January was the time when the technology industry went bonkers for new gadgets, gizmos and product announcements. That’s because it’s when the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place. Held amidst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, it’s the world’s biggest technology show.
And don’t let the ‘consumer’ bit of the name put you off: CES is just as much about highlighting emerging business tech as it is about the latest, greatest gadgets for the home. As it happens so close to the start of the year, I’ve taken inspiration from CES to round up five bits of technology I think you’ll be lusting after for your business in 2012. Some of them were featured at CES. Others, you’ll have to wait longer for.
1. iPad 3, with an incredibly crisp display
Apple doesn’t usually give much warning when it’s about to announce a new product. But the smart money is on the tech giant releasing the third version of its iPad in 2012. If the rumours are right, iPad 3’s show stopping feature will be an incredibly crisp screen. Will it be enough to keep Apple’s sleek slate at the top of the tablet computing charts?
2. Laptop with Kinect built in
Kinect is the clever controller you can get for your Xbox – it follows your body’s movements so you can control games just by moving around. We mentioned it last year when we were wondering what might one day replace your keyboard. Well, according to reports, PC maker Asus has created a prototype laptop with Kinect built in. Just think: no more using your fiddly trackpad in Starbucks. You’ll be able to wave your arms instead. And attract a few odd looks at the same time, no doubt.
3. Your very own 3D printer
Actually, give it a little longer and this one really could revolutionise the way businesses produce prototypes, models and mockups. One day garages could be printing out spare parts for cars instead of having to order them in. And maybe that day is closer than you think. Check out the latest in 3D printing technology: the MakerBot Replicator, which can create 3D models while you wait. Incredibly, it’s available from just $1,800 – cheap for such an impressive bit of kit.
4. Super-thin, super-light ultrabook
You’ll probably have seen Apple’s MacBook Air, the incredibly thin laptop computer that’s credited with kick-starting the trend towards ultrabooks. These are – quite simply – very thin, very light laptops, with enough power to be your main computer. Pundits reckon 2012 will be the ultrabook’s year. HP’s Envy, Samsung’s Series 9 and the Dell XPS 13 are all aimed squarely at this end of the market. Sure, they’re more expensive than a standard workhorse laptop. But once you see one, you’ll want one.
5. 4G mobile phone
You’ll be lucky to get your hands on one of these this year. When it finally arrives properly in the UK, 4G will give us very fast internet access from our mobiles. Forget patchy 3G: 4G will be super fast and – so they promise – super reliable. But for now, only a lucky few are getting to try the service. Some in central London and some in Cornwall. If you’re not signed up already, you’ll probably have to wait till next year to get connected – at the very earliest.
What tech are you looking forward to this year?