Here’s some of the technology that’s set to make a ‘quantum leap’ in 2019

The Bell Nexus flying taxi at the 2019 CES.

From foldable cellphones to high tech burgers, more than 4,500 companies showcased their latest technology at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show which took place in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Even though tech behemoth Apple does not make an appearance, the trade show gives the public a glimpse at emerging tech trends for 2019 and beyond.

One of the most anticipated technologies is 5G – the next generation wireless network that experts say could be as much as ten times faster than broadband.

Cutting edge tech

Cutting edge tech  12:31 PM ET Fri, 18 Jan 2019 | 04:23

“I see a huge quantum leap from going from 4G to 5G, much bigger than 3G to 4G. And of course, my expectation is that we are going to see so much more innovation,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC recently.

Chris Velazco, Engadget’s senior mobile editor told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview that “2019 is going to be the year of 5G, this is going to be the first year people will actually be able to buy devices and jump on the 5G networks,” he said.

As a result, 5G “will have really big ramifications for the way we use our devices and the way these devices talk to each other,” he added.

The technology won’t be for everyone, however – at least not right away. Meanwhile, Velazo admitted that 5G technology “still feels like it’s a lot of talk. We don’t have a great sense of how these things pan out in more concrete ways.”

Yet one technology that did make an impression at CES was foldable screen technology. At the event, LG showcased a 4K OLED TV that rolls up when you don’t want to watch it.

The 65-inch 4K OLED TV when it's fully unrolled.

Watch this super thin TV roll up and disappear in seconds  11:46 AM ET Mon, 7 Jan 2019 | 01:31

But it’s not just big screens: A Chinese company called Royole showed off its flexible screen technology for a smartphone/table called the FlexPai. This is the world’s first commercially available foldable phone, and it beat Samsung and Apple to market. The company is currently taking orders: The cost? A whopping $1,318, even more than an iPhone.

However you may want to hold off. Velazco had a chance to check out the device while at CES, and he admitted “they’re maybe not the most polished devices.”

Yet he found the technology compelling. “The ability to fold out and use the phone as a tablet is frankly really powerful,” he told CNBC.

If you’re looking to take a deeper dive into meditation, a Canadian company called Interaxon recently released the Muse 2.

The headband goes across your forehead and reads brainwaves in real-time. It then uses auditory cues to provide feedback on the user’s meditation state.

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality (AR) technology, it usually means wearing large glasses over your eyes, blocking out the world around you.

Chinese startup Nreal has plans this year to release their version called Light – which as its name suggests – is a lighter version.

“They’ve been able to take the technology that makes some really impressive AR devices like the Microsoft HoloLens and the Magic Leap and converted it down to this form factor,” Velazco told CNBC.

Impossible Burger

Air New Zealand
Impossible Burger

But the tech editor admits one of the bigger surprises at CES, based on the level of people that seemed into it, was Gillette’s heated razor. And the name really says it all.

“It’s a heated razor that’s meant to sort of replicate the experience of getting a hot towel wet shave at a barber shop.” The razor is not in stores yet but according to Engadet’s report, it will retail for $160.

Another surprising find at CES was burgers. Impossible Foods showed off their latest meatless burger recipe: Impossible Burger 2.0.

“The original Impossible Burger used wheat protein and it tasted pretty good, but it kind of didn’t give you the same kind of mouth feel that a traditional burger would,” Velazco explained. “So they rejiggered the formula. This [latest version] is based on soy protein.”

He added: “You actually get a bit more of the experience of eating meat, plus I think the flavor has been upgraded as well.”

[“source=cnbc”]

Yes, you still need to pay your student loans during the shutdown — but you could hit some snags

Despite the partial government shutdown, it should (mostly) be business as usual for students relying on federal student loans to afford college and borrowers repaying them.

The Department of Education remains fully funded, which means its contractors are still collecting student loan payments and the agency is still dispersing grants and federal student loans. Still, students, borrowers and schools may experience some hiccups for tasks that require information from another agency experiencing greater impacts from the shutdown, like the IRS.

“It’s the other departments that are running into some issues,” said Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of savingforcollege.com and a financial aid expert.

Here’s what you need to know:

Borrowers repaying their student loans

Perhaps the most important thing that borrowers who are repaying their student loans should know is that the shutdown doesn’t affect their student loan bills.

Borrowers “should be operating as if everything is normal and there is no disruption at all,” said Justin Draeger, the president of the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, a professional association for financial aid officers. In other words: “Don’t stop paying your loans,” he says.

Still, the shutdown could impact some borrowers trying to manage their debt. Borrowers who want to take advantage of the government’s income-driven repayment plans, which allow them to pay off their debt as a percentage of their income, need to show proof of income to their student loan servicer. They also need to recertify their income every year to stay on the plans.

The IRS, which has had many of its duties curtailed due to the shutdown, typically plays a role in both cases. Usually, borrowers will use the IRS data retrieval tool, which electronically transfers tax information into their income driven repayment plan application. Department of Education officials say the tool is operating as normal. The IRS did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Borrowers applying for an income-driven repayment plan or re-certifying their income for an IDR plan should try to use the data retrieval tool, Kantrowitz said. If for some reason, they hit a snag — the tools don’t always run perfectly, he noted — under normal circumstances a borrower would download their tax transcript from the IRS and file a paper application.

But the tax transcript service is currently down. Officials at the Department of Education and the IRS told Politico the outage isn’t due to the shutdown and they expect the tool to be back up on January 14. In the meantime, while the shutdown persists, borrowers trying to get their tax information will likely struggle to find someone to take their calls at the IRS, Kantrowitz said.

Borrowers whose circumstances have changed since they last filed their tax return — information that won’t be reflected in the data retrieval tool — can use other documentation to prove their income, like pay stubs or a letter from their employer. But because those documents typically show net income and not gross income — which is available through tax documents and on which the calculation for income-driven repayment plans are usually based — borrowers’ loan payments could wind up being higher, Kantrowitz said.

Students applying for and receiving aid

The lack of availability of tax transcripts is also causing a snag for some students applying for aid, experts say. Roughly 30% of students who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, are flagged for verification each year, a process that requires them to prove their income. Typically these students use a tax transcript to verify their income.

“Basically there’s a big bottleneck in the process at this point,” said David Baime, the senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges.

Baime said his organization has heard from its member schools “with great concern” about students unable to complete their FAFSA due to the tax transcript issue. Unfortunately, this issue is likely affecting students who need the funds the most — college officials say they observe that low-income students are more likely to be flagged for verification.

“The bottom line is that our colleges — and their students more importantly — are really in many places in a very difficult situation in terms of financing,” Baime said.

Again, the agencies say this delay isn’t related to the government shutdown, but is the result of scheduled maintenance.

Students who find themselves in this situation should contact the schools they’re working with to find out what they need to submit and when they need to submit it, Draeger said. In some cases, colleges are working with students to allow them to start the semester in the absence of financing until the issues are resolved, Baime said.

Questions on the FAFSA that require interactions with other agencies are also causing hiccups for some students and schools. In order to qualify for federal financial aid, male students need to register for the draft. The FAFSA typically performs a database match with the Selective Service Administration to make sure required students have registered, but right now that match is failing, Draeger said. Colleges are able to look students up individually to make sure they’re registered, he said.

Despite these challenges, for the most part, students shouldn’t see any effect on their financial aid during the shutdown, Draeger said.

“The Department [of Education] is funded, federal student aid dollars are flowing,” he said.

Government workers affected by the shutdown

Though most student loan borrowers aren’t impacted by the shutdown, those who belong to the group of government workers that are furloughed and not receiving a paycheck may be struggling to make their monthly payments.

The Department of Education advises borrowers for whom that’s the case to contact their student loan servicer to discuss their repayment options.

Adam Minsky, a Boston-based student loan lawyer, suggests government workers who are furloughed and on an income-driven plan apply to have their monthly payments reduced based on their changed circumstances. If possible, they should resist entering a forbearance — a temporary status that pauses payments, but where interest accrues.

Entering forbearance could wind up costing borrowers more in the long run both because interest capitalizes at the end of a forbearance period and because any time spent in forbearance delays progress towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows borrowers working in public service, including for the federal government, to have their loans forgiven after at least 10 years of payments.

[“source=marketwatch”]