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Gaming desktops are usually bulky–exactly the kind of thing you wouldn’t want to park near your HDTV. But the Maingear Spark, designed to run Valve’s gaming-centric SteamOS (it can run Windows, too) weighs under a pound, and is less than five inches square. Yet it still has room for reasonably powerful AMD-based graphics and dual-drive storage. This is the PC proving it can still evolve to keep up with consoles.
Lenovo Horizon 2 Tabletop PC
Lenovo’s Horizon 2 breathes new life into the oft-declared-dying desktop PC. Its 27-inch touchscreen can go fully horizontal, becoming both a gaming and media table that families can interact with together. And a novel pairing technique lets you drop multiple smartphones directly onto the screen, summoning a collection of your recent photos and letting you drag them off for editing or share them through the large touch display.
Intel RealSense 3-D Camera
Intel’s RealSense camera uses infrared and color-mapping tech to plot the scene in front of it, determining where objects and people actually are in relation to other stuff. That opens the door to some amazing uses, like augmented reality gaming, motion-detecting interfaces, and real-time video image manipulation. It’s also small enough to fit in the top of your laptop or tablet, and will be coming to a series of them in 2014.
The most frustrating part of gaming is still, well, getting the games–either purchasing your game and waiting for it to download, or stopping by a brick-and-mortar shop and plugging in a disc (then waiting for any updates the game might need). PlayStation Now, a game streaming service just unveiled by Sony, lets gamers instantly play their games from a PS3, PS4, or PS Vita, without downloading and always in the most updated version. Plus, it gives users the ability to rent titles they’re interested in, rather than buying the full copy.
Iris identification can be too cumbersome of a process for the average consumer. EyeLock created the Myris to remedy that. It’s a simple, beautiful gadget that takes a one-second-ish video of your eyeball, has you log in to your various accounts, and then automatically signs you in, without you ever having to type in your password. At less than $300, it’s an affordable option, too.
LG G Flex
We saw a lot of curved displays on the show floor this year, and they were all completely ridiculous–except for one. The LG G Flex 6-inch smartphone has a curve that makes sense. The subtle bend in the screen allows for less light intrusion from the sides, and it distorts your own reflection just enough to obscure any distracting glare. A 105-inch TV can’t claim that.
The palm-sized MiniDrone does pretty much what its bigger cousin, the AR.Drone, does, but with one notable, amazing addition: It can climb walls! The quad-rotor ‘copter can snap into a pair of six-inch wheels, which affords it the ability to zip across floors and skittle along walls and ceilings.
Celestron Cosmos 90GT WiFi Telescope
Celestron has made it its business to bring astronomy to the masses. And what do the masses have? That’s right, smartphones. The new Cosmos 90GT telescope is the first that’s controllable by an app over WiFi. Once paired, the system guides stargazers through the cosmos as directions flow from the app to the motorized scope base.
There’s a lot in Star Trek that’s still a long way’s off: holodecks, computers that conjure any food we want on command. But there’s one thing that’s already here: the real-life tricorder. The Scanadu Scout can measure a person’s vital signs–heart rate, blood pressure, temperature–without ever touching them. The sensor will begin a pilot program with 10,000 users this spring, the first key step toward FDA approval.
You know we have to include a toy robot on the list. MiP (short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum) is an eight-inch bot that balances itself on dual wheels. It’s like a Segway, but adorable. MiP is controllable by hand gestures, a Bluetooth-connected phone, or can autonomously roll around. Its sensitivity to commands and its ability to balance while zooming across the floor (it can even carry another MiP on a tray!) are super impressive. Plus, it can dance.
Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight
The headlights on the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car are lasers. (Yeah. Lasers.) While your typical high beams reach 820 feet, these can reach double that: 1,640 feet. Audi says they also have three times the luminosity. That translates to higher visibility and, therefore, safer driving.
It may look like a normal golf cart, but the Navia represents a notable step in the driverless future we’re looking forward to. It’s the first completely electric self-driving vehicle available in the U.S., designed for smaller-scale transportation, including airports, theme parks, and universities. You hop on, choose your destination on a touchscreen, and the Navia takes care of the rest. It uses laser mapping and sensors to calculate its position and avoid obstacles at a cool 13 mph. “It’s really f***ing awesome,” according to our editor in chief.