Every year, the world of consumer technology works off the holiday fat with a trip to Vegas.
That’s because that’s where CES takes place, usually the second week in January. Given that the big tech show is just over a week away, I thought I’d take a look at which areas I see as heating up and cooling off for this year’s show.
No doubt about it, wearables in its various forms will see strong interest. Fitness, smartwatches, glasses and even smart fabrics will have a strong buzz, which stands in slight contrast to last year where it was a curiosity, but not one of the major areas of focus.
Home automation and smart home has been around for over two decades, but unlike in previous years, it seems there is some real heat to this space. The reason? Strong interest driven by both carriers and sexy new startups like Nest and Smart Things.
While most of the action in 3D printing for the next few years will be in services, manufacturing and business markets, that doesn’t stop the likes of Makerbot and other startups in this space from getting lots of press at consumer-centric CES. I’m interested to see how Makerbot rounds out its product line (they’ve already offered up a scanner), how much emphasis they put on Thingiverse and if they come out with a true consumer-priced printer (doubt it).
Low end consumer robotics and drones have been an ever-growing presence at CES for the past few years, but this year it could be one of the biggest areas of interest. Of course, Bezos’ drone surprise on 60 Minutes is partially responsible, but the fact of the matter is there’s been lots of progress in robotic and drones in 2013 (as evidenced on places like Kickstarter) and expect some of this to be on display in Vegas.
Gaming is always a fairly big story, and mobile and app-centric gaming has been the trend of interest the last few years. However, with the launch of the new generation in earnest this past fall and the rise of new immersive interfaces such as that of Oculus Rift, I expect a rejuvenated interest in gaming this year.
CES 2013 was the apex for social TV and second screen startups, but over the past year the industry has consolidated as many companies struggled to gain both an audience and revenue. Twitter bought those companies which seemed to have some traction in analytics, while those with actual technology (such as ACR) are part of a broader TV discovery and guide story.
Connected and 4K TVs
For as long as CES has been going, bigger, sharper and (more recently) more connected TVs have been a big part of that story every January. That will be the case this year, but I can’t help but think there’s less interest in the fairly steady and evolutionary process of TVs, particularly given that the one company many are hoping will make a move in this space – Apple – doesn’t show up at CES.
The mobile wars continue, but I think the bigger story is what happens around the phone (such as wearables, etc) that is interesting. The smartphone will no doubt be the center of our digital lifestyles, but watch the areas which it serves as a hub (wearables, as a remote, etc) to be the most interesting.
We get it, compute and content is increasingly in the cloud, not local. While there are a few areas where I think this makes for an interesting story (the reinvention of the grid guide to a cloud-based guide), overall cloud is losing steam as a marketing and technological differentiator and this should be evident at CES this coming year.