The annual Consumer Electronics Show has now ended in Las Vegas. From SmartBras to electric cars, it is a glimpse into the near future. Will technology control our lives? Or free them?

In the early days of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), companies revealed the most exciting television technology: DVD players, surround sound, ever thinner screens — sometimes they even had HD. But now that smartphones have put those TVs in our pockets, the gadgets launched at CES have become weirder and more wonderful.faraday-future

The biggest buzz this year surrounds Faraday Future’s electronic car design, already nicknamed the ‘batmobile’, which projects information into the driver’s vision and includes space for a smartphone in the steering wheel.

Other products seem to be inspired by cinema: journalists were delighted — and soon frustrated — by a wristband which allows you to control a miniature BB-8, the beloved new droid from Star Wars, by waving your hand like a Jedi master. Elsewhere, a system called ‘She’ allows you to monitor your home’s WiFi connection, temperature, and ‘air purity’ from wherever you are. Its name is reminiscent of the movie Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his flat’s intelligent operating system.

There are many more gadgets to help you run your home efficiently, including a fridge with a screen that shows what is inside — avoiding the tiresome business of opening the doors yourself — and a ‘SmartBowl’ which monitors pet food portions to keep your cat at its ideal weight.

Meanwhile, the success of the FitBit has inspired more exercise technology from rival companies, including an iFit treadmill with a screen 1.5m high which shows exotic locations while you run.

Stay tuned to TechFly for our 3-way fitness tech comparison coming this January!

If you decide to exercise outdoors, however, a pair of ‘smartshoes’ can light up the ground, keep your toes warm, and count your steps. Women can even monitor their heartrate and breathing using a ‘SmartBra’. Many predict that as this ‘wearable tech’ improves, it will become ever more crucial to how we live our lives.

Crossed wires

Although some of these gadgets appear useless or bizarre, there is no denying their incredible technology. Could they lead to a nightmare in which our homes and bodies are constantly monitored by machines so that we cannot go for a run without our wrist telling us to slow down or turn left? We may end up fitter and avoid getting lost — but we could lose something more important in the process.

Nonsense, say others. People have not lost touch with simple, practical pleasures. Look at the boom in knitting, baking, andcolouring books. By allowing technology to do chores for us, we will find ourselves freer to focus on simpler, deeper pleasures such as learning new skills or playing with our children. As long as technology remains a tool, rather than a prison, we should celebrate its advances.

Some of the products launched at CES are available to purchase straight away, while others are only prototypes. Of course, you don’t have to buy them; but the technology is here to stay. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has even made it his new year’s resolution to build a robot butler by the end of 2016 — one that will recognise guests, watch his children, and play his favourite band, Green Day.

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