For most tech companies, CES is the Super Bowl. Each year, tens of thousands descend on Las Vegas to see the leaders in tech debut their new wares and discuss the future of the industry, while millions more look on from around the world. This week established many of the trends that will shape the next years of consumer technology. From TVs to stereos, from headphones to desktop computers, this is an important week for technology. Except for gaming.
CES has never really been considered a gaming event, even though gaming and technology are forever intertwined. That isn’t to say that there is no gaming presence here, nor does it mean that there has never been anything major to debut here, but most manufacturers hold off for gaming-specific events like GDC, E3, Gamescom, and the Tokyo Game Show. This year, however, is something of an exception.
While there wasn’t much news coming from PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox group, or Nintendo, several others were there to pick up the slack and unveil devices and technology that will shape the gaming industry for years to come. Here’s our favorites of the bunch.
Check out more top picks in our best of CES 2013 rundown.
The Shield, Nvidia’s handheld gaming device, has a huge amount of potential. When it was announced on Monday, it was instantly one of the most intriguing devices to grace CES, as it garnered plenty of oohs and ahhs. On its own, it’s an Android gaming system with its own screen and controller. That’s nice, but not really that impressive when you consider that most new Android devices like smartphones and tablets, already offer that and more. What really sets the Shield apart is the ability to stream PC games from a home system directly to it. You need to be within the range of your network signal, but Nintendo built its new console around that idea, so there is a huge market for that. The details are still forthcoming, but the potential is impressive.
For more check out Nvidia’s Project Shield handheld takes PC games on the go.
There are several products out, or coming out, that take advantage of the growing Android library, but few do so as easily as the Moga Pro – an upsized version of the standard Moga we reviewed in October. The Pro is a standard controller in the mold of an Xbox 360 controller that pairs with any smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, turning the device you already have into a portable gaming system. Plug that tablet or phone into a TV, and you have a new home system. The big drawback is that the games need to be specifically adapted for Moga by the developer, but as devices become more powerful and streaming games from a service like Steam becomes a reality, this relatively inexpensive device could blow away the much pricier – and more technologically sophisticated – Android-gaming competition.
For more check out Power A’s Moga levels up and goes pro.
ViviTouch is a name most probably don’t know, but the technology is finding uses all over the world. For gamers, the immediate impact of ViviTouch will be seen in a series of gaming headsets made in conjunction with Able Planet due out later this year. The technology is based on haptic feedback, which means the bass you hear is more than bass, it is a physical pulse. More immediately though, the technology is being used in Able Planet’s Linx Audio hearing aids, which use vibration in the ear canal to help channel sound. It’s a brilliant design, and one that is going to expand beyond hearing aids to communication devices. Imagine emergency responders with tiny ear pieces able to hear their comrades regardless of how loud a situation is. Compare that to the tiny speaker most wear on their shoulders, and you start to see how this technology could honestly save lives. The possibilities are vast, and gaming peripherals are just a small portion of what could come.
Although the working name for this device is the Piston (and it may keep that name even after it clears the development stage), it is already more popularly known as the Steam Box, a piece of hardware that has been rumored for a long, long time now. Valve made no secret of its intention to introduce a device designed to access the full Steam library on a TV, the only question was who would make it. Enter Xi3. The Utah-based company is a perfect fit for Valve, and the prototype follows the mold of its other computers. It’s small and lightweight, runs Linux, and (most importantly) is modular to allow for easy upgrading in the future. If the two companies can keep the price low, the big three console makers might have a new challenger.
For more check out Hands-on with the Xi3 Piston and 7-Series – meet Valve’s console.
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