What is CES?
CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, came to a close on January 16th in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES is the almost 50-year-old annual trade show that features all the latest and greatest (and many not so) technologies and gadgets from around the world. While I’ve worked in the consumer electronics industry for nearly 20 years, this was only my second time attending the show. The last time I attended was 7 years ago, and my how things have changed. More than 170,000 people attended the show this year, including 50,000 from outside of the U.S., the largest attendance on record.
Drones were everywhere
With 2.5 million square feet this year, you could view displays and take part in demonstrations from a wide array of products, including drones (so many drones!) and self-driving cars, to video games, curved OLED screens and virtual reality as well as smart, internet-connected, appliances, bicycles, dog collars and so much more. With the focus of the show on the growth of the connected world and Internet of Things (IoT, and more on that in a minute), there’s a lot more that fits into the “consumer electronics” classification than there once was. As usual, all the big names in technology were there; including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LG and pretty much everyone else you’d expect.
Connect all the things!
Everything is being connected to the Internet and this includes things that lots of people may not think of connecting. You’ve probably heard of the connected home or world, often known as the IoT. For those of you who haven’t, don’t worry, you soon will. Connectivity is coming to everything – from your car, watch and clothing to your trash can, water bottle and toilet (yes, your toilet). However, while many of the devices seem to have dubious value or only offer slight conveniences, IoT is also bringing technology to the consumer market that will have definite benefits. These IoT devices include smart medication monitors that allow for better condition management, sensors that can monitor the elderly and allow them to stay in their homes longer or intelligent baby monitors that can reduce the number of deaths from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The future of consumer electronics will go beyond entertainment and convenience and truly add meaningful value to our lives.
A new era of consumer technology
We’re still in the early days, but the new era of consumer technology is definitely upon us. It may be a while before all the dominant players emerge, the technologies are standardized and security is what it needs to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start to experience the connected world now. You’ll already find a number of big brands, including Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung, within the IoT space. There are a lot of products that are reaching a level of maturity and offer the reliability, consumer experience and security necessary for wide-adoption. These include the fitness trackers that will help us burn more calories or adopt better posture, smart watches that connect with our phones, and fairly easy-to-install home monitoring and security systems that until recently were once only available for much higher prices or monthly monitoring fees.
I have no doubt that CES 2017 will be bigger and have even more connected devices. We’ll continue to see and hear more about wearables, connected homes and the IoT consumer experience. There will be a lot of exciting, life-enriching developments along with some that will leave us wondering who would ever pay for such a thing. (Do I really need a collar that monitors my cat’s activity? Even if I found that information interesting, what could I actually do with it?) See you next year!