Weekly hot topics in consumer trends -- 3D at home, electric cars, greening the palate

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The Independent Online

3D television took another step closer to our living rooms this week, electric vehicles dominated in the car capital of the US, and GM food production came under the spotlight again in Berlin.

This week saw the unveiling of Samsung's LED9000 3D TV, a TV that converts 2D TV into 3D images "on the fly." Measuring less than the width of a pencil, the device is scheduled for launch in 2010 and connects to internet to offer access to services such as social networking, live weather reports and a large array of other internet applications.

Global marketing communications firm JWT believes that "3D is the new HD," with the format set to break into the small screen this year as successfully as it has done the big screen thanks to Avatar. Expect further three-dimensional invasions of the living room later this year - sports network ESPN plans to launch a dedicated 3D channel in time for soccer's World Cup in June, the Discovery Channel has also partnered with Sony and IMAX to launch a multi-genre channel, and BSkyB has been promoting its upcoming 3D channel in the UK.

Electric cars, another JWT "thing to watch" for 2010, dominated the North American International Auto Show this week, with the "Electric Avenue" exhibit proving a hit for media and industry attendees. The buzz around electric vehicles at one of the world's most influential trade shows was palpable, with manufacturers lining up to show their battery-powered concepts.

Ford announced it is to invest an additional $450 (€310) million in its "aggressive electric vehicle plan," enabling it to deliver a pure electric Ford Transit Connect van in 2010. On Electric Avenue, Audi and BMW premiered concept vehicles whilst General Motors and Chinese automaker BYD displayed the real thing - the Chevrolet Volt and BYD e6 are both due to hit US roads later in 2010. NAIAS is open to the public through January 24.

In Germany, the world's largest agricultural fair began January 14 with protests from Greenpeace demonstrators seeking a ban on genetically modified potatoes. JWT thinks that in 2010 "people will become increasingly aware of the impact their food has on the environment," with consumers beginning to question where their food comes from and the impact of production.

Berlin's International Green Week is expected to attract 400,000 visitors from around the world, with 22 stages and cookery studios highlighting over 100,000 specialties from around the world. The show aims to highlight new concepts in agriculture and climate change, but offers exhibits for the whole family - younger visitors can take home a "nutritional certificate" or create their own "Take-away mini-garden." The show runs through January 24.