A long time ago CES was mainly about TVs and TV-related products. Not anymore.
Over the past decade the show has transformed from being one focused on traditional consumer electronics to being the largest tech show in the U.S., setting each year’s technology agenda in many categories. CES 2014 was no different, giving us a pulse on the defining trends in technology and showing us the 2014 road maps for some of the biggest companies in the world.
Below are some key themes highlighted at this year’s CES.
Wearables was perhaps the hottest overall category, with hundreds of new devices on display. The smartwatch sector had its own pavilion. Meanwhile close to 10 companies showed some kind of smart glass variant, and many fitness-tracking and health-related wearables were on display. And, of course, after CES, Google announced its smart contacts offering, which could mean a hot new category for the coming year.
The internet of things and the smart home were the most pervasive themes of the show: Everything is now connected, from basic white goods to wearables to cars and just about everything else in our lives. Ingredient technology providers like Qualcomm, Intel, and Broadcom showed up with big plans for IoT, while hundreds of companies had products that played into the broader IoT theme. The smart home was the most visible segment of IoT, as everything from basic point solutions like connected light bulbs to service provider smart home platforms and retail offerings like Staples Connect were on display. Google’s announcement of its Nest acquisition happened just two days after the show’s conclusion, which only put an exclamation point on the event.
3D printing’s booth space and buzz increased almost tenfold this year. For consumers, 3D printing is still a few years off because the big players in this space don’t yet offer affordable-enough products (3D Systems debuted its first $1,000 3D printer at the show). Low-cost players offering variants of RepRap-based printers probably don’t have the scale or support to grow the market. All that said, it looks like the tech world has embraced 3D printing as an exciting new category.
Robotics has been a staple at CES for some time. Interesting takes on play-centric robots were plentiful at the show. Meanwhile the high profile of drones was perhaps best illustrated by the CEO of Parrot (one of the biggest makers of drones), Henri Seydoux, occupying the cover of i3, the glossy magazine published by CES-producer CEA.
4K and the smart TV are proof that the TV industry’s future is staked on screens becoming more connected and smarter with higher fidelity. 4K has come a long way from last year, if the products announced indicate anything. And smart TV product platform shakeups were plentiful, with LG showing off webOS and Roku and Mozilla also debuting new platform initiatives.
Connected cars were bigger than ever at this year’s CES. Audi and GM announced 4G-fueled car models. Google announced a new alliance to push Android and self-driving cars.