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Five trends to look forward to at CES 2015

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show will begin next week in Las Vegas. Companies will show off brighter TV sets, self-driving automotive technology, drones, and more at CES 2015.

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    CES 2015 will feature brighter TVs, drones, self-driving cars, wearables, and more. Here, a new TV set from LG is shown.
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The Consumer Electronics Show, that annual spree of new gadgets and tech industry announcements, is just around the corner.

CES 2015 will be held from January 6 to 9 in Las Vegas.

As companies begin setting up their booths in anticipation of the conference’s start (last year, more than 160,000 people attended, an all-time record) here are five trends that we’ll see at the show:

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Brighter, sleeker TV sets

High-definition TV debuted at CES in 1998, and although it wasn’t widely adopted until about a decade later, setmakers have continued to bring ever clearer, sharper images to consumers. Some of the TV innovations that debuted at CES have been major hits (such as 4K resolution, popularized at last year’s show), and some have been roundly ignored (such as 3-D TV, which was all the rage at CES 2012).

This year, Samsung and LG will show off Quantum Dot displays, which use very small crystals (from two- to ten-nanometers wide) in front of an LCD backlight to give a wider color range and a brighter picture overall. We’ll also see more 4K OLED displays, which have four times the resolution of a high-definition 1080p screen; and some setmakers will show off curved displays that can be easily seen no matter what angle you’re looking at them from.

Connected, self-driving cars

Google grabbed headlines when it debuted its own built-from-scratch self-driving car, but lots of automakers are working on similar projects. Audi and Mercedes, among other companies, have been working on adding self-driving features to their luxury vehicles.

BMW’s self-driving technology was a big hit at CES 2013. This time around, we’ll surely see more up-to-date software that allows cars to better navigate obstacles and deal with tricky driving situations. We’ll also see a lot of “connected car” projects, such as Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow a driver’s phone to seamlessly interact with the car he or she is driving. The idea is that you can pop your phone in the dock, and all the features you’ll need – such as navigation and music playback – will appear on the car’s dashboard display.

Wearables

Wearable computers, such as watches and bracelets, were a big part of CES 2014, but a lot of them were poorly executed. This year promises to be different. With the impending release of the Apple Watch, companies such as LG and Motorola have released better, more thoughtfully designed smart watches. It’s not likely that these companies will announce major new improvements at this year’s show, but we might see announcements of other wearables.

Drones

Drones will be everywhere at CES 2015, as the cheaper chips and sensors that have allowed for better smart phones are also allowing drone makers to produce smaller, smarter models. Drones can be flown with a smart phone, and built-in cameras allow them to take interesting aerial pictures or video. 

The Internet of Things

A fridge that notifies you when you’re running low on milk. A thermostat that can give you data about your energy consumption over time. A front door that can be unlocked with a smart phone. These devices make up the “Internet of Things,” the fast-growing web of home appliances (and cars) that can talk to one another and to users’ smart phones, computers, and tablets.

Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel, and other companies will show off connected devices at this year’s CES, and will also explain their own (sometimes conflicting) platforms that tie these devices together. There isn’t a unified Internet of Things standard quite yet, but it’s probably right around the corner as more and more devicemakers add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to their products.

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