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As a first-time attendee of CES I distinctly remember thinking on my flight over to Vegas: "What have I let myself in for?"
It turns out the answer was a week of no sleep, motivational videos designed to make you cry and more gadgets than I could shake a stick at. It doesn't matter what time it is in Vegas, there's always something going on, and with the show spread over three major areas across the city it's almost impossible to take everything in.
But here are the top trends I noticed during my week in Sin City:
People aren't interested in JUST data collection anymore
One of the biggest themes of the week was the concept that devices that collect data are no longer useful unless they are able to interpret it and make changes for the better.
At the show, Shawn G DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association, discussed the need for a "feedback loop" whereby the analog input method for digitisation and curation is then used to influence and change behaviour, feeding back to the original input method.
It was widely agreed across the conference that until this feedback loop occurs, digital and connected technology will not contribute towards a better and more convenient standard of living.
Everyone is focussed on making things "better"
CEA representatives were saying it, Samsung's CEO was saying it, the big boss at Intel was saying it - everyone agreed that the internet of things and other connected technologies could act as a gateway towards a better existence for human beings.
According to Samsung's keynote at the opening of the show, "better" means different things to different people, and the public said the technology of the future should "be faster", "save time" and "track efficiency".
And that's just everyday life - Intel spoke about how its RealSense technology can allow automated drones to more easily navigate on their own, allowing easier drop off of items such as medical supplies.
The firm also shared its plans for a more diverse workforce by launching its own Diversity in Technology initiative, aiming to improve not just technology but the industry itself.
The wearables market is as confused as ever
The last few years at CES has seen wearables move from a possible future concept into a full blown industry segment. The problem is, wearables still don't know what they want to be.
In the CES Marketplaces innovation hall technology booths were split into sections, which included Wearables, Health & Wellness, Fitness & Technology, Smart Watches and Sports Tech, all of which contained, amongst other things, wearables of some kind.
Some of the products could have landed in any of these categories, and the line between several of these segments is very thin.
With fashion designer Lauren Bowker claiming earlier this year that she doesn't like her scientific designs being referred to as wearable tech, it's clearly an industry that, although has many products already embedded into people's lifestyle, doesn't know where it's going.
I think wearables is a technology category becoming a bit too big for its boots, and it needs to decide where its loyalties lie - fitness, wellness or convenience.
3D printing is actually going somewhere
Last year 3D printing seemed like a gimmick that would never take off. Now it's a legitimate industry used for activities such as rapid prototyping, and many products surfaced at CES that could expand the opportunities of the 3D printing market.
Intel's plans to integrate Intel's Core i7 processors within HP's upcoming HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer is a step towards fast printing for functional items such as chainlinks and other working parts for the engineering industry.
A 3D printing pen that allows users to draw a functioning 3D object was also on display in the Marketplaces hall, as well as many smaller 3D printers for home use that could solve expensive outsourcing problems for wannabe engineers.
From a concept people scoffed at to a range of technologies with practical uses, the 3D printing industry has come along in leaps and bounds.
The Chinese market is booming
Once technology was only manufactured in China on behalf of other businesses, but now Chinese companies are huge, and producing products for both domestic and international markets.
From smartphones to smarthomes, China definitely had a huge presence at the show this year, and the trend doesn't look to slow down any time soon.
The internet of things and smarthomes are both the fastest growing and least developed segments
Everyone was talking about the current proliferation and development of the internet of things this year, including the smarthome and how connected devices can help to improve people's lives and save people time.
However much like wearables, some of these technologies still don't quite have the edge that's needed to make them as useful as they could be.
We discussed earlier technology must provide information that allows users to manipulate and improve their environment in order to fully prove its usefulness.
What was also highlighted by Samsung's CEO was the need for greater collaboration between different industry segments and regulators to ensure the internet of things is able to properly move forward and work seamlessly.
Looks like we have a lot to keep an eye on over the next year!
Panasonic has a lot going on this year, with a focus on its "green mobility strategy", fridges and washing machines to enhance the kitchen and let's not forget televisions.
But probably the most noteworthy part of Panasonic's presentation at the International CES in Vegas this year was their new range of fitness products, including the A500, a 4K mountable sports camera, part of the the Panasonic Adventure range for outdoor activities.
Julie Bauer, president of Panasonic's consumer electronics company, described its new wearable camera following up with the statement:
"Watch out GoPro."
Although that was the only bold move Panasonic made, they still showcased a number of interesting products and ideas, some already achieved and some they want to release into the wild.
During the show, the wearable was on display, modelled by 'Spartan' athletes who were hell-bent on proving its durability by emerging from a pool of water and climbing a frame whilst wearing the camera mounted on their heads.
On the subject of cameras the firm also announced a set of home security cameras designed to be put around the home and controlled remotely by tablet anywhere around the house.
Those weren't the only cool thing they were exhibiting either; Panasonic demoed the concept of a virtual reality mirror able to project makeup onto to see what works well on your face. I envisage this sort of technology being used in the future to show plastic surgery patients what they might look like after a procedure, or in retail to virtually try on outfits.
Panasonic's CEO and chairman Joe Taylor also announced a partnership with Ford in order to "transform" vehicle communications and in-car entertainment using its Sync 3 technology.
But a big concern for Panasonic, as mentioned earlier, is the environment, and Panasonic has put a lot of time and effort into solutions to power vehicles and cities in more energy efficient ways.
The company spoke of its production of Lithium Ion batteries, a power source for electric Prius vehicles and other automotives, which is the number one use for these batteries globally.
It also spoke of producing scooters, called Gogoro, powered by smart swapping batteries that can be docked in power stations and swapped for a fully charged unit on the spot.
Finally the firm announced its Gigafactory which is currently under construction, designed to produce electric vehicle battery products. Panasonic predicts an annual production for 500,000 tesla cars by 2020 to be powered by renewable energy. The factory will employ 6500 workers and aim to establish more green mobility manufacturers.
The Raspberry Pi is small - 'a credit-card sized computer' says its blurb - and flexible, good for both general desktop use and electronics projects. And there's a new version out.
If the Raspberry Pi were a car, what would it be? Not a Bugatti, appealing as it does to the Heath Robinson end of IT society. It's cheap, so Bristols and Rollers are out too. It isn't as ubiquitous as Ford nor as staid as a Volvo. And you wont see it on Top Gear.
Computer Weekly has therefore rolled up its sleeves and taken the new Model B+ for a test drive.
With literally no expenses spared, the squad was recruited from top experts. Running the CW driver's team was a senior enterprise architect who works for a global financial services firm. For the sake of professional anonymity, we shall call him 'Jim'.
Our three teenage drivers - 'James', 'Edward' and 'Nicholas' - were picked for speed and resilience. And also because they happen to live in a house where there is always at least one computer nearer than the nearest London rat, ie within twelve feet (3.66 m).
So, what's under the bonnet? The new Pi is really an upgrade, rather than a new model, improving the B type's performance and layout.
The B+ has the same processor, the same RAM and can run the same software. Although it is the same size, however, the B+ won't fit into the case designed for a B-type, due to the rearrangement of the board.
All the ports are now neatly arranged on two sides, rather than distributed around the board, and there are now four USB ports compared to the model B's two. A four-pole composite and audio interface - a jack of all trades, one might say - has replaced the video and audio sockets.
Pi aficionados are excited by the replacement of the old plastic SD slot - which could also handle micro SD - with a metal micro SD-only slot. This reviewer was not so pleased, as it meant finding a new micro card.
And while the new slot is undeniably sturdier, compared to other computers the rest of the Pi is physically as delicate as a Meissen teapot.
The Pi's fragility belies the robust new power circuitry, which has been rearranged and made more efficient with a switching regulator. If you use batteries, they should last longer, and the Pi should be better equipped to tolerate irregular or low voltages .
Despite its exposed components, encasing the Pi in Perspex makes less sense for the B+, than its predecessor. The back of the board is almost as interesting to the adventurous as the front, with lots of test points included. And for those looking to hook their machine up with real world objects, there are an extra 14 General Purpose Input Output pins, making a grand total of 40.
Checking the undercarriage
A Pi shares some of the characteristics of the human baby. Cute to behold and costing next to nothing itself, the bill for accessories can stack up.
Made by CynTech and designed especially for your favourite cheapo computer, the HDMIPi monitor comes in various packages, from the no-power-cord-included version (£75) to full bells and whistles (£160), with assorted cables and wireless inputting devices.
For this enterprise, however, we fitted our fitted B+ into a more traditional rig of monitors and mice. Wired up into a networked testbed, it faced a punishing schedule, designed to answer three key research questions.
(1) Does the Pi meet its PR claims? (2) More importantly, can you run a high graphics game on it? (3) Is it useful for odd standalone projects?
Other than the features that can be checked off visually (yes, all pins present), the testable upgraded features are the improved power circuitry and audio. With no particular desire to hit the Pi with transformers, testing was restricted to seeing which Pi, the B type or the B+, played a certain Rodrigo y Gabriela flamenco number more impressively.
It's an audio jack, Jim, but not as you know it ...
The Results were inconclusive due to a dead heat. Neither would play anything. This may have been down to tester error or, more likely, according to our technical specialist, "something up with the speakers".
For those with more time, or less need to move on to more pressing tasks such as playing Minecraft, audio configuration instructions are available online.
Cue the teenage driving team. There were two options for Minecraft, the open world game of building and territorial exploration.
The game can be run with the RAM and processor-challenged Pi acting as server or as client, but not both.
For the first pass, we decided to set it up in server mode. Nicholas slid behind the controls with what can only be described as practised ease. The Pi was less responsive, striving gamely to deliver but running with a 9 second lag and stalling at critical moments.
"Oh look, I'm playing Minecraft on a bad server"
The Pi was much happier serving as client, although its tester clearly was not. The game was at its most basic with, critically, no pigs, an essential ingredient in the modern version of the game. Nearly as bad, the TNT barrels did not explode in this rudimentary version. Check out Minecraft.
All three testers piled in joyfully to play a variety of early computer games, all written in Python, including Snake, Tetris - "Ha! It's just one block at a time!" - and the messy favourite, Ink Spill.
Scoring not very highly for graphics use, the B+ was then dedicated to a nobler cause.
Our testing team finished late in the evening, after testing the Rasperry Pi's capability with encryption. More on that later.
Our conclusion: the Pi is not an all-terrain vehicle. Something of a rugged but not so speedy army Land Rover on the encryption front, it is, quaintly, the Robin Reliant of gaming.
In terms of neoclassical looks and general desirability, it seems more Mini Cooper than Lamborghini. And with the exchange rate set at over five hundred Raspberry Pis to the modern Mini Cooper, we're not complaining. Perhaps a trip to the Arduino trailer-park is in order...
Quite clearly very passionate about the technology, chief Huawei device designer Joonsuh Kim told me that the main aim for him was to make people fall in love with Huawei devices. Kim hopes to provide consumers with something other than just technology.
He said: "Literally we are touching the consumer's heart. That means you can feel that you are emotionally engaged with a Huawei device."
To Kim, the device is all about user preference, and he believes that once consumers start adapting to their devices, they will want to use them for everything.
He states that even though the Huawei brand may not be big yet, it's starting to get through to consumers. Its aim it to deliver users with a "pleasant surprise" through usability, comfort, and a perfect combination of hardware and software.
When building the concept for a phone, Kim considers several user scenarios to make sure there is always a device that caters to what consumers want - including the ability to have multiple SIMs, a more professional device which is lighter for increased portability, low-cost devices, or a personal-only device.
The design team make sure that the hardware appeals to the user they are targeting, providing particular features to appeal to different types of audience such as business professionals, young users and entry-level users.
Kim also believes that using Huawei's knowledge and connectivity in networking, it can be a leader in 5G when the time comes.
During a presentation on device innovation, Kim used Angelina Jolie as an example of a perfect human being (following up by commenting that although she might have been considered the most attractive woman in the world, that was several years ago... ouch) and that aesthetics are very important when targeting the appropriate market.
It just goes to show that even the smallest tweaks in design can make the biggest difference to consumer behaviour.
Now, Huddle has announced that it is integrating with Microsoft Office to allow employees to collaborate on documents in the Huddle secure cloud via Microsoft Office applications.
Users will be able to save their work directly into their Huddle accounts through Microsoft Office, and Office documents such as Powerpoints, Word documents and Excel files will have the Huddle comments stream alongside it to allow users to interact and collaborate on work.
Huddle believes the next step for business is to move into the cloud, and provides content collaboration platforms for enterprises and governments. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240212784/Barnardos-uses-Huddle-Note-for-collaboration-and-communication
Huddle for Office integration will allow users to save documents directly to the Huddle cloud, comment on files directly from Office applications, view recent files instantly and track changes, comments and updates via Huddle's full audit trail.
Alastair Mitchell, Huddle CEO, said: "Skipping between the applications on your desktop and cloud service to share information and discuss files with people is time-consuming and disrupts your workflow. With Huddle for Office, you can continue working in the desktop tools you're used to, but all of your feedback, files and updates are stored and shared in Huddle's secure cloud.
Huddle's Office integration is available now.