For a glimpse into the future, look no further than the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Self-driving shuttles and solar cars are on display this year. And while 3D printers are a relatively well-known new technology, this year’s show offers a fresh spin - 3D-printed food.
You can find just about anything at CES.
Automobile enthusiasts are in luck this year. Renault revealed an electric race car.
Audi unveiled a self-driving A7 - the cars park themselves. Last year, the technology needed for their driver-less sedan took up the entire rear end of the car. This year, the computer fits on a card about the size of an iPad.
Induct showed off its self-piloted shuttle, called the Navia. The company's Max LeFevre says it's also 100 percent electric.
"It's a shuttle, so it's for public transport for eight to 10 passengers. It works with lasers which work kind of like a bat," he said. "It sends out beams that bounce off the walls and other things in the environment. That way the vehicle can create the map of the environment."
Ford made headlines with its solar car - the C-MAX Solar Energi. Solar cells are mounted on the car’s roof, but the trick, says Ford Motor Company’s Dave McCreadie, is the solar canopy.
"It boosts the power of the solar panels by essentially magnifying the sun. So it takes a larger square footprint area of the sun and concentrates down onto the solar panels," he said. "The purpose of this is to enable the customer to recharge their vehicle off the grid."
The Ford C-MAX Solar Energi is still just a concept. If you’re looking for something more tangible, 3D printers are capable of producing more complex, high-quality designs, and the cost of a 3D printer is falling. Some cost less than $500.
But 3D Systems has created something new: 3D-printed food.
“Today we're debuting two food-safe 3D printers and they're the first food-safe 3D printers," said Liz Von Hasseln of 3D Systems.
Von Hasseln says the ChefJet and ChefJetPro use melted sugar to create sweet creations like candy and cake decorations.
“So you might say, 'I want to work on a cake topper or I want to work on a drink sweetener' and the software will start you out with an object that's kind of the appropriate size and shape, and you can add complexity from there," she said.
The sugary 3D printers are expected to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 when they go on sale.