Future perfect: The best gadgets on show at CES 2018

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For some, January means runny noses, sun deprivation, and a list of new year's resolutions waiting to be broken.

But for those with a taste for tech, it marks the first opportunity to take a peek at the gadgets of tomorrow at the Consumer Electronics Show (better known as CES) in Las Vegas.

Although there's no guarantee the products shown at CES will ever see the light of day, the tech-packed show floor gives us an idea of what concepts and ideas the world's biggest companies are toying with, and is generally an indication of where the market is heading as we gaze into the future.

This year's showcase featured plenty of curiosities, including the return of robotic pets and self-driving smartcubes, so now that we've got your interest, here are some of the coolest gadgets and ideas on show at CES 2018.

Sony Aibo

This year's show saw the resurrection of Sony's Aibo robotic companion, just over 11 years after the computerised canine was discontinued. Much like the older models, the shiny new robo-pooch will be able to learn from its owners and surroundings to develop its own unique personality, learn tricks, and generally become the perfect artificial companion.

Of course, advances in robotics and artificial intelligence mean the modern pups also move and behave more naturally, while each Aibo can also utilise deep learning technology to analyze information more clearly. On the design front, OLED panels let each pesky doggo display a wide range of expressions, and these technological tykes even come equipped with WiFi connectivity and location mapping tech. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Honda 3E Robotics

Honda's 3E Robotics initiative is curious because it's founded on the idea that by designing robots that complement each other, we can create a better world. The 3E in the name stands for "Empower, Experience, Empathy," and each of Honda's robots has been tailor-made to help humans in one or more of those arenas.

The car-maker showed off four such bots at CES, among which was an off-road self-driving buggy that can be used in rescue zones and hazardous environments, and another designed to interact with humans and forge genuine emotional connections. They're all smart, practical, and undeniably cute, and might just be the first step on the road to creating a society where humans and robots can live, work, and even play side by side.

Samsung's "The Wall" Television

Tech giant Samsung unveiled plenty of gadgets during its First Look CES event, but we're not sure there were any slicker than the company's "The Wall" modular television. Pitched as "the world's first consumer modular MicroLED television," the super-slim bezel-less tele is built using tiny LEDs that serve as their own source of light, eliminating the need for colour filters or a backlight.

In short, that means "The Wall" can be customised to fit your exact needs, and isn't restricted by things like shape, size, or resolution. It's a television designed to work around you, whether you're after a super-sharp streamlined screen for your office, or a 146-inch monster for your living room.

Lenovo Smart Display

The Lenovo Smart Display is an intelligent hub for your smart home. The minimalist slate combines a vibrant full HD touchscreen with Google's very own virtual assistant, but this isn't your run-of-the-mill tablet. The Lenovo is built to work specifically with the Google Assistant, and is being pitched as a more versatile, visual alternative to the Amazon Alexa and Google Home smart speakers that've quickly become all the rage.

While you might not be sold on the idea of slapping screens all over your house, the Lenovo does have some advantages over its audio-only counterparts. For starters, the fact that it sports a screen means it can convey lots of information at once, such as recipes and directions, without having to reel off a long list of verbal instructions. It also makes for a more all-purpose device, with the Smart Display's built in camera and high-def screen making it perfect for video calls, using apps like YouTube and Spotify, and managing a wide array of smart devices.

Toyota e-Palette

What will the roads of tomorrow look like? Well, if Toyota gets its way, they'll be filled with transparent self-driving cubes carrying parcels, passengers, and pizza. Dubbed "e-Palettes," the fully-automated minimalist transports are designed to be scalable and customisable for a range of businesses, and can be kitted out for all manner of tasks that include, as we mentioned earlier, ferrying succulent margheritas from one side of town to the other.

The company showed a slick concept video showing how e-Palettes might operate, and it looks like a sort of futuristic paradise. A world overflowing with roaming stores, hotels, restaurants, and curvaceous shuttles whisking folk from Point-A to Point-B. Whether or not the e-Palette will ever see the light of day remains to be seen, but it's certainly a concept with the potential to reshape urban life.

Ossia Cota Forever Battery

Tech firm Ossia wants to put an end to the wastage caused by disposable and rechargeable batteries by offering an effective, seamless solution. Enter the "Forever Battery," a wireless AA that's constantly powered via hidden signals sent out from tiny "Tile" transmitters that can be dotted around the home.

Forever Batteries don't need to be in a Tile's direct line of sight to receive power, meaning they can be left in their various devices indefinitely. Each transmitter can also charge multiple batteries at once, powering an entire network of tiny, eco-friendly powerpacks. What's more, if you put a Forever Batter in an older 'dumb' gadget, you'll be able to control it using the Cota Cloud web platform or mobile app. It's an elegant, universal power solution that could make the world a better place. What more could you want?

Chris Kerr is a blogger with an interest in all things tech. From gadgets to gaming, he is always on the look-out for the next big thing. When not testing the latest FPS or RPG, he can be found watching Sean Bean films and contributing to publications including Gamasutra, Stuff and IB Times. Find out more here.

 

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