Thumb-sized speakers, five-way image stabilisation and your year’s fitness tracked - consumer technology firsts detailed and dissected.
Sony Project Morpheus
Sony's virtual reality headset looks set to go eyeball-to-eyeball with Facebook's recent acquisition, Occulus Rift. Both are VR headsets you strap to your eyes - it's likely to feature a full-HD display split between the two eyes for stereoscopic 3D vision and a broadly similar field-of-view, as well as sensors including accelerometer and gyroscope to help track where your head is moving in three dimensions. The first difference between Sony's headset and Facebook's offering is that Sony's is tracked by the PS4's PlayStation Camera. It also has a very good controller in the shape of the PS4's gamepad, as well as built-in gaming expertise from Sony.
Olympus Stylus SH-1
The world's "only digital compact to feature five-axis optical stabilisation for both stills and full-HD movies". This means it not only does up/down, left/right and pitch changes, but also yaw and roll. Combined with a 24x zoom, Olympus claim this means crisper shots and videos even when taking close-up macro shots or shooting video from "the back of a moving scooter". On top of that, there's 16MP, a retro-style design and 3in rear LCD to round out the usual spec list, as well as Wi-Fi, high-speed and time-lapse movie shooting.
"The world's first thumb-sized speakers", these X-Mini speakers measure a mere 44x38mm and weigh a tiny 44g. That does mean they can only output 1.5W of sound, but that's still enough to hear far better than the tinny speakers most smartphones come with. The WE comes with wireless Bluetooth connectivity and NFC tap-to-play also, and costs £30. Both run off a rechargeable battery for up to six hours, but the WE, on top of wireless connectivity, also comes with a 3.5mm output jack enabling you to connect up to other speakers or even to double as a Bluetooth puck for your hi-fi.
Mophie Space Pack
The world's first "smartphone case with built-in storage for iPhone 5/5S". In other words, strap this battery case to your phone and you also get 16GB or 32GB extra space to store stuff on the go, plus the 1700mAh battery boost that essentially doubles iPhone life. Mophie's simple app lets you transfer photos, music and other data from the phone's storage to the case's easily (as well as play things off the case's storage). The storage adds on a significant amount to the cost of the pack, so it's only of use if you're already busting the limits of your iPhone's onboard storage.
Google's simple and small device plugs into the HDMI port on your TV, turning your telly "smart". That means streaming content via Wi-Fi, such as Netflix, YouTube and Google Play Movies, as well as access to a Chrome browser - all controlled via app and your smartphone or tablet. As a way to turn your standard TV into a smart TV, it's small, simple and cheap. But given that on the one hand most new TVs are smart anyway, and on the other, more powerful set-top boxes are available that can play games etc, it's likely Chromecast is only the opening salvo in Google's war for your TV.
Wearable and "quantified self" technology is the hot new trend this year. The Vivofit is a fitness activity tracker - think a pedometer that is strapped to your wrist - that beats out its competition in several new ways. It's water resistant to 50m, while its nearest rival is to just 20m and most fitness trackers aren't at all; it is compatible with ANT+ heartrate monitors (the Polar Loop is compatible with Bluetooth monitors, other rivals aren't at all); and it features a replaceable battery that lasts over a year for standard use. Whether Garmin's social tracking matches up to Nike remains to be seen, though.