The crowds were big, the lines were long, and the hype was over the top. Yet, the annual CES (consumer electronics) show in Las Vegas still manages to set the tone for much of the coming year in technology. After two days of press conferences and four more days of exhibits, panel discussions, and keynote presentations, all that’s left now is to see which companies deliver on their promises and how new gadgets and services might reshape our daily lives.

A clothes folding robot attracts attention

There were robots galore, but one of the more unusual concepts involved a machine that will fold your clothes. FoldiMate CEO Gal Rozov was all over CES touting a robot that takes 15-20 items from a hanging rack and spits them out neatly pressed and folded. The Kickstarter-funded company could only show a conceptual video and mock-up of the machine, so this is not an item that will be available for purchase soon.

“We will save marriages all over the world,” said Rozov.

Closer to reality is the smart highway. Panasonic, in collaboration with the state of Colorado, is turning a treacherous stretch of Interstate 70 into a highway that will allow cars to communicate with each other as well as with the road itself. The road is popular with skiers heading to Vail and Aspen, so the ability for cars to share information about changing weather conditions will hopefully reduce accidents.

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Work is scheduled to begin this year.

Innovation will continue to come from the simplest and sometimes unlikely sources. Although Microsoft pulled out of CES after 2012, (then-CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote speeches were not well-received and generated little news), the company held a surprise event for the media last week to talk about the history behind the development of their Surface Book laptop with its unusual telescoping hinge which flexes as it opens.

In a rare appearance by one of the company’s top designers, Ralf Groene described how his team struggled with how to design the hinge for months until one employee was browsing in a Tokyo airport gift shop while waiting for a flight home from Japan and noticed a green paper folder with a telescoping binder. He brought it back to Microsoft and the rest is history.

Singapore has big plans for ride sharing

The ride sharing economy rolls merrily onward, showing no signs of slowing down.

At a session to discuss future trends, one official from Singapore talked about the emergence of a locally-developed ride sharing app called SWAT, which charges commuters a flat fee of $5 per ride regardless of distance. “Our goal is 100 percent shared mobility in Singapore,” said Karen Tay, the country’s “smart nation” director.

The increasing popularity of drones means greater regulatory control.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed during CES that over 670,000 drones have been registered with the government, a trend that is driving the agency to press for rules for governing an increasingly chaotic sky. Part of the new directives under consideration involve regulations called “Operations Over People.” They are already known in the drone community as “OOPS.”

With all the changes in technology, one of the constant battles involves the struggle to make products less complex for consumers. What might “wow” a group of engineers in Silicon Valley may not be quite as well received by a grandmother in Iowa. Industry leaders were quick to acknowledge this in Las Vegas last week, although sometimes the message gets a little lost in translation. “The complexity is decomplexifying the complex,” said Alison Lewis, the chief marketing officer for Johnson & Johnson, during a keynote panel discussion at CES. And her company makes baby oil.

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