By Harry McCracken
January 9, 2014

Even if you haven’t heard of CES, the consumer-tech industry’s annual January gadgetfest in Las Vegas, you’ve certainly lived with some of the products that were launched there. Cases in point: the compact-disc player, which debuted in 1981, and high-definition television, which appeared in 1998. To be sure, the expo is also known for big promises that didn’t exactly pan out. (See mid-’90s AT&T videophones.) And yet it’s the best place to get a first look at the new ideas in technology that may well wind up changing your life–eventually.

This year, during the keynote presentation, Audi’s A7 sedan rolled onto the stage–without anybody in the driver’s seat. The technology, which Audi calls piloted driving, could show up in production models in the next few years. Both Samsung and LG showed off jumbo-size so-called ultra-high-definition TVs with screens that deliver a 3-D-like effect, no goofy glasses required. And a raft of companies, from Sony to Pebble, debuted small, wearable devices that can track everything from sleep to exercise. Here’s a look at some of the most exciting new tech that was unveiled this year.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the January 20, 2014 issue of TIME.

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