Spilling out of the Las Vegas Convention Center into three new remote hubs in total covering 2.4 million square feet and with over 20,000 new products from over 3,600 exhibitors, I searched the Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2016) for trends that will most impact our everyday lives.
And yes, you turn a corner and find yourself mesmerized by the latest iteration of interactive robots.
But what caught my focus centered on what we’ll likely see in our homes and use every day across 2016.
The Electronics Evolution
We can expect in 2016 to see much in the way of “adjacent innovation” in our electronics – not groundbreaking new products we’d only dreamed of before, but instead innovative riffs on existing products. Tablets, computers, TVs, and mobile phones get ever more slim, fast, charge holding, visually sharp, capacious in storage, app-laden, affordable, and curvier. I’m calling this trend the “Electronics Evolution.” No huge tsunami this year, just lots of incremental waves.
Tablets, computers, TVs, and mobile phones get ever more slim, fast, charge holding, visually sharp, capacious in storage, app-laden, affordable, and curvier. I’m calling this trend the “Electronics Evolution.” No huge tsunami this year, just lots of incremental waves.
Yes, you had to duck to stay out of the way of 27 companies with myriad demonstration drones, which keep getting smaller, nimbler, have longer battery life, farther ranges, and carry more powerful cameras with 360-degree video capacity. This whole category seems currently one step up from toy electronic helicopters, with visions of neighborhood disputes as the small drones dart overhead, taking photos, and getting tangled in electric wires or trees. For now on the consumer front, expect open spaces with some cool views from on high, along with the ability to don goggles and watch that video in 3D.
From fantastical one-off demos last year, now Virtual Reality headsets have become less expensive and more accessible to our everyday lives. At CES 2016, you could see innumerable folks donning augmented and virtual reality gear to gaze at the future of gaming and entertainment.
From Appliances to Smart Homes, the Internet of Things Will Change Everything
Everything from household appliances to our lights to our temperature settings at home will get connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), where eventually we’ll control them all from our Smartphones with the swipe of a finger.
The market has a lot of individual devices that will start talking to the Internet, but there’s no cohesion. The big question becomes “what will be the system that becomes the brain that will control all?” From CES, we saw a number of brands in the smart home segment, including Google’s Nest, Amazon’s Echo, Lowe’s Iris, Apple HomeKit, and Google’s Brillo.
Nest Home, Amazon & Google Want to Run Everything Inside Your Home
The new buzz on the street when it comes to connected and smart homes: “Nest-compatible.” The Nest, up to now running the thermostats in houses and carbon monoxide detection, has amped up to take over central control of connected devices in our homes. Everything from door locks to light bulbs to appliances now reference the compatibility and integration into Nest home, as well as their ability to communicate with other Nest products, such as the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the Nest thermostat, and Nest security camera.
And don’t forget that Google owns Nest, so just in case you’re worried about all the data Google owns about us now, the Nest will add into the mix when we’re home and what we’re doing within our homes. Hello Big Brother, 2016.
Consumer Health Trackers & Mobile Health
Two key trends in the health tracker area emerged at CES, and the first includes the ability for consumers to conduct non-invasive screenings via mobile devices. As we see more and more virtual health care services, devices such as MightySat (an oximeter that attaches to the finger) and MedWand (a virtual medical exam tool) use mobile technology to help facilitate remote health checks.
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Another trend centered around the evolution of consumer health devices. This year at CES, we saw wearables that use technology – instead of mechanical or other means – to track or address health-related issues. These wearables include HealBe, which measures the glucose concentrations on your skin to track your calorie count, and the Reliefband, which combats the nausea and vomiting that come with motion or morning sickness.
Fitness Trackers Evolve & Multiply
Who cares about smart watches, when you’ve got innumerable and ever-improving fitness bands, attachable monitors, and wearables at your disposal? What started with a few trackers has proliferated to consume an entire section of CES. Now these devices have started opening up to third-party software, which enables your fitness tracker to communicate with the machines in your gym to record workout stats.
The big issue this year with fitness trackers proves to be that companies continue to add more and more innovations to the devices. From the TomTom Spark (which I sampled at CES) to the new Fitbit Blaze, these fitness trackers now allow you to list a huge variety of activities that otherwise would not be picked up by the technology. You can select your activity – such as cycling, yoga, swimming, or skiing – and track your fitness appropriately.
Moreover, fitness tracker companies have started designing these devices to look more like jewelry. Some resemble traditional timepieces – which appeal to the 40+ crowd – while WiseWear developed The Socialite Collection, which looks like a gold or silver bracelet. Not only does it track your fitness, it also comes with a safety feature where the user can tap on it three times, and it sends out a distress signal to whomever you’ve designated as your emergency contact.
Wearables Get Increasingly Woven Into Sports Clothing & Shoes
One trend emerging out of CES centered around the sophistication of wearables. From hats to sneaker sensors, clothing will increasingly tell us everything from how far and how fast we ran to what happened to our heartbeat while exercising – all sent to our mobile phone.
Cars Get Hacked & Connected
Last year, we started hearing quite a bit about the data port located low on the driver’s side of our car that enables repair diagnostics to be run by auto shops. This year, the hacking of this data port to use it as a Trojan horse entry to our car electronics starts to take shape in the way of easily accessible consumer products.
Simultaneously, outside apps and entertainment have started making their way into the next generation of cars. Connections with our Smartphones power up even more car-specific apps, and someday down the pike our kids may not be getting drivers’ licenses as much as getting tucked into safer driver-less cars. Meanwhile, the onboard dashboards and navigation systems of our cars will smarten up in 2016.
Kids' Toys Get Super Smart
You know we’ve entered a new era when insights from Watson’s super-computer help inform dialogue interactions between our kids and their electronic toys.
This year at CES, the most striking toys proved to be ones designed to help kids – from early ages onward – focus on coding. For example, Fisher-Price featured the Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar – where kids build the toy segment by segment. Each segment makes the caterpillar do different things, so early on, kids can understand how to create movements.
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Ziro created an easy-to-assemble kit that enables kids – ages 8-15 – to build robots, using a smart glove to operate them wirelessly. Finally, the Boud Company designed Pic, a mobile video camera, made from a pliable material that can wrap around anything from bike handles to ankles and capture daily activities.