World Tech Update - CES 2015

IDG News Service | Jan 8, 2015

On WTU this week from CES in Las Vegas Sony debuts 4K for $1K, Intel squeezes a computer into a button and Toyota's fuel cell car is ready to hit the road. Follow host Nick Barber on Twitter @nickjb

Thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update. I'm Nick Barber. This week we're at CES in Las Vegas where the world's biggest tech companies gathered to give us a glimpse of the future. We'll start here at the Sony booth where the company announced a number of new products. Perhaps the most impressive is the new Sony 4K camcorder. The camcorder uses special optical image stabilization where the entire lens moves to compensate for shaking. At 1000 dollars the camera is half the price of the model it introduced last year. Sony also debuted a new 4K TV that at its thinnest point was only .2 inches. All of Sony's new TVs will run on the Android TV platform.

Intel outlined its vision for the future of computing and gave us a look at some of the technologies that will shape it. Intel touted its real sense depth sensing cameras, which are like next generation webcams that can detect movement and depth. That's important for a number of applications from gesture control to robotic autonomy.
Intel also talked about wearables and showed off Curie, what it calls the next generation in wearable computing. It includes a Quark SOC, a Bluetooth low energy radio and a variety of sensors that all run off a coin sized or rechargeable battery. The idea here is that as computing shrinks down it could be embedded into just anything from a ring, bag or even a button jacket. The Curie platform will be available in the second half of 2015.

Car tech was huge here at CES and I got a chance to go hands on with Ford Sync 3, the company's updated version of its in car infotainment system. It's come a long way since we first saw it at CES in 2008. The biggest difference is the interface. It's a lot more like your smartphone and tablet and the 8" capacitive touchscreen means it feels a lot more like it too. One area I wish they concentrated more on is voice search. If you're looking for the nearest Starbucks you can't say find Starbucks, you'd have to say find coffee. Sync 3 will rollout to select models later this year and be available across the Ford lineup by the end of next year.

Staying with car tech a new gadget from Parrot will turn your dumb car into a smart one. The RNB6 supports both Android Auto and Apply Car Play. It's meant to be an after market installation and while price wasn't announced an engineer told me it should be less than a thousand dollars when it comes out later this year. With the RNB6 you can pull up navigation, music and media in a familiar, but driver friendly format. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, but some work still needs to be done to work out some bugs and sluggishness we found during our initial tests.

Toyota is doubling down on hydrogen cars and made a big announcement here at the show.
Toyota's $50,000 fuel cell vehicle called the Mirai is ready to hit the road. As production begins to ramp up, the cars will be delivered to California and the northeast US where hydrogen fueling stations will be installed. The Mirai uses hydrogen to power its electric motors so the car has similar performance a gasoline powered counterpart. It can drive about 300 miles on a tank of hydrogen and it would take about 5 minutes to refuel. Hydrogen powered cars are seen as the future because the only byproduct from the car is water vapor.

This week wasn't all about cars and TVs though. LG debuted a new smartphone and some novel ideas for appliances. The G Flex 2 smartphone is built on a curved 5.5-inch display. LG said the curve will make it easier to use as a phone, and the keyboard will be more ergonomic. Its battery can also charge from 0 to 50 percent in about 40 minutes. On the appliance side LG introduced a twin washer, which is a mini washer below your main washing machine. It's designed for smaller loads and can be used as a pedestal with any LG washer.