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From Las Vegas: The 2015 Consumer Electronics and Consumer Technology tradeshow

January 5th, 2015 |  Published in CES 2015

CES 2015

 

 

5 January 2015 – The International CES is a global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow that takes place every January in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year the show runs from January 6th to January 9th. The show floor does not open until tomorrow but today the show kicks off with a jam-packed schedule of keynotes, events and the official CES opening party.

Oh, and a continuation of the usual corporate strategy of carpet-bombing CES attendees with new announcements. We thought LegalTech was bad. Ha. Those guys are bush league.

The show is simply enormous. Last year was a record breaking year across all fronts: 160,500+ attendees; 6,500+ media journalists covering it; 3,600+ exhibitors over 2.1 million square feet; 140+ countries represented; 20,000+ new product announcements; and 45+ elected Federal and State officials making presentations, plus 20+ Federal government officials.

Oh, and our biggest ever collection of swag 🙂

CES amplifies the trends that are coming and exposes the ones that are fading. Last year, it was the stage for a spectacular deluge of new wearable devices, spanning the full gamut from a basketball shooting coach to a wrist-worn speaker. There were also bendable TVs, self-driving cars, and Sony’s ultra-ambitious PlayStation Now cloud gaming initiative.

And CES 2015 looks set to extend the themes of its predecessor into the present year, as the one thing 2014 lacked was successful execution of all the novel ideas it started off with. Last year’s show was characterized by a lot of failed experimentation and hurried execution. There’s still progress to be made in the areas of health and fitness tracking, there are more (and more unusual) devices to connect around the home, and car automation is moving from the periphery to the forefront of CES’s biggest announcements.

And EVERYONE is in the tech business now. The continuing melding of the worlds of fashion and technology will be full of intriguing contrasts. Established tech leaders like Intel are working hard to create attractive new shells for their wares, while clothing and sports companies are looking to smarten up what they already have. Their products and approaches differ, which should produce greater diversity and choice for the consumer.

But as we scrolled through the exhibitor list this year we saw “first timers” like Adidas, Gucci, L’Oreal, Levis, New Balance, etc. swelling the ranks of exhibitors. These brands have always relied heavily on technology to improve and refine their products, but they’re now joining the CEA because they are starting to sell literal pieces of technology to their consumers. For a company like Adidas, the overarching mission is to associate itself with anything and everything you might use to keep fit, so it’s unimportant whether that means a high-tech new mesh for running vests or a new iteration of the miCoach training watch. Or some combination of the two, as there are now increasing efforts toward making intelligent clothing that can sense and record the intensity of your workout.

Some of our focus areas this year:

Wearables

We’ll be “watching” (get it?) as dozens of companies unveil “revolutionary” wearable devices ahead of the Apple Watch event later this year. That’s smart, because this is basically the last chance to launch one before the arrival of the Apple Watch which most consider the wearable that’s best positioned for mainstream consumer success. In the meantime, pulling from 2,000+ emails we’ve received the past few weeks (range from the jargony to the hyperbolic to the seemingly potentially useful) we note the following:

“the first lifestyle wearable that uses enhanced neurosignaling to shift people’s state of mind in areas related to energy, calm and focus”

“the next generation of truly meaningful wearable technology … [a] new wearable consumer pain therapy device”

“hardware agnostic capabilities enabling first-person POV workplace collaboration for real-time project management … configure, deploy and manage industrialized wearable devices while capturing, quantifying and transforming data into actionable intelligence”

“pioneering conversations with the next generation of wearables, applications, and other devices that we will experience as part of the connected home and connected enterprise, as well as the future of connected consumer health and fitness … including a voice-enabled consumer health app prototype on a wearable device“

“a new type of smart textile that turns garments into active motion sensors … used to make comfortable and washable clothing and provides users information not available from existing wearables, such as tips to improve posture and athletic movements”

“a MouthGuard worn by football players and other athletes, with data sensors that relay real-time head impact data for concussion management protocols” (concussion management protocols??)

Autonomous driving

Ok, not a new theme. It’s not even a new theme at CES, in fact: the last several years have seen announcements and demonstrations from various automakers showcasing just how little attention we’ll need to pay to the road someday. But the reality is that even in 2014 precious little autonomous technology was in dealerships — the technology still needs to improve, laws need to be passed, and consumers need to be informed. That’s where CES, a show that’s hyper-focused on consumer technology, comes into play. We expect to see a lot of self-driving demonstrations at CES once again, paired with a slew of connected car initiatives — CarPlay and Android Auto are big topics right now, and automakers are in the hot seat to show support for them.

Internet of things for everything (again)

The rush to stick Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into everything in your house has been going on for years. Yet, what’s really been missing (beyond a good reason to do it at all) is having all those connected appliances play nice with one another. If you buy smart devices from different companies, they aren’t usually capable of working together and sharing data. It’s the biggest hurdle to achieving the longstanding goal of a smart home, and one that’s only going to get bigger as more and more device makers add smarts to their products.

So this year we have noted lots of gadgets are looking for a common language to help them communicate. Companies have been trying to fix that by making platforms and inking alliances to settle on standards. That includes Intel, which recently announced a platform to make it easier and safer for connected devices to be built and talk to one another and the cloud. There’s also Apple and its HomeKit, which has gone from an idea at a developer conference to hardware and software that developers can now harness. Though Apple won’t have a booth or a press conference at CES, there will be plenty of HomeKit-ready products from other companies, ranging from home security to power outlets and lighting systems.

Cameras

CES has never been a huge show for camera announcements, but this year things are likely to be especially dire. Outside of CES, the camera industry’s big show for new announcements is the biannual Photokina in Cologne, Germany, which just happened this past September. Many of the cameras launched there, such as Fujifilm’s X100T, Canon’s G7x, and Panasonic’s LX100, are just getting into consumers’ hands now, and the chances that camera makers will supersede those with new models at CES are pretty slim.

But expect to see plenty of camcorders — and perhaps an action cam or two. Lots and lots of camcorder announcements.

Virtual reality. Like, that you an buy. Like, for real!

When Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion back in March, it was an investment into what the company viewed as one of the next big computing platforms after mobile. The screens we’re holding in our hands could one day be stuck to our faces — and that day might not be too far off into the future. Oculus has been the darling of CES for two years running, but numerous other companies are now getting involved with their own virtual reality solutions. Expect to see the final version of the Virtuix Omni, the bowl-like device that lets you run around virtual worlds with your very real feet. Avegant’s Glyph, which is still in development, will also be making an appearance as will Sulon Technologies’ Cortex, a headset that debuted at the Game Developers Conference in March and blends together both virtual and augmented reality.

The reversible USB era begins

We need to give a hat tip to our connections at the Mobile World Congress on this one, who have been feeding us info since much of this will also be at Barcelona next month.

To make cables interesting to the general public, you usually have to dress them up in extravagant titles like Thunderbolt or Lightning, but that’s not the case with USB Type-C. The new, reversible connector for the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus means shrinking the connector down to Micro USB size and making it symmetrical means it can fit into even thinner devices and, more importantly, in any orientation. The new standard, which was finalized in August, will also unite mobile and desktop devices around a single connector, helping to blur the line between the two categories.

At least one motherboard manufacturer is planning to introduce its first hardware with reversible USB Type-C ports built in, and Nokia has already announced that the N1 tablet will use the new standard. Look out for more names to quickly join the list of Type-C supporters as 2015 gives us an awesome new reason to upgrade: the simple convenience of never having to guess which way a plug goes in.

Ok, we’ve just skimmed the surface. We’re off to an all-you-can-eat breakfast warm-up.

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"The mind that lies fallow but a single day sprouts up follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous culture."
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