You’d be surprised how long something can be around before it catches on with the masses. Most of the time the technology is simply too young, and needs investment, competition, and of course, age, to become ready for primetime.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to see many of those kinds of devices up close and personal at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The following is what I’ve learned about recent innovations, and a glimpse at a few new types of gadgets that haven’t quite caught on yet, but are poised to take the world by storm.

oculus rift

Smartwatches

samsung galaxy gear

Images: John BiehlerMax BraunSergey GalyonkinGadgetMac

Movies and TV shows made it clear years ago: Watches need to become more than just timepieces. Now, in 2014, your watch really can do more than just tell time. And some of the biggest names in tech are betting that you want just that. Samsung, Sony, and Qualcomm already have devices available, but were narrowly beaten to market by newcomer Pebble.

At CES 2014, Intel unveiled its own prototype smartwatch, while rumors about Apple and Google‘s own devices continued with no official word.

At this time, device functionality is limited; however, there’s no doubt that smartwatches will be just another oart of the giant gadget industry. The adoption may not happen as fast as that of smartphones in most markets, but wearable tech is red hot right now. As the technology gets better and more companies enter the space, we’ll be doing more on our wrists than ever before.

Smart Glasses

google glass

While Google is the only smart glasses manufacturer fully targeting the average consumer (with its Google Glass project), there are quite a few others out there. Epson, a company known for making printers and projectors, announced its second generation smart glasses, the Moverio BT-200, at CES 2014. Mainly targeting enterprise with business and instructional applications, the BT-200 runs on Android, using an attached remote to interact with the projected interface.

Other smart glasses include Vumix’s Glass-like M100 and GlassUp eyeglasses, which seem to act more as a smartphone notification device than a standalone product.

2-in-1 Laptop/Tablets

sony vaio tap 11

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that tablet sales continue to rise, while traditional laptop sales remain stagnant. In fact, owning a tablet is now commonplace — right up there with the laptop. But as the technology matures, manufacturers can now fit the power of a laptop into the body of a reasonably lightweight tablet and combine the two devices by including a touchscreen.

With the introduction of Windows 8, this was clearly the future Microsoft saw for the PC.

Intel has been taking charge of this future, promoting a variety of 2-in-1 devices that transform from laptop to tablet. Last year, we gave one away — the Dell XPS 12 — which featured a rotating screen for both functions. Newer 2-in-1 devices, such as the Sony Vaio Tap 11 (pictured), feature a kickstand and detachable keyboard, which makes the device lighter and more pleasant to use as a tablet.

With Apple’s own 2-in-1 iPad Pro supposedly in the works, it’s only a matter of time before 2-in-1 devices overtake traditional laptop and high-end tablets.

Virtual Reality Gaming

oculus rift

If you’re a gamer, there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of the Oculus Rift. The virtual reality headset takes gaming to a whole new level of immersion by not only completely blocking out any external visuals with the display, but by tracking  head movements and syncing them with the game character.

With over $90 million in investments to back it up, the Oculus will spearhead its way into the consumer market in the near future. In fact, the company has recently acquired the support of Valve, developer of the popular game distribution platform, Steam.

For now, only a developer version of the Oculus is available to the public.

Wearable Health/Fitness Devices

fitness devices

When working out, tracking and seeing results are two of the biggest motivators. After breaking your own record for longest run, you can feel satisfied and confident in your abilities. To aid fitness efforts, wearable trackers, such as Fitbit and Jawbone, have made it easy to analyze how effective our workouts are, and how active we are throughout the day.

At CES 2014, the amount of wearable trackers were simply overwhelming. Most came in the form of a semi-fashionable wristband that syncs with your smartphone each day. Others, such as Intel’s Smart Earbuds and Lumo’s Lift, a sensor that can be clipped to your shirt, show the variety of ways companies are attempting to break into this growing market.

 

Full Disclosure: HackCollege is partnered with both Intel and Microsoft for separate blogger programs. As a part of these programs, I received devices to better report on Windows software and become acquainted with the latest and greatest PC hardware.