Geek heaven as CES kicks off

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Self-driving cars, submersible smartphones, 4K televisions and hordes of salivating tech journalists marked the opening night of the annual geek fest, the Consumer Electronic Shows (CES).

Every year, hundreds of journos and geeks descend on Las Vegas for what is the biggest tech conference in the world, albeit one that has seen better days. If 2012 was the year Microsoft signed off its decade-long keynotes and the world shuddered through the Great Recession, 2013 is pegged at providing more hope (and more gadgets) for a world always seeking a thrill in sparkling new gadgetry.

The pre-opening preview night of stand-out products revealed some of the key themes for the event – which generally sets the tone for the consumer technology industry for the year.

Stuff’s writers will bring you news of the best new tech, but for now, these are the highlights of the CES Unveiled preview.

LG was the only major TV manufacturer at the event, with its impressive 84-inch 4K television – capable of displaying four times the image resolution of HDTV. It has a built-in upscaler to boost existing footage. Sony last year showed off the same-sized set, while market leader Samsung has a press conference later on Monday to announce its new TVs and audiovisual innovations (Stuff has seen some of these, which are impressive, but the embargo only expires later tonight.)

Nvidia, known for its graphics cards, has taken the bold step of producing its own gaming devices, powered by one of its Tegra 4 processors. (see our related story shortly.)

Later on Monday Toyota is due to unveil a driverless car, much like Google’s – the latter has been licenced to drive in several US states.

If anyone had New Years Resolutions to get fit, this is the year to do it with some technology assistance. The cavernous room in the Mandelay Bay hotel was sprinkled with fitness-enhancing gadgets and apps.

The most impressive is Hapilab’s Haptic fork and spoon, which aim to make you more conscious of your eating patterns and therefore lose weight. The devices have built in sensors which measure the time in between mouthfuls and aims to slow down your eating speed. Fast eaters tend to eat more and therefore put on weight, whereas those who eat more slowly tend not to. The difference is 67 calories, said one of the French co-founders of the $99 device that will go on sale in April.

Other fitness additives and apps include Fitbug, which has a deal with Discovery Vitality, and Withings, which makes a Bluetooth activity monitor and a scale which measures your weight and, bizarrely, the indoor air quality of your house.

There will be more announcements this week, so stay tuned.

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