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Neuro-hacking, Netflix and VR: 8 takeaways from the Consumer Electronics Show 2016

The CES 2016 shows tech integrating more seamlessly with users' everyday experience.
Updated 10 Jan, 2016 02:03pm

LAS VEGAS: Here are some key highlights from the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Saturday.


1. Netflix guns for world domination

Netflix expanded to 130 countries, including Pakistan, where the app for smartphones is now available on the Google Play store. ─ Photo: Hufsa Chaudhry
Netflix expanded to 130 countries, including Pakistan, where the app for smartphones is now available on the Google Play store. ─ Photo: Hufsa Chaudhry

Netflix stunned the show with the announcement that it added 130 new countries for its streaming TV service to bring its total to 190, calling it "the birth of a new global Internet TV network."

Pakistan is one of the new markets for Netflix, which is still studying ways to get into China.


2. Google and Lenovo: Two to Tango (3D)

The Project Tango game, AR Capture, shows an interactive dog playing on a piece of furniture where no real dog exists at a off-site event. — AFP
The Project Tango game, AR Capture, shows an interactive dog playing on a piece of furniture where no real dog exists at a off-site event. — AFP

Google and Lenovo announced plans to produce the first consumer handset using the US computing giant's Project Tango 3D technology.

The device set to launch worldwide later this year aims for a new generation of smart devices that can be used for indoor mapping, augmented reality and more.


3. 4K definition to become a benchmark

People look at the Letv 120-inch UHD 4K panel at the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. — AFP
People look at the Letv 120-inch UHD 4K panel at the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. — AFP

The 4K high-definition television format became the standard base for manufacturers, which showcased thinner and more spectacular displays for those willing to pay the price.

The Consumer Technology Association, the trade group behind CES, said one in every five televisions sold this year is expected to be 50 inches or more, measured diagonally, and feature ultra high-definition 4K resolution.


4. IoT goes big this year

The IoT market showed spectacular growth this year. ─ Photo: Experience LG YouTube
The IoT market showed spectacular growth this year. ─ Photo: Experience LG YouTube

The Internet of Things showed spectacular growth from products like a smart mirror from Haier that delivers news and weather and connects to other appliances, and connected spoons and diet scales.

Samsung unveiled a smart refrigerator that lets its owner use a smartphone to virtually peer inside and see what should be on a shopping list.


5. Wearable tech probes users' health

Alex Chang of Looxid Labs demonstrates a brainwave headset at the Consumer Electronics Show. A new breed of neuro-hackers is finding new ways to capture and manipulate brainwaves for improved health, with potential to help the severely handicapped. ─ AFP
Alex Chang of Looxid Labs demonstrates a brainwave headset at the Consumer Electronics Show. A new breed of neuro-hackers is finding new ways to capture and manipulate brainwaves for improved health, with potential to help the severely handicapped. ─ AFP

Wearable technology probed deeper to get more data about health, while making inroads into the medical field: diagnosing conditions and even offering treatment for pain and other ailments.

Shoes measured steps and shirts kept tabs on heart rates.

French-based health group VisioMed introduced its Bewell Connect "virtual checkup though a smartphone app that communicates with its connected blood pressure and glucose monitor, thermometer and blood oxygen sensor".


6. Cars link up to smartphones and smart homes

A BMW i3 electric car drives autonomously from a simulated garage where it had been automatically charged by an inductive charging station after an exhibitor simply picks up the keys from below the BMW Connected Mirror. — AFP
A BMW i3 electric car drives autonomously from a simulated garage where it had been automatically charged by an inductive charging station after an exhibitor simply picks up the keys from below the BMW Connected Mirror. — AFP

Automakers moved to connect not only to the smartphone, but to the smart home and other parts of the digital life.

Ford teamed with Amazon to link up the carmaker's Sync vehicle hub with the online giant's smart home hub called Echo.


7. VR goes beyond just video games

A man tries out virtual reality goggles with an EHang Ghost Drone 2.0, which has 4K video, Avatar tilt control and VR goggles at the CES 2016. — AFP
A man tries out virtual reality goggles with an EHang Ghost Drone 2.0, which has 4K video, Avatar tilt control and VR goggles at the CES 2016. — AFP

Virtual reality spread beyond video games to touch sex, sports, sales and space exploration.

Facebook-owned Oculus began taking pre-orders for its eagerly-anticipated Rift VR headsets at a price of $599, and CES was rife with companies scrambling to field competing devices or content that could draw people into faux worlds.


8. Startups try their hand at 'neuro-hacking'

BrainCo CEO Bicheng Han wears the BrainCo Focus 1 to use bio feedback to try concentrate on manipulate a mechanical hand using his brain  during a press conference at the CES 2016. — AFP
BrainCo CEO Bicheng Han wears the BrainCo Focus 1 to use bio feedback to try concentrate on manipulate a mechanical hand using his brain during a press conference at the CES 2016. — AFP

Startups turned attention to ways to tap into the brain.

A "mind control" headband unveiled by startup BrainCo effectively hacks into brain signals with a range of possible applications ─ from helping to improve attention spans, to detecting disease, controlling smart home appliances or even a prosthetic device.