If you’re like most of us, you undoubtedly enjoy the advances of modern technology. Phones are constantly getting smarter, cars are beginning to drive themselves, and virtual reality is becoming, well, reality. But what is the next big thing?
Look no further than the Consumer Electronics Show, otherwise known as CES, which takes place each January in Las Vegas. This conference is where all the biggest names in the world’s tech and electronics industries come to preview their newest innovations and inventions. But it also provides a perfect look at where the major tech markets appear to be headed.
Which is why we took the liberty in assembling 8 key things to takeaway from this year’s CES:
It’s safe to say Amazon quite simply dominated the markets with the explosion of Alexa in 2016. This year, among the many Alexa-powered devices featured at CES was a $799 humanoid robot called Lynx, that can handle voice commands normally given to Amazon’s Echo devices, while also supporting remote monitoring and personalizing its responses with the help of face detection. It’s a bit early to tell, but it seems that we could be headed toward robots that run a voice assistant platform that supports thousands of third party cloud services and smart home devices, while also keeping an eye on one’s home and entertaining the kids.
There weren’t nearly as many amazing innovations this year as there were in 2016, but there were definitely a couple of items that could be seen as useful around the house. One of these was a smart desk lamp from Japan’s Cerevo, that responds to voice commands and adjusts its lighting based on brightness presets. There was also a smart hairbrush from Nokia that uses built-in sensors and Wi-Fi to analyze brushing activity, and gives users feedback on their activity and hair quality. In addition, Intel announced the release of the Compute Card, which contains an Intel processor, DRAM, connectivity chips, and flash storage, and is a reference design for a module meant for relatively powerful IoT devices.
Thin-and-light laptops seemed to be the hot item in the PC market. LG, Dell, HP, and others showed off new models with faster hard drives, longer battery lives, flatter screens, and in some cases the ability to fold and double as tablets. Gaming is still a major focus in the PC market, and Samsung, among others, is launching new powerful systems designed to target gamers.
There wasn’t a whole lot of excitement in the way of TV advancement, but Samsung did roll out its new quantum dot (QLED) LCD sets, which provides superior colors compared to traditional LCDs and performs better at higher brightness levels, while LG featured its “Nano Cell” technology, which aims to provide similar color improvements. It also seems as though there is an emerging rivalry between OLED and high-end LCD sets.
At last year’s CES, the VR headset and accessory launches stole the show. However, this year the hype was more subdued, with the focus more on providing CES attendees with the kinds of experiences virtual reality can provide. This allowed consumers an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the technology. However, it may be a few years before graphic cards advance enough to support the high resolutions VR headsets need in order to provide imagery as clear and advanced as what one can get from most computers or smartphones.
Believe it or not, major Chinese phone makers may be about to enter the highly competitive U.S. smartphone market. While companies such as Apple and Samsung currently dominate the market, competitors in China such as ZTE, have announced plans to release two phones in the U.S. market: the Blade V8 Pro, and the Hawkeye. And sources around the industry indicate they could very well compete.
Fitness tracker leader Fitbit seemed to take the chance to use this year’s CES as a platform to emphasize its efforts in making their existing software more effective. The company released updates to two of its apps that enhance their community and workout recommendation features, respectively, as well as announced their plans to launch a wearables app store.
The growth of desktop 3D printing startups has brought the arrival of a few big names into the market, including both HP and GE. However, one of the more high profile upstarts in 3D printing, Formlabs, set up shop with a popular booth at CES where it featured parts made with its printers that had an impressive level of detail. Also featured was Aleph Objects’ Lulzbot unit, and Airwolf 3D, which claims the likes of Apple and Disney as customers. With the price of 3D printers having dropped from close to $20,000 to the cheapest models costing $400 in less than 10 years, it's probably safe to say that 3D printers could soon become a household item.