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CES 2014: 5 Innovations to Watch

The annual gadget fest known as the International Consumer Electronics Show is just around the corner. Here's a look at what to expect.
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In case you have not marked your calendar yet, the annual gadget bonanza known as the Consumer Electronics Show is just around the corner (it opens on Jan. 7). Held each year in Las Vegas, the massive convention is where I'll be for seven days after recovering from the holidays.

So what can you expect from the show? Plenty. I'm meeting with dozens of company reps to find out about new tech, but I'm mostly looking forward to these innovations.

1. 5G Wireless

I'm excited to see what Broadcom comes up with for 5G technology, the next evolution beyond the 4G mobile Internet service we have now. In theory, 5G would run at over 1Gbps which is fast enough to change how we do business--it means cloud back-ups would take seconds, sending a video presentation to a colleague overseas could be almost instantaneous, and HD video collaboration would become commonplace between businesses.

2. Firefox OS

I remember seeing a Firefox OS phone at CES last January made by a company called ZTE, and I'm hoping more companies pick up the charge. The Firefox OS uses HTML applets and could offer some flexibility and speed benefits, although it is too early to know for sure. Mainly, it would be good for another competitor to take on Android and iOS because it doesn't seem like Microsoft (with the Windows phone) or BlackBerry will win that fight.

3. Gesture Interfaces

I named the Leap Motion controller as one of my top gear-of-the-year picks for 2013, so gesture interfaces are already available on the market. You can use your hands to page through a sales demo or even design a part for a new product and visualize the results. I'm expecting more companies like Thalmic Labs to offer improved gesture interfaces for business purposes.

4. 4K Projectors for the Office

This past year, Seiki and TCL released 4K televisions and several companies, like Dell and Samsung, offered 4K monitors for your computer. But I have yet to see a reasonably priced 4K projector for an office setting. 4K runs at an incredibly high resolution so slides, video demos, and photos would look much better in presentations.

5. Connected Cars

Audi will be showing off a new A3 sedan that offers a built-in 4G connection for the passengers (and the driver if the car is stopped). That's a first for any automaker, and it means faster access to email, Web apps, and collaboration. I'm hoping someone finally figures out how to do a 4G video chat service from within the car.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jan 3, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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