CES Roundup – Connected TVs, Wearables & Robots at the forefront in 2014
Connected Television –
LG resurrected fallen iOS competitor WebOS in the South Korean giant’s new range of “Smart TV” connected televisions. The platform — which LG says will power 70 percent of its connected sets in 2014 — sports a slick user interface and has been bestowed with several useful touches, like the ability to recognize when a user connects an external device and present contextually-relevant menu options.
The new sets come bundled with apps for popular services including YouTube, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, and users will be able to download new apps and content from the LG Store. LG has not yet released pricing or availability information.
Meanwhile, streaming content company Roku announced partnerships with Chinese manufacturers TCL and Hisense for their own connected television platform, Roku TV. Under the agreements, the same software that powers Roku’s popular streaming boxes will be adapted and pre-loaded on sets from the two TV makers.
Not content to stop at televisions, LG also unveiled two new wearable fitness devices on Monday. The Lifeband Touch is a wrist-worn activity tracker similar to a Nike Fuelband, while LG’s Heart Rate Earphones are Bluetooth-enabled in-ear headphones that measure biometric data like heart rate and maximum oxygen consumption from the external portion of the ear.
Lifeband Touch sports an OLED display that, in addition to the time and standard biometric data, can be configured to relay notifications from a connected smartphone. The Heart Rate Earphones can also be configured to send data to the Lifeband Touch for display. Both devices are slated for release in the first half of 2014 with pricing yet to be determined.
The wearable parade continued with the Polar V800, a combination fitness tracker and GPS wristwatch. Polar’s entry provides more granular detail than most other activity trackers, collating data from individual training sessions to forecast recovery time and help users get adequate rest between sessions.
French technology company Parrot announced two new iOS-controlled robotic devices, a small jumping robot dubbed the Jumping Sumo and a miniature flying drone the firm is calling the MiniDrone.
The Jumping Sumo is a two-wheeled, floor-bound bot that the publication says can make near-instant 180-degree turns and spring-assisted jumps up to three feet, while the MiniDrone is a palm-sized quadrocopter. Both devices are controlled with iOS apps and feature built-in cameras.
At the same time, Orbotix unveiled a second-generation remote-controlled device of its own, showing off the new, tubular Sphero 2B. The Sphero 2B is a ruggedized version of the iOS-controlled toy sold in Apple Stores around the world, featuring knobby, replaceable tires and new multiplayer games.
AT&T Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega announced that the carrier plans to support HD Voice on its network sometime this year. HD Voice uses wideband technology — including new audio codecs and an expanded audio range — to vastly improve the audio quality of mobile phone calls and reduce background noise.
So quite a lot to look forward to this year! Stay tuned!