By Michael Buchanan
Want to know what’s next in tech? The International Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to start.
Thousands of companies descended on Las Vegas in early January to show off cutting-edge car concepts, super-thin TV screens, next-generation phones and the latest in oddball gadgets.
Here are some of the highlights:
Alexa was everywhere at this year’s show. She’s not a person, but a virtual assistant who can perform more than 7,000 tasks based on voice commands. Alexa can now inhabit your smart refrigerator, tell you what’s inside without opening the door, make shopping lists and chat about the news and weather. Alexa, from Amazon.com Inc., also made it into voice-controlled lights, speakers and even robotic vacuums.
Jeans that do what?
Ever tried to find your friends but didn’t want to pull out your phone and map app? French designer Spinali Design has you covered with these jeans. Here’s how it works: Punch in directions on your phone and then put your phone in a pocket. Sensors on the sides of the jeans will buzz left or right when you need to make a turn. This tech gives “hip” a new meaning.
The auto industry seems to be speeding into an autonomous future, judging by the carmakers’ concepts introduced at the conference.
Fiat Chrysler showcased the design of its latest, the Portal. The car is self-driving and all-electric, with screens and movable seating around an open cabin. Facial-recognition technology lets the car customize driver and passenger settings, and passengers can share movies and music with each other.
And one more thing …
You may wonder if the world really needs an internet-connected hairbrush. The tech company Withings says yes. Its battery-operated brush pairs with mobile phones and provides tips for tracking and improving hair health.
Some trends take time to catch on. The VCR (you remember — those videocassette recorders used for movies?) became popular 17 years after its debut at the 1970 Consumer Electronics Show.
What new tech do you hope catches on?