From bendable smartphones to driverless cars, these upcoming technological advances will change your daily routine on the job.
This could be your future: You’re driving hands-free, taking your visitors on a city tour. While you’re behind the wheel – though you’re not actually steering the car – you pull from your pocket a bendable smartphone or tablet and bring up locations for nearby coffee shops. Then you remember you left the lights on and the door unlocked at home. No problem, you use your smart phone to turn off the lights and lock the doors. Some of these capabilities are already here – or are coming soon.
Here’s at peek at the latest tech from the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show.
Wearable tech is a big buzzword right now. The smartwatch business alone is expected to grow from 400,000 shipments this year to 35 million by 2017, according to market research firm Berg Insight. Watchmaker Pebble touts a $249 Pebble Steel smartwatch with leather or metal straps. It can connect to apps from iOS or Android devices for accessing e-mails, calendar alerts, news updates, social media accounts and maps.
It is anticipated that for the technology to fully catch on it will need to have voice-control capability and connect to all your smartphone apps so that you don’t ever have to take out your phone.
Several products are being developed with the goal of creating “connected homes,” which will allow for greater control and monitoring of home appliances and systems from a smartphone. The tech is getting more affordable and simpler to use, mostly through smartphone apps, and could make the connected homes more mainstream within the next decade, says Matt Rogers, cofounder of Nest, a home technology manufacturer recently purchased by Google.
Real estate pros, filmmakers, land surveyors and farmers, among others, are waiting for the green light for drone use. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release rules addressing safety and privacy issues for commercial drone use next year.D
Drone manufacturing company Parrot has an upcoming MiniDrone, which can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet to shoot photos and video while flying up to 160 feet high. It also has wheels to climb walls or move across ceilings. It is slated to debut later this year, and while the price has not yet been announced, it is expected to be cheaper than the company’s upgraded $300 A.R. Drone. Also, global drone manufacturer DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision, retailing for about $1,200, can snap 14-megapixel images and record high-definition video.
Could texting while driving one day be safe? Automakers are racing to release the first publicly available self-driving car. Manufacturers such as Audi, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and BMW, among others, are testing the technology. Officials with Bosch, a global automotive supplier, says the company is about seven to 10 years away from having a fully automatic powered car on the roads.
The cars use 360–degree sensors without human intervention for accelerating, braking, maneuvering turns and parking. Driverless cars have been approved by lawmakers for experimentation in several states, including California, Nevada and Florida.
LG Electronics has created a smartphone that bends. The LG G Flex is the first smartphone with a flexible screen, and has just become available to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile customers, starting at $600. Wireless carriers offer a steep discount with a contract. The G Flex features a 6-inch display and a slightly curved screen at the top and bottom. LG officials say the curved screen offers better sound, voice and picture clarity. You can also bend it slightly without cracking the screen. Smartphone manufacturers as a whole are focusing on curvier devices. Samsung has launched its flexible Galaxy Round phone in South Korea, while Apple was granted a patent in 2013 for a curved display back, which has some tech forecasters predicting curvier, more bendable shapes for future Apple devices.
Smith says bendable glass helps protect devices from shattering. Bendable glass offers a way to keep the devices looking the way they were built as well as some protection against breakage.