Thousands of people are gathered in a lofty ballroom in one of the many Las Vegas convention centres, drawn by hundreds of exhibition stands of cutting-edge technologies, ranging from live 3D-printed nails to pet-tracking wearables. Industry experts and journalists gathered as the curtain was raised to the three-day Consumer Electronics Show. Already the world's largest technology show, CES 2016 will be the biggest in the event's 49-year history, with 150,000 people converging from 150 countries.

Smart everything

The theme of CES 2016 seems to be "smart" everything. Side by side you can find smart scales, smart thermometers, smart suit steamers, smart pill packs, smart ski jackets, and the world's first smart shoe, the Digitsole.

British company Smarter, which made the iKettle, is unveiling three new products all under £100 ($220). These include a smart camera for your fridge - so you never again wonder whether you have run out of milk - and smart mats for your groceries that can tell, from the container's weight, how much salt is left in the bottle. Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of organisers the Consumer Technology Association, said: "We expect 20,000 new products to debut at CES this year - and at least 75 per cent, if not all of them will have sensors. Sensors have really exploded in the last two years."

Other examples of internet-connected devices at CES 2016, which opens to the public today, include molecular food scanner SCiO - so you can help you track every calorie and ingredient in your meals - and Whirlpool's smart dishwasher, which can be linked to your Nest thermostat.


"You can set it to run when you are away from home or when energy costs are lowest," said DuBravac.

Other highlights include the PicoBrew, a smart craft-beer brewer for the amateur enthusiast. Founded by ex-Microsoft computer scientist Bill Mitchell, the US$599 ($900) table-top brewer's entire brewing process is controlled by your smartphone.

Technology that turns your heating on from your phone and alerts you to intruders when you are away has been introduced by O2. Some 25 million of the British telecoms group's customers will be offered from the summer a "connected home service" that uses a hub and smartphone app to remotely control smart plugs, intruder alarms, central heating and smoke sensors.

People react as they wear Samsung Gear VR goggles at CES International. Photo / AP
People react as they wear Samsung Gear VR goggles at CES International. Photo / AP


Beyond the smart technology that is behind the "internet of everything", drones have taken centre-stage. They include the winner of the CES 2016 Innovation Award, Lily Robotics which makes a "throw-and-shoot camera". This is a 1.3kg camera drone (US$799, shipping begins in February 2016) that follows the user via a tracking device.

Meanwhile, Chinese drone giant DJI has unveiled its Phantom 3 4K - its first sub-$1000 drone with a 4K camera and Wi-Fi transmission up to 1.2km.

Popular drone-maker Parrot has been showing off its giant Disco Drone - an 80km/h, fixed-wing aircraft with a 1080p camera, weighing 700g.

Motoring miracles

CES 2016 has been dubbed one of the country's biggest car shows, with nine major vehicle makers debuting designs or new partnerships.

GPU chipmaker Nvidia kicked off the week's keynote speeches with the announcement of its "supercomputer" for driverless cars. The system has power equivalent to 150 Macbook Pros squeezed into a lunchbox-sized case and can tell apart cars, humans and street signs. Its supercomputer is already being tested in cars by companies such as Volvo, BMW, Daimler, Ford and Audi.

Virtual reality

Despite speculation that virtual reality would be an overriding theme this year, only a few exhibition stands have been devoted to the area. However, Facebook-owned VR headset Oculus Rift has announced it will open its pre-orders today, and Taiwanese phone-maker HTC is expected to reveal major developments in its Vive headset this week.