Computex 2016 recently wrapped up and once again, it gave us a glimpse of what the future of computing will look like. From next generation graphic cards to 10-core CPUs for the mega multi-taskers, this year’s show was nothing short of spectacular. To no one’s surprise, the theme this year was built around virtual and augmented reality. Here’s a recap of some of the latest and greatest toys that will no doubt be at the top of many children’s—and adults—wish lists this winter.
The Top 5 Gadgets from Computex 2016
The ASUS Zenbo Robot
This little robot does what robots are supposed to do: make your life a whole lot easier. The Zenbo is a smart home manager and links smart devices in a home so that they can be accessed from one central point. Need a recipe recommendation? Check. Someone to take your family photo? Check. A personal assistant to log into your online accounts to do your shopping for you? Check. And if you’re feeling lonely on a Saturday evening, the Zenbo will mic-up and drop the latest radio hits with you so you can dance your sorrows away. You can get your very own version of BB-8 for $599 when it rolls into homes across the globe (no word yet on release date).
MSI Backpack PC
If you’ve tried the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, one of the drawbacks is that it has to be tethered to a PC, so not only are you maneuvering through tricky in-game terrain, you have to make sure you aren’t tripping over cords and wires in the real world. The Backpack PC from MSI is a Windows 10-based machine that runs Intel’s Core i7 processors and Nvidia GeForce GTX980 graphics and weighs in at a hefty 12 pounds. The PC will give you 90 minutes of gameplay before requiring a charge and is capable of having its parts swapped out for others in the event you want to power your device with an SSD or other components. MSI hasn’t provided any pricing, only saying it will be available later on this year.
Intel 10-core processor
Performance is all the rage when companies introduce new products at Computex, and Intel’s launch was no exception. The chipmaker introduced its new range of Extreme Edition processors, topping the line off with a 10-core CPU for consumers, the Core i7-6950X. At $1,723, the company touts 35-percent faster performance in 3D image rendering, 25-percent faster video editing in Adobe Premier Pro, and 20-percent faster video transcoding in Handbrake relative to the Core i7-5960X.
Asus Zenbook 3
The thin-n-light notebook market continues to heat up as Asus looks to go head-to-head against the Macbook by launching the 2-pound, 0.47 inch thick Zenbook 3. This powerful and snazzy device sports a super fast i7 CPU and has a terabyte of storage. The best part about that? It’s an SSD! Asus also claims the laptop is made from “aerospace-grade aluminum alloy,” which it claims is 50-percent stronger than standard aluminum alloy. No word yet on when this will be available in the US, but ASUS will have three configurations available, with the base model starting at $999.
If you’ve never had a chance to experience VR, then the HTC Vive headset should be at the top of your list of things to try. The device only started shipping earlier this year and Computex was the ideal place to showcase the latest in innovation for the premier headset.
One of the challenges when it comes to showcasing the VR experience to onlookers is that they won’t get the same sense of immersion as the person wearing the headset. HTC’s practical solution to this was to build a green screen that produced movie-like results by placing the players in their VR environments. This syncs up the Vive headset to overlay in-game objects over the player’s body.
Virtual Reality Breaks Big at Computex
SanDisk is also leading the charge here in virtual gaming. At our private exhibit room, we showcased Tilt Brush by Google, which allows users to paint in 3D space. Truth be told, visitors were reluctant to try it at first (after all, how exciting can painting be?), but once they put the headset on, we had a difficult time getting them to take it off!
We also gave visitors a chance to sit in a chair to experience what it was like to be on the Apollo 11 space mission through the Vive. The documentary-style VR experience gives the viewer the opportunity to relive the events of 1969 where they were also able to take control and fly the command module, leaving a lasting impression and giving a greater appreciation and respect for the men and woman who worked on the NASA Apollo program.
As virtual and augmented reality gain steam and adoption over the next couple of years and we see advances in software development, the growth in hardware power and performance will undoubtedly play a critical role. Chipmakers, graphic cards, and storage manufacturers will need to keep pace in order to give users the full immersive VR experience. There are certain parallels to be drawn between VR and where the PC market was 20 years ago when machines were bulky, expensive, and inefficient. But technology catches up fast in today’s day and age, and it is my belief that 20 years from now we will live in a world where it will be difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fantasy.