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A Dip into the Future: Swim with Your Smartphone, Print Your Dinner

Posted by Ryan Manchee on January 24th, 2013 at 10:22 am

DG MediaMind’s Innovation Team descended upon Las Vegas for the annual technology gadget overload that is CES. This year’s show had a record-breaking exhibit space of 1.92 million square feet and over 150,000 folks attended. Out of all of the insanity, we spotted some exciting new trends that will shape the way we live in the not-too-distant future.

The Phone That Never Dies: Fully Charged with Qi
Until we can get through several days of a show like CES without charging up, we’ll constantly be looking for a better method for charging. Enter Qi (pronounced chee). This is a newish wireless charging standard that Nokia and HTC have included in recent mobile phone releases.

Imagine your phone charging magically by just placing it on your coffee table or even in your car’s cupholder. No more wires. No more cords, adapters, or charging stations. TDK is rolling out a Bluetooth boombox that even has a Qi plate so you can charge devices while jamming out. Since Apple may not ever enter the Qi party, aftermarket manufacturers have embraced the technology, and I was able to test a few cases that brought Qi charging to my iPhone 4s. It was simple and easy, plus it gave me a few more percentages to breathe life to my nearly dead device.

And while it didn’t use Qi, it is worth noting Qualcomm’s wireless charging mat showcased with an electric Rolls Royce. Cars are a mobile device, right? Imagine pulling into your garage and it charges up automatically. Again no plugs, connectors, or popping the power hatch – vehicle wireless charging…at least for the .01% (for now).

3D Printing: Print a Pizza for Dinner?
Printing isn’t just for boring documents anymore. There’s a huge growth of companies rolling out 3D printers – around every turn I was greeted by a freshly printed robot, deer head, life size human skull, or even an electric guitar. From talking with many of these groups it will be nice to see some of the experimentation beyond plastics and into metals, and even edibles!

This year and years to come, I expect we will see 3D printing expand beyond the "makers" and hobbyists and into the mainstream. I foresee a future not too far off where my son can buy a new Lego set online and print it out at home. Or maybe it’s my sister printing out a pizza for dinner.

We had a flip from brick and mortar stores to online shopping, and very soon we’ll enter a new phase where we can design, build and buy just about everything online and immediately have the object in our hands. Going into a store, next day delivery, or even delivery in 30 minutes or less will be a thing of the past.

Vapor Touchscreens and Smartphones Dipped in a Drink?
You’ve heard of a smoke screen, you’ve heard of touchscreens, but what about a touchscreen made of vapor? Kudos to DisplayAir for one of the coolest pieces of technology at the show. What I liked about the vapor touchscreen more than a pure gesture or camera-based approach (which were oddly missing from CES as far as I could tell) was the fact that even though you weren’t touching anything, you felt something as your fingers glided through the mist. And because it was projected on a fluid “screen” it felt 3D-like.

I’m not sure everyone will have one of these in their homes, but this type of novel approach does open some possibilities for how a user can interact with an interface. Plus it ties in nicely to all this working in the cloud talk.

Going from air to water is something of a lifesaver, or rather a device saver. HZ0 has come up with a way to block water and moisture in electronics. By nano-coating devices, they are impermeable to water – whether it is in the air, a splash, or even completely submerged. I witnessed iPhones and Androids dunked into water (and beer!) that kept showing video or playing audio while underwater. Luckily, my smartphone has always stayed dry, but I have plenty of friends whose phones have gone swimming in pools or toilets. It’s great to see a solution that doesn’t involve putting your device in a waterproof bag.

Multi-view TVs: TV for Two
The absolute highlight of the show was the multi-view 3D TVs. Imagine sitting on the sofa next to your significant other, and instead of one of you having to suffer through the other’s favorite show – you are each watching a completely different program. Same TV, two different shows. If that sounds awesome, it’s because it is.

Or what about playing a game? Why settle on a split-screen for each person, when each player can view their own player on the screen?

Now take this beyond just content and look at ads, or even product placement. Think about today’s online ad management systems with dynamic creative optimization. Let’s take this a step further into the future by including user profiles integrated in the 3D glasses, the 2nd screen device of the user, visual recognition, or even a combination. Hyper-targeted TV advertising. Yes, this may mean I may never see another feminine hygiene ad and my vegan wife may never have to see another meat product advertised.

Coupled with the new 4K/Ultra HD quality TVs, you’ve got realer than real life video that not only has the high quality but also the sweet spot of hyper relevancy to each consumer.

Let’s hope that all that was shown in Vegas doesn’t just stay in Vegas, and we start to see these new products and technologies available sooner rather than later.

I can’t wait to print out my sausage and mushroom pizza for dinner.

Ryan Manchee is DG MediaMind's resident technology visionary and creative strategist for North and Latin America, providing agencies, marketers and technology partners with a prescient and strategic perspective on the shifting media landscape.

Follow Ryan on Twitter at @rmanchee

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