Merchandise Monday: 2014 Trends in Technology

The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place from January 7-10 in Las Vegas, and Hinda’s merchandising team hit the show floor to seek out the latest and greatest from the world of consumer electronics. This year, it seems innovations are cropping up in every area of tech, from digital cameras and smart TVs to mobile and sports and fitness. While it’s a little too soon for us to tell which of the newest items we’ll be adding to our ever-growing assortment, we’re excited to share what we learned about what you can look forward to in 2014 and moving forward!

A shift is taking place in the world of digital cameras and camcorders. The rise of smart phones and their superior camera quality have decreased the need for separate digital cameras. Leave it to tech manufacturers like Canon® and Samsung® to offer the features you love about your smart phone, like Internet connectivity, social media sharing capability and rear-facing cameras, right on their latest models. Along these lines, companies like GoPro®, Garmin®, Sony® and Polaroid have all developed a line of action cams – a rapidly growing camera category all its own.

Recent advances in TV technology have turned passively watching into a full-blown lifestyle. In 2014, streaming technology is offered as an embedded feature on TVs. For example, Roku has partnered with select brands to offer Roku TV, which is built-in, eliminating the need for a separate streaming device. And what better way to enjoy all your favorite TV than on the latest 4K television? Companies like Sony and Samsung are now offering the ultra-crisp, life-like picture, which is becoming more mainstream and affordable. Look for massive displays and curved or bendable screens!

We’ve all been there - you’re out with friends or on a trip and forgot your charger. Now your phone’s dead and you can’t snap great pics or check-in via social media. What to do? Never fear, mobile charging is emerging as a category all its own, with companies like Mophie and Intel® offering devices strictly for keeping your favorite gadgets fully operational, making the concept of a dead battery obsolete. In fact, CES predicts that by 2017, the market will reach $7.16 billion, making wireless charging one of the most important categories in consumer electronics. 

Have you seen the new movie “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson? Did you think it was a little futuristic and far-fetched? Well, we may not be too far away from our homes talking to us. The “Internet of Things” category is starting to catch on, with companies like Nest®, Belkin, LG and Samsung jumping on the connected-home bandwagon. This year, stand-out items included a smart toothbrush and sleep monitor that can be controlled via apps, cloud-connected smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and plans for 4G-connected car models from Audi, BMW and Chevrolet.

One of the newest technologies on display this year was 3D printing. While it’s still a little too pricey for personal use, it’s becoming a bit more mainstream as businesses are finding various uses for the technology. For example, 3D printing is great for creating physical samples of products and 3D scale models of buildings and designs. Another example of using 3D printing for business? Food! CES exhibitor ChefJet showcased its ability to print using sugar and chocolate to create 3D-printed cake toppers and pastry decorations. What will they think of next?

Another up-and-coming category is wearable technology. By now everyone has seen Google Glass, the wearable computer concept worn on the face like a pair of glasses. It seems the wearable tech trend is only getting stronger with the idea that anything we can put on our bodies can have a wired version. From smart watches and contact lenses to smart onesies for babies, IMS Research expects the wearables market to ship out 171 million units by 2016, up from just 14 million in 2011, according to CES.


Last but not least, sports and fitness are two categories where technology is really starting to make waves. Devices like swing monitors for golf, tennis and baseball and GPS systems for cyclist are being manufactured by Sony, Reebok, Schwinn and other companies to help improve performance and maintain safety. In the fitness realm, heart rate and activity tracker wrist bands from companies like Garmin, Fitbit® and Polar® and sweat-friendly earbuds from Sol Republic and other brands are just two of the recent developments in fitness that are making it easier and more fun to be fit!

There’s nothing like fresh, new technology to kick off the New Year! Of course, this is just a sample of the many brands and exhibitors present at this year’s CES. And as we mentioned, we’re not sure yet which of these new gadgets we’ll add to our assortment in the coming months. However, we can say with confidence that we’re just as excited as you to see what new technology 2014 brings. So be sure to stay tuned to Hinda Blog for all the latest updates and merchandise news!


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Consumers are Refusing 3D Technology

Back in August, we speculated that the future of TV looked bleak for 3D technology, as manufacturers seemed to favor Internet-ready TV over 3D. Recent survey results* have shown that more than half of American HDTV buyers refuse to shift to 3D technology.

More than likely, this is not welcome news to the manufacturers who have poured money, faith and resources into 3D technology, with hopes that it would soar in popularity with consumers. Panasonic® recently announced annual net losses of $5.5 billion, while Sony® is considering restructuring in order to revive its flagging television sector.

So, what exactly is veering consumers away from 3D? Price, availability of 3D programming and 3D glasses are all posing as barriers. Like any new technology, the price has decreased since it was first released a few years ago. Still, of those planning to buy a new HDTV set in the coming year, 40% will not buy a 3D TV due to a lack of available 3D programming and 30% believe the glasses are still a problem.

What do you think? Are you planning on buying a new HDTV in the coming year? If so, are you planning on buying a 3D TV? Why or why not? Do you think 3D TVs have a future? Sound off in the comments section.


*The online survey was conducted by shopping and review website

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3D Takes A Turn at CES 2011

We've talked about TVs and tablet PCs at CES 2011. A common bond (internet aside) that they shared at CES was a revived push for 3D. More particularly, glasses-free 3D technology.

One of the barriers to entry for 3D technology to begin with were the glasses. A compnent to most any 3D device on the market now, glasses are bulky, awkward and fairly expensive. In order for 3D to really see a significant increase in the rate of adoption, a glasses-free approach needed to be taken. The market has spoken and manufacturers are definitely heeding the call.

How does glasses-free 3D actually work though?

The key to creating a 3D image is to show a slightly different perspective to each eye so that the brain processes those images as having depth (hence why those 3D glasses in your comic books had different colored lenses). Active shutter glasses, what's found with most devices now, blocks out one side then the other at a remarkably rapid rate as to achieve the same effect.

With glasses-free, your television actually displays multiple images at the same time except in alternating bands. Using a convex lens is placed over the screen so that the image will appear differently at different angles. It's similar technology as what is used for holographic images. Pretty cool stuff.

As of right now, the technology is in what we would call beta. According to this article, if one was to get out of a viewing "sweet spot," the image only appears blurry with no 3D effect at all. On the larger screens, the imagery was reported to not be near as rich as the technology that used glasses.Toshiba's 3D Laptop

What's this mean for 2011?

Most likely, 3D will be found on devices with smaller screens. Nintendo DS made the announcement of utilizing this technology eons ago, while Sony's 3D cameras will have this capability too. Smaller screens are easier to format for glasses-free and make it harder to detect the imperfections that are easily noticeable for a larger area like a TV. One device of note included Toshiba's 3D laptop, which (according to many sources) was one of the stand out products in the glasses-free category.

What do you think? Will see more 3D products as 2011 progresses?

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