New tech and innovative design: Highlights from CES 2017

CES, the world’s leading consumer electronics show, takes place in Las Vegas at the very start of each year. It is here that the tech world reveals its latest inventions and where we can tap into trends that will impact on us in the year (or years) ahead. In its 50th year, the displays can range from practical propositions to quite outlandish ones, wacky designs and niche, pointless products that, as inventive as they may appear here, have little relevance in the real world.

This year the exhibits were the expected mix of smart televisions and electronic gadgets, drones, virtual and augmented reality, and of course self-driving vehicles. LG showed a super-thin OLED TV screen, PowerVision’s PowerRay is a drone that swims under water to help catch fish, the Asus Zenfone AR smartphone proposes more advanced augmented reality, and Misfit Vapor is another take on the smart watch.

Faraday Future FF91 at CES 2017
Faraday Future FF91 self-driving car


With the paradigm shift in the automotive world to the car as consumer technology, it’s not surprising to see transport feature so heavily at CES. After all cars today have more technology in them than our homes.

Audi has been working towards perfecting the self-driving car for some time. I was a passenger in a autonomous A7 on the streets of Shanghai a couple of years back, and can report that although a pretty hairy ride given the local driving habits, it was also an amazing experience.

This year, along with Mercedes-Benz, Audi announced its partnership with tech firm Nvidia to deliver the next stages of its driverless cars that are stepping into the artificial intelligence territory. The two rivals have both said such an artificial intelligence car will be tested on our roads in the next 12 months.

Elsewhere, BMW has further developed its gesture-controlled technology debuted at CES in 2014 with a new in-car control concept called HoloActive Touch. This free-floating display intelligently responds to simple gestures from the driver without the need to touch the control interface. Whilst Hyundai’s Mobility Vision is a smart home fused with a smart self-driving car so you’ll never need to leave your vehicle.

CES is also a welcoming venue for companies outside the more established auto world to showcase their vehicle solutions. This year we saw Faraday Future unveil an autonomous electric car that the start-up says can accelerate from zero to 60mph in just 2.39 seconds. This makes it faster than the industry-leading electric Tesla Model S.

The FF91 is very high tech but fails on delivering much of the romance associated with the motor car. Of course, as this shift in automotive widens, so will our perception of the car, and especially that of younger generations who are not so emotionally connected to personal transport.

The likes of Faraday will probably not last – the company is already facing financial troubles – but what they do is to encourage the bigger automotive companies to push forward, to forge ahead with new and exciting technology at a much higher speed than they would have if such competition didn’t exist.

BMW HoloActive Touch at CES 2017
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