Technology for Tomorrow: Reflections from The Consumer Electronics Show
13 February 2013
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is not big; it's massive. As the world's largest technology show, this is the event where everyone from small Korean start-ups to the likes of Sony and Samsung show off their latest gizmos for release this year. I was lucky enough to go there for the week and while I didn't manage to see everything (it really is that huge!), I saw enough to make me realise that gadgets and technology are going to keep changing every aspect of our lives, at an ever-increasing pace.
I'm not going to rant on about the specifications of the latest TV's (although they were amazing!) or the power of the sexiest phone (I want one now!). Instead I thought I'd concentrate on how the latest tech is likely to affect us and our families. Let me take you on a short journey through a typical day in the not so far off future...the technology already exists, the glue that will put it all together is not too far way either.
6am: You wake up. Did you sleep well? Let's find out – after all, you were wearing a small sensor that relays your brainwave patterns to your tablet. Great, a good night's sleep!
7am: Breakfast. Remember not to overdo those fry-ups - your watch is monitoring your activity levels, pulse rate and skin temperature.
7.30am: Time for work – assuming you're not one of the millions working from home. As you leave the house, the lights go off, the heating comes down and the doors and windows will lock. If you've left a back door open, your phone will let you know.
Fast forward to your trip home.
17.30: The system notices that your phone is 20 minutes away and heading in this direction, time to turn up the heating and turn on the outside lights. When you arrive at the front step, an integrated camera sees and recognises your face and automatically unlocks the door. Incidentally, faces of any visitors were sent to your phone during the day. Once inside, the lights come on, the lounge fire starts up and the TV tunes to your favourite channel.
All sound a little luxurious and perhaps unnecessary? Then consider how the same system could be used to help our elderly relatives. Wouldn't it be great to know that your mother has left the house but left the back door ajar? Or her slipper sensors (yes, really!) have noticed that she's dragging her feet? Or that she's out longer than usual and who was that at her door?
That's where these 'luxury gadgets' really become far more valuable. I've worked for a long time selfishly drooling over the number of camera pixels and Wi-Fi speeds available. What really excites me now is how all these different devices can work together to create an integrated, coherent system that can make our family lives that much easier, healthier and safer.
Neil is head of Head of Advanced Technology and Innovation at Virgin Media. He leads a team dedicated to exploring how we can use our products to do good things. We'd love to hear what innovations in digital technology you think would change your life for the better, so why not join the conversation?