2014 CES in Las Vegas history: Here’s the wrap

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2014 CES in Las Vegas history: Here’s the wrap

LAS VEGAS - The biggest gadget trade show in the America ended Friday in Las Vegas after swamping the city with 150,000 attendees.

This year, “wearable’’ computing was big, along with various 3-D technologies, especially 3-D printing.

Wearable devices in the shape of smartwatches and head-mounted displays have been a staple of the show for a long time, but manufacturers were excited this year because the field is finally gaining traction with consumers.

Fitness bands were a breakout hit last year. The 3-D printing section bustled with activity. Meanwhile, TV makers were heartened by the support they received for their new ultra-high-definition sets.

Here are some of the most notable products and services this year,

DRIVERLESS CARS - The state of the art in car electronics is in systems that eliminate or ease the task of driving. French company Induct demonstrated its Navia driverless shuttle, which putts along at 12.5 miles per hour on a programmed route. It’s intended for university campuses, airports and other locales with enclosed roads.

Then there was Audi’s automated parking demonstration. With a press of a button on a smartphone app, the German automaker’s computer-equipped car squeezed into a tight space. The car has multiple cameras and ultrasonic sensors, giving it a 360-degree view. The car executed a three-point turn flawlessly - the driver didn’t have to worry about dinging other cars’ doors, because he had already exited the car.

UV-SENSING WRISTBAND - The wearable computing trend has unleashed a lot of creativity. One example is a wristband with a “gemstone’’ that measures exposure to ultraviolet light, the kind that causes tanning and skin cancers. Using Bluetooth wireless technology, the Netatmo June sends readings to the owners’ smartphones, warning, for instance, when they’re approaching their daily limit of UV exposure. Netatmo, a French company, hopes to sell the device in the U.S. for $99, starting in the second quarter of this year.

UHD NETFLIX - Netflix demonstrated ultra-high-definition, or 4K, video streaming. The company will offer relatively easy access to shows that take full advantage of the 4K TVs set to go on sale later this year. Netflix’s 4K content will stream at 15.6 megabits per second, so viewers will need a relatively fast Internet connection.

ENVELOPING PHOTO BOOTH - At the Nikon exhibit, Los Angeles-based photographer Alexx Henry set up a small tent with 68 inward-facing, off-the-shelf Nikon cameras. When a subject steps inside the xxArray photo booth, an operator triggers the cameras simultaneously, yielding an image of the subject from all angles. Computers then process the images and create a 3-D rendition of the subject, which can then be posed in the computer as if it were an action figure.

SUGAR PRINTER - A company called 3D Systems showed off the ChefJet, the first restaurant-approved food printer. The device uses water to melt sugar into shapes as complicated as the mind can imagine. The company’s booth featured a wedding cake held up by an edible lattice-work tower that would have been nearly impossible to create by other means. The ChefJet can print complex works in chocolate, too. Unfortunately, the samples the company handed out didn’t taste very good, but party planners and restaurateurs will likely be excited about the possibilities culinary 3-D printing opens up. AP

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