more buttons than either the Xbox or Playstation controllers. The interesting thing to see when these Steam Machines are released is how much they will cost. Some of the consoles are using some pretty high end components to cope with the demanding graphics of PC games, and while this means we can enjoy a fantastic gaming experience, it remains to be seen just how affordable these Steam Machines will be.


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