This was no ordinary year for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas; it was the 50th year anniversary.
“Only a few events and trade shows have 50 years of success, and we are humbled to be in this elite group,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
CES advancing technology for 50 years
CES made its debut in New York City in June of 1967.
In its first year the trade show attracted “17,500 attendees and featured 117 exhibitors demonstrating products such as transistor radios, stereos and small-screen black-and-white TVs, including the first solid-state TV,” according to the CTA.
Fast forward to 2017, which hit record numbers with more than 3,800 exhibitors, spread across 2.47 million square feet and attracting 177,393 attendees, according to an official CTA fact sheet. CES has transformed into a truly global staple of innovation and technology, appealing to more than 50,000 international professionals representing 150 countries.
With this vast spread of tech and talent, trends were bound to surface. But just as this was no ordinary year for CES, this is no ordinary CES coverage.
Matt Suits, Kaleidoscope’s expert in New Business Development, took to the hallways and surveyed the CES scene. The following are less obvious trends Matt forecasts to be top performers as we move into a robust and versatile tech year.
#1: The incorporation of baby tech.
As the digitally raised generation becomes the parents of the future, baby tech is going to be an ever-important and growing category within the consumer tech segment. CES 2017 provided a peek into the world of hands-free breast pumps, smart cradles, fertility and pregnancy wearables, and health monitoring wearables for infants.
It left me wondering “where were these products when I was a kid?” and “I can only imagine what my parents would have given to have these products while raising me.”
The ah-hah moment was realizing technology is not being incorporated into these products for the sake of showboating new tech. Companies have thoughtfully designed every aspect of the product to maximize efficiency and provide a great user experience for both the parents and the child.
With an estimated $67 billion in sales this year, there is much to anticipate from baby tech in the near future.
#2: FinTech (financial tech) is here to stay.
With a virtual raise of your hand, how many of us have done the awkward pat-down at the gas station right before you are about to pay? I have done it many times and there is no greater fear than not being able to locate your wallet as you are about to pay. Honda and Visa have come together to solve that pat-down problem with the introduction of the in-vehicle payment service.
“Payments have evolved from physical plastic cards to a digital, mobile wallet and Honda sees this as an opportunity to bring this technology into the car to pay for services from the comfort of one’s own car,” said John Moon, Developer Relations Lead at Honda Developer Studio.
Now the users have the ability to receive a notification once the car is in park next to the pump to input the amount of gas they would like to pump and the cost associated with the purchase.
“Turning the car into a platform for payments offers a nearly endless array of ways for automakers, drivers, merchants and other infrastructure companies to completely transform tasks that are tied to cars in some shape or form. Working with Honda, we both see the huge opportunity this presents for our respective industries, and how we can collectively simplify many daily tasks from the car,” said Avin Arumugam, senior vice president of Internet of things (IoT) at Visa Inc.
#3: MR (mixed reality) is the underdog that everyone will cheer for in 2017.
“Mixed reality refers to the combination or merging of virtual environment together with real environment where both of them can co-exist together. Sometimes, people also refer to it as ‘Hybrid Reality.’”- Daniel Sutko
Mixed reality (MR) was unfortunately overlooked due to AR/VR, drones, autonomous cars, TV’s and wearables at CES 2017. However, it has the greatest potential to have the largest impact on both the emerging tech segment and the industries outside of tech. By creating applications not limited to the tech industry, the possibilities are limitless. Imagine the value MR could provide to the video entertainment, life events, retail, real estate, education, healthcare, engineering and healthcare segments.
“By combining analog, two-dimensional ways of working with new mixed–reality experiences, we can transform our ability to communicate, collaborate and create,” writes Pete Sena in Tech Crunch. “The challenge for businesses will not be to provide a more immersive experience, but a more valuable experience.”
#4: All you need to say is “Hello…”
Voice-based virtual assistants conquered CES, and are looking to conquer the world next. Amazon’s Alexa has positioned itself as the leading user interface – ahead of Alphabet’s Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri.
“Voice-based user interfaces allow for hands-free control of devices,” according to a recent article from Investors.com. “Consumers can use spoken commands to control thermostats, lighting, streaming music players and other gadgets. With gadgets like Echo, users can ask questions and do web searches by asking questions aloud and getting spoken responses.”
It is quite impressive that Amazon’s Alexa not only debuted this year at CES, but was also found in almost every booth. Amazon has not limited itself in its application capabilities and has already begun to structure partnerships with companies like LG, Lenovo, Ford, Mattel, GE, Whirlpool and Samsung to name a few. Given the amount of time we now spend in our cars, on our cellphones, in our kitchens or amidst our TV’s and appliances, the attractiveness of the user interface by Amazon’s Alexa/Echo is highly understandable. Achieving the smart/connected ecosystem has taken a big leap forward, thanks to the achievements of Amazon.
Looking forward to CES 2018
I have hung up my CES 2017 badge and now stand in awe as I reflect back at the success these companies have achieved by turning a “back of the envelope,” SciFi experiment into a reality. CES not only showcases what the future holds in technology, but also the great strides and success that have made these products a reality. I am anxious to witness all of these emerging technologies take hold in the upcoming year and I am already looking forward to CES 2018.
Investors.com: Amazon Alexa Dominates Voice-Command Tech At CES 2017
International Business Times: The best new baby tech gadgets: Parents going gaga for this booming business
Press Kitchen: Top VR, AR and MR That Stole the Show at CES 2017