Technology news, issues, gadgets and apps. Click reports from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and brings you the latest trends in technology for the year ahead.
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Yeah! Huh! Yeah!
Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.
And welcome to 2014.
OK, I'm a little bit late but, for us geeks,
the new year only really starts when the doors are thrown open
on the world's most famous consumer electronics show.
It's a big, brash, colourful, noisy affair.
Guess that's why they hold it here. Welcome to Las Vegas.
Coming up, we'll bring you the biggest,
best and brightest from CES 2014,
where the tech has been bent, worn and even swallowed.
We'll sweat over fitness gadgets
and chill with the very best of the web in Webscape.
So this is where CES takes place,
at the massive Las Vegas Convention Centre.
More than 3,000 exhibitors cram into the three enormous halls
and the surrounding hotels,
hoping to shout to 150,000 visitors
about their brand-new TVs, tablets, gadgets and gizmos.
Personally, this is how I like to get around the show.
The One Wheel is a skateboard come unicycle, come segway,
which self-balances once you've got the knack
and is steered by leaning in the direction you want to go.
Eventually, I'll be able to run for about six miles at 12mph,
although for now, I'm keeping the tricks simple.
There's a tonne of innovation here,
and who's to say what will take off?
Could it be the digital accordion
or the TREWGrip, a rear-facing keyboard for your tablet
which makes data entry oh, so backward?
Maybe the Opticwash will change things for specs wearers worldwide.
Yes, it's a carwash for your glasses.
Everyone here wants to make their mark.
And while I leave mine, here's another Marc, Cieslak,
who's discovered that the writing is on the wall for old-style security.
When it comes to financial transactions,
signatures can, of course, be forged.
And PIN codes and passwords can be cracked.
But I'm about to authorise a credit card payment
using one of the most secure methods around.
It's a system called PulseWallet.
It has an infrared camera in there
which scans the vein pattern in my hand.
That pattern is as unique as a fingerprint
and far more difficult to copy.
The technology, developed by Fujitsu,
is already in use in cash machines in Japan and Brazil
and it could soon find its way into shops
in the not-too-distant future.
And Marc will be back later.
Yep, CES is an overwhelming assault on the senses.
Featuring every type of tech under the sun.
Although one in particular always seems to take a starring role.
Some of the most impressive stands at CES
have always been from the TV manufacturers, for obvious reasons.
They're always showing off something bigger,
thinner and flatter than ever before.
That said, this year, flat isn't all that.
In amongst those ultra-high def screens
and living rooms made of pure light,
something a bit more curvy is wending its way into view.
And it certainly caught the eye of Dan Simmons.
It may be slow, but this screen
is actually bending at the touch of a button.
The Korean outfit, LG, decided that because OLED screens can be made
so thin they're flexible, why not?
This is a prototype.
But what you will be able to buy is this 105-inch monster.
Also curved, its wider 21x9 HK screen
has just over four times the resolution
of our now commonplace high-def tellies.
These super-tellies look absolutely amazing
and the ultra-high definition content being played on them
is needed to maintain resolution, especially for the larger screens.
The curvature, I'm not so sure about, really.
On the 65 inch, it doesn't make that much of a difference.
It does, though, on the larger screen.
The 105 inch does look different from a flat-screen telly.
But why do we need curved television sets anyway?
I'm not so sure they need a curved television set.
I think they will want a curved television set though.
It's like being in a movie theatre.
You go into a movie theatre,
some of the very large ones,
whether it's 3D or 2D,
you're sitting in the middle,
the screen just kind of envelops you.
Although they perhaps generated the most hype this week,
there is a school of thought which wonders
how well curved screens will sell
while we continue to have non-curved houses.
Igloo owners, take note. Thanks, Dan.
Something else that's really caught the imagination here
is the promise of tech so small it can fit into anything.
That's why we are seeing things like pills
that report back your temperature as they pass through your body.
Smart socks with built-in sensors that monitor running technique.
Activity tracker for your dog. What's not to like?
Farfetched as they may sound, small is the future.
And chip-maker Intel is very keen
on taking the idea to the next level,
with tech you can wear and which is self-contained.
Free from the shackles of the current generation.
Namely, a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone
which does most of the thinking for us.
Intel famously missed the boat with smartphones and tablets.
Its chips featuring hardly any modern, portable devices.
And perhaps quite sensibly, it's looking to a future
where your wearable device won't need a companion smartphone.
It is a self-contained, fully-operational computer.
And so it's introducing a processor called Edison,
something that is so small
that it can be fitted into anything, even a baby's onesie.
Edison is an entire processor the size of an SD card.
And when it's released this summer,
it may lead to a whole host of truly portable thinking devices.
Health monitors, like the one in the baby's clothing,
will assess its vital signs on its own
and then communicate directly with other smart devices,
like your coffee mug, which will tell you if the little one's asleep
and this bottle warmer, which will learn its feeding habits
and switch on automatically.
OK. Next up, a round-up of some of the other big things
that have caught our eye at CES. Here's LJ Rich.
Sony announced PlayStation Now,
a service allowing gamers to play classic games from the PS3
through the internet, without needing to own a console.
The Japanese giant says it will launch
a restricted test in the US first,
before for a wider launch later this year.
There's an increasing number of Chinese companies showing at CES.
Electronics giant Huawei introduced its take on biometrics
with the remote control that allows users to log into their smart TVs
using their fingerprint.
That could be us useful when paying for shopping online
or placing parental locks on certain channels.
Or having the TV switch itself to the settings each member of the family
might like the best when they sit down.
And there have been plenty of smartphone add-ons at the show.
We've seen lots of cases which add extra battery life to your phone,
but this also turns your iPhone 5 into a 650,000-volt Taser.
Illegal in many countries but not in most parts of the US,
this crowd-funded device has two safety catches
to stop an accidental discharge in your pocket. Hopefully.
But for those who prefer a warmer view of the world,
this tiny camera might just help.
When connected to a smartphone, it detects infrared energy,
converts it to an electronic signal
and then produces a thermal image on your phone screen.
Handy if you want to see like the Predator.
And, let's face it, who doesn't?
You can see anything and everything here at CES.
Over there, there's a live concert going on.
Over here, a spot of tennis.
Helps a chap unwind after a hard day trawling the halls.
This, of course, is a smart tennis racket.
It's got a sensor built into the handle
which is analysing the impact on the strings
and then talking wirelessly to an app
which is analysing my speed, my spin and my swing
and helping me to become a better tennis player,
which, quite frankly, isn't difficult.
Anyway, that's enough exercise, time for a spot of food.
Vegas is a place of extremes.
So it's no surprise that eating out here can be just that.
The Heart Attack Grill
prides itself on its unhealthy menu,
which includes monstrosities that just go on and on...and on.
And on. Oh, my good grief!
The whole place looks like the most frightening hospital in the world.
The waitresses dress as nurses.
The customers are made to wear hospital gowns,
the wine comes in IV bags
and the whole thing is run by a guy called Dr John
who will let you eat here for nothing, if you're heavy enough.
Looks like I'm paying, then.
I'm actually quite glad about that.
What better place to test out some tech that helps you to stay healthy?
The Spree is a headband containing a sensor
that measures your vitals through the skin on your forehead.
While you work out, it keeps track of your pulse,
temperature and movement,
sending the data to your smartphone through Bluetooth.
Apparently, a head-mounted sensor has certain advantages
over the more familiar wrist-worn ones.
For a start, it can monitor movement while you're cycling,
even when your hands aren't moving.
And if you don't have much time or space to do those reps,
the WellShell is a device to help you squeeze in exercise anywhere.
And I mean squeeze because that is what you do.
The accompanying app encourages you
to hold the thing in different positions
and then apply different pressures for different lengths of time.
I know it doesn't look impressive sitting here squeezing a black plastic box,
but it is really difficult to squeeze it hard enough
for some parts of this test.
It's also difficult to maintain whatever pressure it's asking for
for the appropriate time. So it is doing something.
That said, this isn't designed to burn lots of calories,
but more to tone your muscles, rather like yoga or Pilates.
And bear in mind that calories in
are just as important as calories out.
If you want to know what your food is really made of,
well, you need a portable laser spectrometer.
The TellSpec is a crowd-funded project
that's raised three times its target.
And the rather rough-looking prototype I'm holding
will, I'm told, eventually look a lot more like this.
So shine the laser onto your food
and the spectrometer measures the wavelength
of the light that's reflected back.
This data is sent via Bluetooth to your phone
and then on into the Cloud,
where it's crunched and used to tell with atomic precision
which ingredients are actually in your meal.
The app will also give you more information
about any related health concerns
and the number of calories per hundred grams.
More than handy for diabetics
or, since everything you scan is logged,
anyone who wants to keep a track of their intake.
I've always found the list of ingredients on the side of a packet pretty uninformative.
It's difficult to know what those things are and what they might do to you.
I guess this is especially useful for anyone who's watching what they eat while they eat out,
when there is no list of ingredients.
So just one more thing left to do,
and that's to scan the Octuple Bypass Burger.
20,000 calories of... Well, let's find out.
Now, back to CES and, as I said earlier,
you can't avoid the TV screens here.
Ultra-high def 4K is the order of the day.
And there's finally hope for anyone who might actually want to watch something on them.
Netflix has announced it will offer a 4K movie-streaming service soon.
And if you have a 4K projector,
Dan has managed to jump the queue on another way to put it to use.
Welcome to Sony's Life Space UX,
their living room of the future.
Basically, it looks pretty normal with the lights on.
Blank wall behind me, mirror on the wall.
Over here, their kitchen area,
where you might enjoy breakfast at the start of the day.
But this whole area is about to change.
They want to show you what they think the future will look like.
Turn the lights out and the room comes alive.
That wall mirror is a touch-screen panel.
It can also be synced with the wall
because the wall becomes a giant screen,
thanks to the world's first ultra-high definition laser
home cinema projector.
The overhead lights project the overhead part of the film, obviously.
And suddenly, wherever you look,
it feels like you're on the streets of Paris.
In the kitchen, the hanging light projects your diary for the day,
all controlled with a swipe or tap.
But apart from the 4K projector, which hits UK stores this summer,
it's all conceptual, meaning for now, Sony's vision is still just that.
While TV makers go crazy about 4K,
it's worth remembering that higher resolution
isn't the only way to get better pictures.
Richard Taylor has spotted something that certainly brightened his day.
Dolby is a name you'd normally associate with sound
but now it's moving into enhancing the visuals too.
It's developed Dolby Vision,
a new technology which, if it takes off,
will dramatically enhance the pictures on our TV sets.
Dolby says the problem is that content we watch through TVs now
loses a lot of picture information.
It's only a tiny fraction as bright or colourful
as our eyes or even video cameras can capture.
That's something it wants to change.
Seeing, as they say, is believing.
And you can't fully appreciate what I'm seeing here
because you're looking at this through today's TV standards.
But this monitor, which is also using the standard,
looks dull and lifeless compared to the new system here on the right.
The whites are 40 times brighter than they are on this.
It's a lot more detailed, rich, vivid and colourful an image.
The only caveat being
that on pictures which move very quickly, there is a bit more judder.
To make it work, you'd need a compatible TV
with a specially-configured array of LEDs powering the backlit display.
Major broadcasters like the BBC have shown interest in the technology
and Dolby has announced partnerships with big TV makers
like Sharp and Chinese giant TCL,
who are showing off prototypes at CES.
Content providers like Netflix are also on board
but significant challenges remain to get it adopted more widely.
The first one is to get creatives interested in this kind of content.
It provides them with a much bigger colour palette,
so they're already pretty much convinced.
The second thing is getting the TV manufacturers wanting to produce that
and provide that information and that quality to consumers.
Again, we have a lot of uptake on that.
The third one is the transmission system.
That's an area that depends in the broadcast world on standards
but is much easier for things like internet video,
where fewer standards exist.
Thanks, Rich. But it's not all about movies and TV programmes.
As well as Sony's announcement of PlayStation Now,
there's been another big video games launch at CES
and Marc got his hands on it.
Valve is an outfit famous for producing blockbuster video games
and for launching the wildly-successful Steam digital store.
It's now making its first foray into producing hardware,
with the Steambox.
The Steambox is basically a PC designed for the living room,
living beneath the television set.
Valve have made use of an operating system which is limit based,
which they've dubbed SteamOS.
They also seem to have taken a leaf out of the Google Android playbook.
They'll be producing a version of this machine themselves
but have signed up 13 third-party manufacturers
to create these computing crates.
Confusingly, some of these machines
will have different specifications and different prices.
The Steambox will make use of a new and different kind of controller.
Analogue control sticks are replaced with touchpads
that provide haptic, or forced feedback to the user.
The one I'm playing on is a prototype.
The finished controller will also have a touch-screen display
in the space currently occupied by those four square buttons.
If you're used to analogue sticks,
the touch controller takes a little bit of getting used to.
And seems to be really, very, very responsive indeed.
So here they are, the very first batch of third-party Steamboxes.
Some of which look quite sleek,
like they could slip seamlessly beneath your existing kit.
And some, which, to my eyes,
look a little bit like a minibar fridge crossed with an existing PC.
This first batch of machines are priced between 500 and 6,000.
Prototype test units are already in the wild being put through their paces,
with finished boxes likely to be released later this year.
As with many tech expos, sometimes the most interesting stuff
doesn't turn up in glamorous halls
but, instead, in the seedy back alleys,
where the little innovators set out their stalls.
This is university research, which detects neural impulses,
in this case, the ones controlling my eyebrow muscles,
and then turns them into a pink monkey arm-wrestling game.
Where, at the moment, I am being outwaggled by Nema here.
OK. Back to London now. It's time for Webscape.
And here is Kate Russell.
There are plenty of websites online
where you can browse through thousands of recipes
but sometimes the real gems are easier to find
in a specialised collection, like at greatbritishchefs.com.
Having stuffed yourself silly
with cold turkey throughout the festive season,
surely it's time for a change of menu.
These pages ooze delicious recipes, tips
and how-to-videos from distinctive British chefs
who all cook in their own restaurants.
Recipes are all clearly identified by skill level and prep time
so you can plan the perfect feast for any occasion
using fresh, seasonal vegetables and ingredients.
There are lots of free apps
for Apple devices and Windows 8 desktop.
And if you're following a recipe on your laptop in the kitchen,
you can launch the screen into cooking mode
for full-screen steps that are easy to navigate with floury fingers.
"Turn the pastry around on the work surface
"so that you roll it altogether."
# Come on, skinny love what happened here? #
If all that's a bit rich for you,
here's another specialist recipe site
that should appeal to healthy eaters.
Skinnytaste is all about maximum flavour, minimum naughtiness.
With Weight Watchers-friendly recipes
that should make it a pleasure to eat a healthy diet.
Who's watching you online?
It's a question we've all been pondering a little more seriously
since Edward Snowden blew the lid
on various government activities recently.
And now, thanks to a plug-in for Firefox,
you can see a little more clearly
what's going on under your browser's hood with Lightbeam.
Once installed, the app will track
which websites are talking to your browser.
Even the third-party sites serving up things like ad banners
and tracking cookies to follow you around the web.
This is the part of the internet you can't usually see
and it makes for enlightening observation.
You can explore the information
using one of three data-visualisation tools.
Data is collected continuously as you surf around the web,
building up a picture of how your activity
is being tracked and traced.
# I always feel like somebody's watching me
# Tell me, is it just a dream? #
If you played a lot of board games over the holidays,
you'll probably recognise this bad boy, Connect Four.
Our video of the week this week comes from Numberphile
and reveals how you can guarantee a win.
So simple, it feels almost like cheating.
And it is a mathematical certainty that you will win
if you play perfectly by dropping your opening disc,
or stone, as these are sometimes called,
into the middle column, like so.
Thank you, Kate. Kate Russell's Webscape.
And that rounds off Click in Las Vegas Part One.
After all, there's far too much at CES to cover in just one programme,
so we have been forced to stick around
to bring you more from the show next week. What's a geek to do?
Feel free to get in touch about anything you've seen.
We're on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook
and on the e-mail, of course.
And you can check out the latest technology news at our website,
Thanks for watching and we'll see you back in Vegas next week.
Click reports from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and brings you the latest trends in technology for the year ahead.