At Thalmic Labs we’re always looking forward to new and emerging technologies which are defining the future. The start of a new year, especially post-CES, is one of the most exciting time periods for technology enthusiasts as we receive a barrage of announcements, details, and leaks. My name is Idris and as one of the engineers in the Machine Learning department at Thalmic Labs, I love researching and discovering new devices – some of which the Myo™ armband can interface with – when I’m not busy designing and implementing gesture recognition algorithms (we’ll save those details for a future blog post!). Here are some of the coolest gadgets I’m looking forward to this year:
Science fiction movies are often a fairly accurate peek at the potential technologies of the future. The displays in such movies are stunning and attractive – ultra-thin, partially transparent (without distracting from the screen’s visuals), seemingly impossible viewing angles, and of course, flexible or entirely foldable screens. Samsung and LG are at the forefront of display innovation, demonstrating extremely high definition flexible TVs at CES which can adjust their curve via remote control. Both companies are also set to release mobile phones with curved displays – the LG G Flex and the Samsung Galaxy Round. At this point it’s not clear whether flexible screens on TVs or mobile devices have any practical benefits (some claim improved image quality and a more immersive experience), but this is just another step towards making those sci-fi screens a reality.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
For the past two years, mobile phones have been continuously growing in size. For me, the sweet spot for display size is between 4.3 and 4.5 inches. Although a larger screen has many practical benefits for browsing or watching videos, it’s rare to find a phone which has decent specs and fits comfortably in one hand. In my personal opinion, the Moto X from 2013 was a big step in the right direction, but it still shipped with 2012 specs. One of my all-time favorites in terms of phone hardware was 2011’s Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, and so I was extremely excited when Sony announced the Xperia Z1 Compact, a phone with a 4.3” screen which packs almost all of the same specs as today’s flagship devices. To top it all off, it comes with a 20.7 MP camera, and it’s water-proof. Underwater photos anyone?
Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove”
We’ve had the original Oculus Rift developer kit in the Thalmic Labs office for quite some time, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing its incredibly immersive virtual reality. The newest “Crystal Cove” prototype is able to add an entire new perspective by tracking the user’s head movements. If only we could track the user’s arms…
Pebble Steel Smartwatch
Smartwatches made a big splash in 2013 with several companies coming out with what they felt was most worthy for our wrists. The smartwatch that most people remember as being the pioneer of this device category is the Pebble Smartwatch. But the original Pebble seemed geared towards early adopters and technology enthusiasts with regards to its design and style. Pebble recently announced the Pebble Steel, a smartwatch which takes on a more serious and premium stainless steel appearance. The new look may not appeal to everyone, but it will definitely capture the attention of those that appreciate a more subtle smartwatch.
MakerBot’s new 3-D printers
Many hardware companies start testing new prototypes with a 3-D printer. Thalmic Labs has several 3-D printers, including a MakerBot. However, 3-D printers are quickly becoming less expensive and more consumer-friendly. MakerBot seems to be leading 3-D printer technologies, rolling out three new models this year. The MakerBot Mini is designed for the average consumer who is a beginner to 3-D printing, and the other two printers are geared towards the professionals – the MakerBot Replicator (generation 5) and the MakerBot Replicator Z18 (for printing larger models).
One of the most attractive devices at CES was ClearView’s Clio – a Bluetooth speaker which is nearly invisible. The Clio comes with a beautifully furnished base (in three different finishes) which add to the aesthetic of the room without compromising sound quality. And the best part about it – because it is Bluetooth-enabled, you could stream music to it directly from your phone or tablet’s music player, which you could control from anywhere in your house with a Myo armband.
These are just a selection of the most recent technologies which I’m looking forward to. There were many other exciting and innovative devices announced for this year (including the Myo armband!), ensuring that 2014 will be an important year for both Thalmic Labs and the tech community as a whole.