CES 2018: Augmented Reality, Smart Devices, and Self-Driving Cars

It’s that time of year once again, when CES rolls back around and gives us a glimpse into the cutting edge tech coming to stores in the near (and sometimes far) future. It’s the good, the bad, and the mind blowing that gives every big manufacturer a chance to strut their stuff and bring out a few of their biggest innovations to an audience that’s been surviving off rumors and teases for the barren months of the holiday season.

CES has lost a bit of ground over the last several years, as more and more manufacturers move towards their own privately hosted venues and locations, but even if CES itself has lost some traction the dates surrounding the event are consistently full of some of the year's biggest reveals in computer hardware and consumer technology. So let’s take a moment and dig through the rumors, the early teases, and some of the likely trends we’ll see this year at CES 2018.

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality Across the Floor

Virtual Reality has been a key theme at CES for several years now, and it’s likely that we’ll see a presence, if not a full-blown announcement from several of the big names in the industry this year. Hopefully, this includes some new toys from HTC and Valve, particularly regarding their Knuckles Vive controllers, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Sony and Oculus wait until later in the year to reveal things about Project Santa Cruz and the PSVR’s latest games at Oculus Connect, PlayStation Experience, and E3. Google on the other hand could have big news to reveal about Google Daydream, considering they plan to have their first large presence at CES this year.

Thanks in part to the release of Apple’s ARKit software, Augmented Reality could take center stage this year. So, expect a lot of fancy tech that adapts this technology into fancy wearables, AR games, and various quality of life options across the show floor. On the Microsoft side, we could see something new this year to bring the HoloLens back from the dead, but third party headsets from Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, and a host of other companies are likely to get more attention.

Smart Cars, Tron Cars, and Everything Sci-Fi

CES has gotten quite the reputation for becoming as much a car show as a tech show in recent years, and this year will likely be another playground for luxury vehicles right out of a science fiction novel, leaps in self-driving tech, and concept cars that blow minds.

Of particular interest, Nissan has announced that they plan to bring their Nissan Brain to Vehicle Technology to CES 2018, a tech that reportedly allows a vehicle to interpret brain waves to improve response time and gauge the driver’s needs using adapted augmented reality. We’re guessing this could range from detecting driver awareness, to potentially even adapting climate control based on thought rather than manual input.

It’s a concept that’s pretty wild, and we likely won’t see any working prototypes anywhere but at the show for the foreseeable future, but like a lot of car concepts at CES it’s fun just to think about.

Smart Homes and Virtual Assistants

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s Alexa was a big hit at CES last year, and this year with Google and Amazon fighting tooth and nail to deliver the bigger, better virtual home assistant we’re expecting both companies to come out swinging with either new and improved models, software, or new adaptations at CES this year to try and steal the consumer’s heart.

A huge part of this will likely follow a trend of device integration across the board, so expect a lot of manufacturers to release new pieces of tech that are built to function with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in mind. LG has already rolled out a Smart Speaker powered by Google Assistant, and this is only the tip of the AI iceberg LG claims to have in store for CES 2018.

Although we’re still likely to see the normal smart home lineup of smart-glass consumer electronics, fridges that you can check your email on, and a whole new lineup of Nest devices, we’re confident that the focus is going to be on creating an easily accessible smart home lineup themed around the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa environments.

Phones and Mobile

Most smart phone manufacturers are likely planning on holding back their huge launch releases until Mobile World Congress later this year, but with all the big hitters like LG, Samsung, Huawei, and now with Google renting out significant space at the convention there’s no doubt we’ll see at least a few interesting new tidbits.

The mobile rumor mill is hopeful that we’ll see sneak peaks of something on the level of the Galaxy S9 or LG G7, but based on all accounts a full reveal is unlikely.

That said, Samsung usually likes to bring at least something unique and interesting to the show, so we doubt they’ll show up empty handed. Odds are we’ll at least see a new iteration of their foldable smartphone, which would be a nice check-up on Samsung's progress towards a consumer model.

Of course, one of the big topics this year will likely be the possibilities surrounding 5G wireless tech, so stay tuned for a huge step up from everyone’s familiar 4G standard.

Televisions

Of course it wouldn’t be CES if there wasn’t a whole fleet of the latest and greatest in television tech on the show floor, and this year we can expect manufacturers across the board to move HDR and OLED, last year’s fancy new color technology, down to their more affordable mid-range line of televisions.

LG has already teased that they’re planning to bring an 88 inch 8K OLED TV to the show, which is a record breaker on a number of fronts, but in general the TV side of the spectrum is falling into a pattern of thinner, prettier, and more pixels rather than pushing any significant innovation.

Gaming Tech

As usual, CES will also feature a ton of gaming tech, peripherals, and likely representatives from all the major hardware manufacturers including AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA. We’re hoping to see some big announcements from all three, but in all likelihood the biggest announcement will likely be an update to NVIDIA’s autonomous vehicle technology, but we would go nuts for a consumer line of Volta GPUs or pretty much anything that gives me an excuse to upgrade from my GTX 970.

Razer is also generally a huge crowd pleaser at CES and we’re expecting some interesting, if not necessarily realistic or commercially available, tech from them again this year. Last year they showed off a triple screen laptop, which was also subsequently stolen, so hopefully we’ll see something just as jaw dropping from them this year without the criminal element to spoil the fun.

Stay tuned to GameCrate throughout CES week as we report from the show.