Five innovations we´re dying to see at CES 2011

05 Jan 2011


CES 2011 is packed to the rafters with new innovations. Each year, innovative new startups and tech giants alike wheel out their new inventions at the show in Vegas. We're not just talking fresh products either, sometimes the most interesting CES launches are the technologies fresh from the R&D labs.

In previous years CES has played host to 3D TV, gesture control technology and wireless electricity. Those debuts heralded the arrivals of 3D Blu-ray and Sky 3D, Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move, as well as new charging technologies from companies such as Powermat.

At CES 2011 we're looking forward to more fresh tech than ever. Our predictions are below. Excited yet? You should be.

1. Daylight-harnessing screen tech
For years we've been making do with LCD or OLED screens in our portable gadgets, when neither are really perfect for use in direct sunlight. In 2011, we're looking forward to the first crop of screens to really perform in direct sunlight. E-Ink technology, like that found in gadgets such as the Amazon Kindle, come close but are limited to greyscale images. This year, we want to see colour.

Technologies such as Mirasol displays from Qualcomm will be the first to appear, bringing full colour images and even video that don't wash out at the first sign of a sunbeam, ready to be snatched up by other manufacturers for use in completed gadgets. Pixel Qi will go a step further, and are expected to show off a new e-reader with a colour screen that works beautifully, even in sunlight. Watch CES for some colourful e-reader developments.

2. Dual core phones
Smartphones have seen vastly increased processor speeds in recent months, but the next step isn't a faster processor, it's more processors in the same amount of physical space: dual core chips will give mobile phones tons more power, and let them multitask even while running complex apps.

ARM and its licensees, such as Qualcomm and Samsung, will be showing off dual core processors at CES 2011, and the first dual core phone to use them, the LG Optimus 2X, has already been announced. It'll be the first of many. Expect a ton more at CES in January.

3. Glasses-free 3D
If 2010 was the year 3D TV went mainstream, 2011 will be the year we ditch the specs that came with it. Sharp has been ploughing its research into 3D screens which don't need glasses for years and in 2011 the first product to use them, the Nintendo 3DS, will hit store shelves.

But that's not all. Sharp's working on tablet-sized screens which show 3D pictures without glasses, while Toshiba and Sony are working on the same thing for TV-sized screens. The technology is known as autostereoscopic display, and will hit the big time in the next 12 months.

4. Ultra high-speed data
As computers and portable gadgets cram more storage under their shiny skins technology to transfer it between them is playing catchup. Not companies such as Intel are brewing up ultra high-speed tech to get the job done.

Intel's Light Peak technology uses optical cables to move data between two devices at eye-popping speeds, and is set to launch in 2011, with computer manufacturers such as Apple rumoured to have pledged support for it already. Tired of waiting for your iPod or iPhone to sync? In 2011 Light Peak could get the job done in seconds, and without too much of a wait.

5. Thin client PCs
A new generation of operating systems is looming on the horizon, but you won't find them on your desktop PC. Google's first Chrome OS laptops go on sale in 2011, blending the best bits of a mobile OS with the power and functionality of a laptop.

Bundled with a data connection, Chrome computers sync your preferences from the web, so any Chrome laptop you use feels just like your own. You can also wipe your laptop remotely if it's ever lost.

Because Chrome laptops need very little local storage, or too much power, the hardware should be cheaper than typical computers too. Look forward to more flexibility, more functionality and a lower price in laptops throughout the new year.