Digital health care set to star in Las Vegas [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A chance for companies to show innovations such as wearable tech and connected cars
More than 150,000 delegates and 3,200 companies are descending on Las Vegas to see the latest in technology.
This week's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the most important events in the sector, setting the tone for the year ahead for the global consumer electronics market, worth an estimated US$203 billion.
This year's edition of the show runs from tomorrow until Friday, though unofficially it kicks off with a series of sessions today.
Among the speakers scheduled to take to the CES stage are the chiefs of Sony, Yahoo, Twitter, Intel and Cisco.
Besides the flurry of new smartphone, tablet and television launches, this year's CES will have a strong focus on the evolution of technology already available, with connectivity playing the most vital role.
The CES has become a key platform for companies to showcase new technology. Over the years, the videocassette recorder, plasma TV, 3D TV and Microsoft's Xbox were all showcased at the CES.
Digital and mobile health care will take centre stage this time around as telecoms operators, app developers and healthcare providers continue to work together to develop health solutions for mobile platforms.
Digital health care has become one of the fastest growing trends over recent years as demand for health care and support grows around the world. A survey from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the organisers of CES, conducted last year revealed that 33 per cent of mobile-device owners have used their devices to track some aspect of their health in the past 12 months.
This year CES will have a digital health summit during the show.
This will overlap with wearable technology, which has quickly gained more acceptance among consumers after Samsung unveiled its digital watch in Berlin late last year.
Wearable technology is no longer a gimmick, but a viable purchase for many, particularly ones that help to monitor a user's health.
"Eventually sensors will be embedded in everything – our clothes, devices, appliances, doors, lights even cars. These billions of nodes will collect information digitally and use algorithms and ambient computing to talk to each other and 'learn' about our preferences," said Gary Shapiro, the president and chief executive of Consumer Electronics Association.
There will be more than 50 billion connected devices or things by 2020 according to Cisco. Everyday household items will eventually become connected to the internet. LG is showcasing "smart" home appliances that connect to a user's smartphone.
"LG's upgraded smart technology gives users the ability to control their appliances no matter where they are. They can start a load of washing while driving home from work, tell their robotic cleaner to vacuum the floor to receive unplanned guests or bring up a list of food items in the fridge," said Seong-jin Jo, the president and chief executive of LG Electronics Home Appliance Company.
No smart home would be complete without a smart car and this year more cars are being showcased at CES than ever before. Google demonstrated its driverless car in 2009 and GM, Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz have all been working on their own models. Audi will be unveiling several cars, one of which will be making a world premiere.
Toyota will be showing a new hydrogen fuel-cell concept car set for release in California in 2015.
"As the car has become more connected and consumers demand increased interaction between their mobile devices and their car, we have seen the number of auto manufactures at the International CES rise year after year," said Mr Shapiro. "CES touches every corner of the consumer technology economy, from digital health to automotive. We can't wait to welcome a record number of automotive manufacturers to the 2014 CES."
Analysts also expect to see smartphones or tablets powered by Google's newly released KitKat version of the Android mobile operating software.
And, while Microsoft no longer formally exhibits at CES, there should be an abundance of hybrid tablet-laptop computers built with the latest Windows software from the US technology titan, according to the Forrester analyst Frank Gillett.
"You will see a big push from Microsoft and Intel on two-in-ones, tablets with removable cordless keyboards that let you use a tablet as a PC," he said.
For the first time there will be a dedicated zone for 3D printing, which is set to become mainstream over the course of this year as manufacturers release more affordable printers.
According to figures from the CEA, about 63,000 consumer-use 3D printers were sold in 2013. The association expects sales of 3D printers to reach 91,000 units in 2014.
The first CES was held in 1967 in New York City. Since 1998 it has been held once a year in Las Vegas and is the biggest of its kind in the world. Last year 152,000 people attended.
* The National, with additional reporting by AFP
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