The biggest gadget trade show in the Americas wrapped up on Friday in Las Vegas after swamping the city with 150,000 attendees. This year, "wearable" computing was big, along with various 3-D technologies, especially 3-D printing.
Wearable devices in the shape of smartwatches and head-mounted displays have been a staple of the show for a long time, but manufacturers were excited this year because the field is finally gaining traction with consumers. Fitness bands were a breakout hit last year. The 3-D printing section bustled with activity, and it was clear that even though most people won't be buying a printer any time soon, they may be enjoying 3-D printed products, such as jewelry, wedding cakes and dental braces, in the near future. Meanwhile, TV makers were heartened by the support they received for their new ultra-high-definition TV sets.
Here are some of the most notable products and services revealed at the show:
DRIVERLESS CARS - The state of the art in car electronics is in systems that eliminate or ease the task of driving. French company Induct demonstrated its Navia driverless shuttle, which putts along at 12.5 miles per hour on a pre-programmed route. It's intended for university campuses, airports and other locales with enclosed roads.
What about road safety? When a staffer walked slowly in front of the Navia, the vehicle slowed down, rather than coming to a full stop, because it recognized that the pedestrian ahead was moving, too.
Then there was Audi's automated parking demonstration. With a press of a button on a smartphone app, the German automaker's computer-equipped car squeezed into a tight space between two other cars, a situation that would give many drivers pause. The car has multiple cameras and ultrasonic sensors, giving it a 360-degree view. It puts rubber-necking and looking through the side-view mirror to shame. The car executed a three-point turn flawlessly -and the driver didn't have to worry about dinging other cars' doors, because he had already exited the car.
UV-SENSING WRISTBAND - The wearable computing trend has unleashed a lot of creativity. One example is a wristband with a "gemstone" that measures exposure to ultraviolet light, the kind that causes tanning and skin cancers. Using Bluetooth wireless technology, the Netatmo June sends readings to the owners' smartphones, warning, for instance, when they're approaching their daily limit of UV exposure. The battery lasts for six weeks. Netatmo, a French company, hopes to sell the device