FOR those who must have the latest gadgets, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has long been the event that reveals the next must-have piece of electronic wizardry.
From smartphones to tablet computers, manufacturers have queued up to showcase the latest technological advances.
But this year’s CES promises to have quite different flavour as the focus shifts from handheld devices to something altogether bigger.
Driverless cars are expected to be the major attraction at the event when the convention kicks off next week.
The technology has long featured in visions of the future and major motor manufacturers are expected to suggest it is close to becoming an everyday reality.
Six manufacturers are already confirmed to be taking part and while their announcements are currently under wraps there is a suggestion Ford could confirm it will work with Google on driverless cars while Kia has confirmed it will set out plans for “fully autonomous vehicles”.
Google’s plans to build and sell autonomous cars has been widely known for some time now, with car-sharing firms including Uber also said to be investigating the technology.
Apple too is rumoured to be working on self-driving car technology, though the iPhone maker famously does not attend CES, preferring to unveil its products and its own events.
Virtual reality also promises to be one of the big talking points among the 170,000 people attending the convention with at least two major versions of the technology set to be launched to the public for the first time.
Most modern versions involve a headset with a 360 degree virtual view, powered by a gaming computer and complete with handheld controllers that enable the wearer to move around and interact with the digital world they see.
HTC, known for its mobile phones, is launching the Vive headset while Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, will showcase its Rift device.
Sony could also launch its virtual reality device which connects to its PlayStation games console at the event.
Sales of drones have rocketed in the UK over the past year and CES will be an opportunity for firms to show off their latest models.
Amid growing concern about their safety, many of the 27 drone makers taking part are expected to highlight features designed to reassure the public.
Manufacturer 3DR is already promoting its Solo drone, which has an autopilot and return home feature designed to minimise potential crashes or near misses.
Better battery life and longer flight times are also expected to be demonstrated.