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Five hi-tech trends to keep an eye out for this year

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A man wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted display. Photo: Getty Images

A man wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted display. Photo: Getty Images

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Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest with Jim Dollard, Executive Director of Electric Ireland

Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest with Jim Dollard, Executive Director of Electric Ireland

The Grush

The Grush

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A man wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted display. Photo: Getty Images

What kind of gadgets and tech devices will enter our lives in the coming months? The world's biggest technology trade event - the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - is one of the best indicators of the kind of tech trends that will hit our shops and homes over the next year. Here are five things we can expect to see from CES, which opens in Las Vegas this week.

1) Wearables and the internet of things

Because Apple is launching a smartwatch in the spring and because the price of tiny chips is coming down, 'wearables' (including smartwatches) and the 'internet of things' (putting a tracker into your hairbrush) are going to be the two biggest themes of CES this year. Already, we've seen Grush launch a web-connected toothbrush that encourages kids to brush better. And there is a long list of auto manufacturers that will show off new online features for cars in 2015.

2) Smart clothes

Last year, the array of Bluetooth and web-connected clothing - mainly from start-ups - was greeted with mockery. This year, serious clothing firms are set to announce a lot more mainstream garments with connected qualities. That means sportswear from the likes of Adidas and Asics and fashion apparel from marques such as Ralph Lauren. The hi-tech clothing will tell us whether we're exercising correctly and keep an eye on things like heart rates and perspiration levels.

3) Connected homes

Another perennial tech holy grail - the 'home of the future' - looks likely to get a significant boost with some of the things up for display at this year's CES. Much of it will build on breakthrough products such as Nest, which introduced thousands of Irish people to the idea of wifi-connected, phone-controlled central heating systems last year. Big home appliance and utility firms are likely to unveil more wifi control for lighting systems, electricity metering and kitchen devices. Audio speaker and television companies will also show off much more wireless control.

4) Virtual reality

It may have taken 15 years to make it from concept to real life, but 'virtual reality' looks set to finally make a breakthrough this year. Samsung will show off its new €100 headset that makes online action seem real. Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Oculus will reveal how it intends to make its Oculus Rift headset the hottest thing in gaming. One drawback to the technology is nausea: the experience is so realistic that a significant number of people using it actually experience motion sickness and dizziness .

5) Thinnest-ever laptops

Some of the laptops being promised for CES launches weigh no more than an iPad mini. This is mainly down to new Intel chips that will give laptops more power at a fraction of the size requirements. The trend could be another nail in the coffin for tablet use outside the home.

Irish Independent