Every January, the world waits in anticipation to see what nifty new gadgets will be unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This year, Impress Labs sent me, Cameron Crowe, resident gadget aficionado, into the trenches at CES 2016 to find out what technologies were destined to be the next “it” device.
Not surprisingly, I found that this year’s offerings reflect the world’s growing obsession with smart devices to enable a connected world. Some of the most popular areas were those devoted to the Internet of Things and smart home automation. Here are some of the other highlights:
Drones are everywhere, they’re intelligent and they’re not just for the military anymore. France-based Parrot is taking the lead on this, demonstrating drones for the consumer market that have synchronization capabilities and a sleek, fixed-wing design with video stabilization. On these drone platforms, chip manufacturers like Intel are developing technologies that allow drones to track a moving subject while navigating obstacles. Given the range of motion and autonomous tracking, we can expect that the camera operator of the future will be a drone.
Virtual reality is becoming a reality
Judging by the line outside the Oculus booth, virtual reality (VR) is here, and it has the attention of consumers of all shapes and sizes. The truth is, there are so many potential applications for VR that have yet to be fully realized, it feels like we all play a big role in the market discovery process. One area that will be impacted heavily by the increasing availability and performance of VR devices is the video game industry. I had the distinct pleasure of trying the Vuzix iWear Video Headphones and was absolutely blown away by the graphics and sound quality. We’ve come a long way from Nintendo 64.
Driverless cars: the race is on
If anything was the “it” product this year, it was the semiautonomous smart vehicle. Ford, GM, Audi and Volkswagen(!) were all present and accounted for. Fuel and energy management were often lauded as a top-line benefit, and most manufacturers are aiming to take the driver out of the picture as soon as possible. It’s no secret that the industry is shifting gears to focus on automation, but the rate at which we may see mainstream adoption could be much sooner than expected.
TVs are so last year
In years past, OLED TVs, HDTVs, 3D HDTVs, 4K TVs, 8K TVs and smart TVs took a turn in the limelight as the “it” CES product. Not this year. In fact, interest in TV technology has (apparently) hit a threshold and seems to be waning. Maybe there’s only so much you can do with resolution?
It’s all about the bass
Resolution may be out, but advancements in audio and acoustics is definitely in. It’s all about improving the home theater experience with minimal hardware and setup. Two speakers and a sound bar is all you really need for fully immersive “3D” surround sound. Samsung’s latest speaker system uses two upward-facing speakers to “bounce” sound off your ceiling. This approach is designed to mimic the highly regarded Dolby Atmos system used in theaters.
As for the rest of my CES 2016 adventure, well, a picture is worth a thousand words.