Walking through the crowded halls at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is like taking a stroll into the not-too-distant future, and it’s glorious. CES is a massive event filled with thousands of companies eager to show off their latest and greatest innovations, and it’s clear that a few areas in particular are capturing most of the attention.
Here are key highlights from our second day of exploring the best of what CES has to offer, and why they’ll be important as we begin a new year.
- The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is taking over every part of our lives. Home appliances, health monitors, smart locks, security systems and even dog collars can now be connected seamlessly to your smartphone. Whether you need to unlock your door for the sitter while on vacation or turn on the heater as you drive home from work, CES has something for you. How do you manage the billions of sensors that are now slowly infiltrating your home? That’s where software comes in. Several companies announced platforms that should help developers and engineers come up with clever new use cases. The IoT may not yet be part of the consumer lexicon, but the concept is off to a good start.
- Smart televisions are getting even smarter. Televisions continue to be the center of attention at CES, but this year, companies are focused as much on the software running on their smart TVs as they are on 4K, 8K and curved-screen innovations. Several manufacturers are using open-source operating systems — originally designed for mobile use — to power their high-definition televisions. Going forward, we can expect the software on our televisions to look a lot like what we are already accustomed to seeing on phones.
- The connected car is becoming more affordable. CES has a way of exciting the inner child in all of us, but we’re usually driven back to reality after it’s over. Why? Many of the best gadgets are either still in concept phase or steeply priced. That’s beginning to change in the automotive sector, as even base-level autos are being outfitted with loads of new technology. This year, you’ll begin to see a litany of new aftermarket options that can be installed easily in existing vehicles, along with developer support to make daily commutes as customizable as possible.
- A virtual reality console may be your next gaming purchase. Virtual reality (VR) is taking advantage of technological advancements to stage a comeback. VR now has support from major capital firms across the globe, and they’re spending billions of dollars on creating new platforms for a wide demographic. There’s no shortage of new hardware in the works, ranging from dedicated systems to simple contraptions that users can plug smartphones into, but none of this would be possible without the underlying code. Gaming companies and developers are eagerly working on new ways to make virtual reality entertaining and functional, and within the next year we’re also going to see new methods of virtual interaction to assist in the workplace.
As we said yesterday, hardware is back — but it’s important to realize that software is largely driving that change. Great hardware can only be enabled through great software, and garnering developer support is no longer optional.
What’s more, expect to see billions of new devices connecting to the cloud in the coming year. It’s safe to assume that any innovation in the electronics space will need to ship with Internet connectivity as a baseline amenity. That’s triggering a sea-change in how consumers expect their lives to work, and it’s clear that companies showcasing their latest work at CES are fully aware of those shifting expectations.