Edge of Innovation

The newest, fastest, cuddliest and weirdest tech for 2018

by Dean Evans
Technology Writer

Now that the dust has settled and the neon has cooled after CES 2018, we can look back on the things we learned from the world’s biggest tech show. If CES shapes the year ahead, then 2018 is going to be a year of giant displays, fast laptops, sleep robots and virtual assistants.

How big can displays get? Samsung’s Wall concept is a 146 inch modular TV constructed from several bezel-less MicroLED panels. Theoretically, this allows the Wall to be as big as you like (e.g. wall-sized) and any shape that you like.

Big Format Gaming Displays

For gamers, NVIDIA has an initiative that it calls Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGD). This will involve manufacturers such as ASUS, Acer and HP incorporating G-Sync and NVIDIA Shield technology into a new range of 120Hz 65-inch 4K HDR displays.

A screen isn’t the only way to play the likes of Far Cry 5 and Sea of Thieves in 2018. Short throw projectors could provide a cinematic alternative. Sony’s 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector (LSPX-A1), for example, can shine a 120-inch UHD image onto a suitable wall from a distance of only 9.6 inches. The catch? It costs $30,000 (£21,000).

Sony’s 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector
The LSPX-A1 short throw projector can display a 120-inch image from a distance of only 9.6 inches.

This year will also see companies trying to squeeze more performance and functionality into their products. The newest SanDisk USB-C thumbdrive, for example, features a whopping 1TB of storage crammed into a stick little bigger than the average house key. While Jabra’s Jabra Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t wireless earbuds come packing Amazon Alexa.

In fact, virtual assistant technology is spreading to all sorts of devices. It’s starting to appear in new TVs (like those from Sony and Hisense), smart fridges (LG’s Smart InstaView line-up), cars (Toyota joins Ford, BMW and Nissan in this regard), AR glasses (Vuzix is getting an Alexa upgrade), as well as laptops (from the likes of Acer and ASUS).

Hands-free voice control of your PC

Intel is helping to improve the Alexa for PC experience by offering support for hands-free voice control — Intel Smart Sound Technology delivers crisp, rich audio, while Intel Wake on Voice functionality will ensure that Alexa-equipped PCs (like the HP Pavilion Wave) are ready to hear the “wake” word and start responding immediately.

Amazon’s voice technology will not only give Microsoft’s Cortana some competition in new Acer Aspire, Acer Switch and ASUS Zenbook/Vivobook hardware, but it will also appear in home robots too. We might even be able to buy the Aeolus Bot, LG Cloi, Sony Aibo and Kuri automatons this year, potentially kicking off a new trend for social technology.

HP Pavilion Wave
The HP Pavilion Wave features Alexa AI and Intel Smart Sound Technology.

In terms of performance, we can look forward to an upgraded HTC Vive Pro this year, boasting a higher-resolution display and a wireless adapter. While laptops featuring 8th Generation Intel Core processors with Vega M discrete graphics (like the latest HP Spectre x360 15) point the way to more powerful and capable portables to come.

So far, so serious. But 2018 will also have its fair share of oddball products. As far as the weirdest tech for the 2018 goes, Somnox has come up with the Smart Sleep Robot (pictured top), a cuddly grey pillow that expands and contracts as if it’s breathing. It plays lullabies or soothing noises too.

Sweet-smelling (and stinky) technology 

Elsewhere, Invi has developed a stink bomb in a bracelet, designed to combat muggings and assaults. While Moodo’s Smart Home Fragrance Box wants to replace your scented candles with wireless, smartphone-controlled, mix-and-match fragrance capsules.

And after smart fridges, smart ovens and smart washing machines, it should come as no surprise that there’s now a smart toilet. The Kohler Numi can light up, play music, features Touchless Flush technology and comes with a heated seat (temperature adjustable via a companion app).

2018 will undoubtedly be a year of wonders.

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