Tech buzzwords of 2015 (part 1): Quantum dots, superMHL and 5th generation processors


The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an annual glimpse into the gadgets of tomorrow and every year there are a handful of technology terms you might not have encountered before. Terms like quantum dots, superMHL, Ring Radiators, RealSense, fifth generation processors and autonomous irrigation. Here’s a crash course.

Quantum dots are nanocrystals that are being used in new TVs like the 65-inch LG UF9400 to improve the colour and efficiency of the LCD panel. LCD technology has never been able to match the vibrancy of plasma and OLED. But it’s cheaper to produce and more readily available. LED backlighting can wash out colours, so a layer of quantum dots can be added to boost and tune primary colours, delivering OLED-style picture quality without an OLED-style price tag.

You’ve probably heard about OLED, but you might not have heard of MHL, let alone superMHL. Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) is a way of connecting mobile devices to HD televisions and the MHL 3.0 format supports video up to 4K (Ultra HD) resolutions. SuperMHL is being prepped as the successor to HDMI, capable of piping an 8K stream to a compatible telly at a buttery-smooth 120 frames per second.

Quantum dot TV and Broadwell tablet
LG’s new LCD TVs feature Quantum Dot technology. The Dell Venue 8 tablet uses a new fifth generation Intel Core processor.

When you buy your next laptop, there’s a good chance it will have Intel’s fifth generation Core processor inside. A vanguard of new 14nm Core i3, i5 and i7 ‘Broadwell’-series CPUs were announced at CES 2015, powering a new breed of thin and light laptops in the shape of the Lenovo LaVie Z and Dell XPS 13. The new chips are smaller and use less power, boosting battery life without sacrificing performance. They also feature support for…

RealSense. Another Intel innovation. You’ll find this depth-sensing camera technology is extraordinarily versatile. Capable of viewing the world in three dimensions like a human eye, RealSense can be used to control software with gestures rather than touch, scan objects and transform them into 3D models, even to refocus a photo ‘after’ you’ve taken it. Look out for the Dell Venue 8 7000 series tablets, the first devices to feature it.

Samsung unveiled two Ring Radiator speakers at CES 2015, designed to boom out sound in a 360 degree ‘ring’. The large WAM7500 model perches on a stand like a giant white rugby ball waiting to be kicked; the WAM6500 is half the size and comes with a handle on top so that it can be moved easily around a room.

Ring Radiator and Parrot Pot from CES 2015
Samsung’s Ring Radiator speakers deliver 360 degrees of audio. The Parrot Pot can automatically water your plants.

The appeal of the Consumer Electronics Show is more than new TVs and thinner laptops, phones, drones and futuristic automobiles. It’s about the smaller, quirkier products too, such as the Emiota self-tightening ‘smart belt’ and whole body vibration fitness machines. It’s here, that our last buzzwords fit in.

Autonomous irrigation describes any combination of soil sensor and water delivery system that automatically tends your plants. At one end of the scale, you’ve got the Edyn Garden Sensor – stick it into the ground and you can use a smartphone app to monitor the weather and soil conditions in your garden. At the other is the Parrot Pot, a smart plant pot with a built-in water source that auto-irrigates with minimal effort.

And if ‘minimal effort’ isn’t the whole point of technology, I don’t know what is.

More? Read: Tech buzzwords of 2015 (part 2): WiGig, procedural generation and clever WattUp-ery


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