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Wired, weird and wonderful at CES

A smorgasbord of gadgetry, gimmicks and grand new technology – Cassandra Charlesworth takes a look at some of this year's offerings at CES in Las Vegas.

Showcasing everything from the latest smart home tech to robots, computers and so much more, this year the line-up of prototypes, concepts and real products at CES was as awe-inspiring as ever.

So without further ado, tell Siri to silence all calls and let’s dive right in.

The future of wireless internet was showcased at CES 2020, with Wi-Fi 6 now available in a host of affordable routers.

That’s a game-changer in many ways. Wi-Fi is how you connect wirelessly to the internet, and the latest incarnation is set to deliver faster internet speeds and the ability to connect more devices to a network.

So what will it mean?

Well, workplaces and homes could get a whole lot more productive when it comes to connected devices.

All those laptops, tablets, printers, IoT devices and even smartphones that connect to a wireless network will enjoy faster data transfer, increased bandwidth, and you’ll be able to have more on one network.

Twitter has enabled tighter controls of exactly who can now respond to your tweets.

At CES, they revealed a fresh feature that allows users to limit replies to followers or specific people mentioned in a tweet.

The improvement is designed to stop tweets being hijacked by trolls or overwhelmed with responses, and will also allow users to turn replies off altogether.

We’re still waiting on official word of exactly when this new feature will roll out.

Google’s able assistant will get more skilled, courtesy of a host of new features showcased at CES.

And yes, some of them will have major benefits for the workplace. In addition to greater brand compatibility with smart home devices, Google Assistant will also now feature sticky notes, speed dial, scheduled actions, and the ability to read online content.

Sticky notes will effectively be a digital version of your good-old tried-and-tested post-it note system, but will compile notes then display them on any compatible smart display.

Speed dial will allow you to put together all your important contacts and call them easily by saying “hey Google. Call ….”, while the ‘read online content’ feature will enable users to command their assistant to read text from web pages.

Meanwhile, scheduled actions are set to bring the smart home and smart office to life.

Now you’ll be able to give your Google Assistant routine tasks to complete at set times, like turning the coffee machine on at 6am or opening your smart blinds.

A consistent highlight of CES is the wild, wacky and awe-inspiring world of robots, and each year there’s something new to marvel at.

At CES 2020, Samsung showcased robotic arms that can whip up a mean salad.

Known as Samsung Bot Chef, it has 35 salad recipes programmed and happily rummages through the kitchen to source the ingredients.

A little assistance is required for tasks like cutting carrots, but by and large the robot can go it alone and will even pan fry some chicken.

Meanwhile, if you’ve run out of loo paper with no one to assist, you’ll be thrilled to learn there’s now a robot for that.

Resembling a futuristic panda, RollBot will navigate its way to you when you need him most, armed with a toilet roll on his head.

At CES, televisions are big business.

This year everything from 8K TVs to rollable and rotating sets were on display with all the biggest brands represented.

Amidst a massive line-up of improved TV tech, Samsung revealed a bezel-free 8K display along with a TV that can rotate from landscape to portrait mode and pair with a smartphone.

LG announced it would be releasing its 65-inch TV, which rolls up like a blind, later this year with a rumoured price point of US$60,000 (ouch).

In addition, LG is set to offer a smallersized OLED TV, which will come in at 48-inches, and is also incorporating 8K into its OLED line-up.

Over at Panasonic, it was slim pickings in terms of new reveals, but the set they did showcase offered a nifty new feature called Dolby Vision IQ.

The technology uses sensors to adjust the picture based on available light in a room.

Another trend apparent at this year’s CES was that health sensors are being incorporated into even more consumer devices.

This year Withings unveiled a watch that monitors your heart rate, blood oxygen levels and sleep pattern in a bid to identify sleep apnoea.

HealBe showcased new calorie tracking ability in its smart wrist bands, and Valencell revealed pressure sensing earbuds that can be used to identify hypertension.

And the title of ‘totally left of field’ at this year’s CES goes to Uber and Hyundai who, together, have plans for flying taxis.

That’s right, instead of rocking up to a future open home in your branded company car (heaven forbid), you could order and alight from an aerial Uber.

The two companies showcased a fullsized mockup of their electric plane known as Uberdai, which they believe will ferry passengers by 2023.

The plane can carry a pilot and three passengers up to 100km at speeds of up to 190km per hour and, in the future, could even be automated.

Of course, this just skims the surface of the thousands of products and new tech features on show at CES.

Some are set to make their way into our lives soon, while others will never see the light of day.

Regardless, it’s a snapshot into the future and a brave new world of innovation.

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