As we gear up for the Consumer Electronics Show this week, we thought we’d hit you with our CES 2016 predictions. From VR to connected homes, we think there’s going to be no stone unturned when it comes to the biggest electronics show of the year. Let’s dive in!
2016 – The year for VR?
Following years of hype, 2016 looks to be the year that virtual reality becomes — well, reality.
I think a lot of companies will be showing off their latest and greatest VR technology in Las Vegas this month, including the likes of HTC, which will show a revamped Vive VR headset. The headset — created in conjunction with video games firm Valve — was supposed to have gone on sale by now.
However, the Taiwanese firm delayed the launch to add what it says is a “very big technological breakthrough.” Is it eye-tracking sensors, a way to get rid of its external wiring or something else? We’ll soon know.
Other companies such as Sony and Facebook owned Oculus may show new VR devices and services.
Drones – GoPro yay or nay?
One of the big questions over drones this year at CES is whether action camera maker GoPro will announce their own drone. GoPro promised to create its own drone called “Karma” but it’s unknown whether they will announce it in Las Vegas.
Even if GoPro holds fire, there are dozens of other firms set to show off flying tech, such as PowerUp FPV,Fleye and Uvify.
Chip-makers Intel and Qualcomm will try to explain why adopting their rival drone technologies could give manufacturers an edge.
The Federal Aviation Administration has a booth and will likely provide an update on its new register for US-based drone owners.
CES – The land of TV’s
New TV tech always makes a stir at CES, even if some of the innovations are not always practical. In recent years, Samsung and LG have slugged it out to boast the biggest sets, but this year it may be about having the bendiest.
As far as screens you might actually want to buy soon, expect the focus on be on “HDR.”
The acronym refers to high dynamic range, and basically means that TVs can show millions more shades of colour and a wider dynamic range — added shades of brightness in between black and white — letting more detail be shown.
Amazon actually started streaming some of its shows in HDR this year, but competing standards meant the TV-makers hadn’t put their marketing muscle behind the format.
That’s likely to change at CES when a coalition of the leading players reveal a new specification. It will let them badge TVs to show they will support future HDR-coded content.
That should prevent an embarrassing repeat of the fact that many of the early 4K sets ended up being incompatible with the way ultra high definition video is now streamed.
Netflix had previously said it was waiting until this moment to start supporting HDR — expect its chief executive Reed Hastings to reveal more at his keynote CES speech. And while it’s likely to be many years before the mainstream broadcasters adopt HDR, several of the movie studios have said they will offer it on 4K Blu-ray discs — the first players are also expected to be unveiled at CES.
Bots, bots and more bots!
The Consumer Technology Association (The guys who run CES) is talking up this category, noting there’s 71 percent more space dedicated to robots than in 2015.
Few think robots are ready to go mainstream just yet, but there’s still several companies worth keeping an eye on.
Despite smartwatches gaining ground in 2015, Fitbit and its fitness trackers remain wearable tech’s bestselling brand. The firm has an early-morning press conference on Tuesday, suggesting it has something major to reveal.
The firm’s activity-logging rival Misfit is also at CES. The business was recently taken over by the watch giant Fossil, and we may see the first fruits of their tie-up.
Chinese tech giant Huawei is tipped to unveil a smartwatch targeted at women and smaller start-ups are also expected to unveil female-friendly wrist-wear.
Of course, another theme will be wearables that don’t call attention to themselves, at least not until needed. For instance, the French firm Atol will be showing normal looking glasses that tell a smartphone app where they are when lost.
The Internet of Things and the Connected Home
For a couple of years now the concept of smart devices that we can control remotely from inside and outside our homes, talk to each other, and overall simply our life has been a hot topic. It seemed like every few months there was a spike of interest and activity; whether it was Microsoft announcing its commitment to the concept, Samsung swallowing up Smart Things, or Google snapping up Nest. But overall, the promise of an intelligent and interconnected home has gone largely unfulfilled.
Sure, we have bulbs that can change hues and refrigerators with screens on them, but most of the products are expensive, limited in function and don’t play nice with one another, mostly forcing you once again into an restrictive ecosystem. 2015 was supposed to be the year of the Smart Home but the most promising developments came in the forms of nerve centers like the Amazon Echo, Google’s Nest and OnHub, and the SmartThings Hub. These should provide the groundwork for further expansion into this market and I highly suspect that CES will have many products that plan to plug right into these cores. The biggest hurdles to overcome will be costs, interoperability and some common standards.
Streaming and Blogging Cameras
One thing that 2015 was definitely a year for was livestreaming all the things! When life-blogging failed to take off (thankfully), the need for 24/7 attention was replaced with livestreaming. Meekrat was the first to strike it big, just to have the party spoiled by Twitter’s launch of a sleeker competitor: Periscope. Most recently Facebook also launched its version of the same thing. Of course Youtube (and a few others) offered livestreaming before any of these services, but the new entrants are arguably simpler to set up and use, being more user-friendly overall.
Even though smartphones do a decent enough job of providing the cameras for these streams, a lot of people have expressed interest in better alternatives. Improved sensors, more stable cameras and mounts, better controls and of course, increased battery life are all at the top of the list while still maintaining portability. CES will very likely have a plethora of options for any would be real world reported, blogger and explorer.
Security at Home and at Work
And speaking of cameras and a connected smart home, security is likely to be a hot item at CES this year as well. With a number of large companies like Google and Samsung already in the space with connected cameras and sensors, expect new gadgets ranging from more smart cameras, various environment scanners and sensors, monitoring devices, and applications. There may also be more tie-ins with emergency services, such as easy 911 activation or long distance alerts about your business and personal items while you are away.
Considering our general unease with cameras and sensors in our homes, you can be sure that at least the residential solutions will have friendlier, even playful designs, like ULO.
Convertible/2in1 Laptops and Tablets
Laptops that flip backwards to become tablets, and screens that separate from their keyboards are nothing new. But this year I believe they will all but replace conventional laptops in popularity. With the success and excitement surrounding products like Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Book along with awesome options like the Lenovo Yoga 900, regular PCs and even some flashy tablets seem dull and less functional by comparison. There are compromises to be made as these devices do tend to fall into the “jack of all trades, master of none” category but the kinks are getting ironed out quickly and CES will surely showcase some interesting solutions and accessories for all-in-one computing solutions.
Another category that is hardly new but grows exponentially every year. Is there any company NOT making a fitness tracker of some kind these days? We have smartwatches, fitness-bands, dongles, bracelets, and earbuds… oh my. Where will the next fitness trackers go? This is a family-friendly site so I’ll leave that up to your imagination. In addition to the trackers themselves, companies have launched health-data collection initiatives. Apple, Google, Fitit, Garmin, Samsung and countless others have made it clear that they are taking the busines of mental and physical well-being very seriously.
Expect the aforementioned growth to continue in 2016 starting with CES where a ton of new devices, bands, sensors, and applications will be looking to break out or partner up with one of the giants already in this space. Keep an eye also on the more “fashionable” solutions as the space between trackers and daily accessories narrows.
3D printing hasn’t really hit mainstream yet due the fact of being overly priced and take way too long to actually finish what was being printed. Even 3D pens are a thing now too that do the exact same thing as a 3D printer, but they are used in sort of a different way than a 3D printer. The cost on those pens are much less too. No doubt the concept behind it is awesome, but 2016 could be the year 3D printers to spike in the market. Architects, hospitals, car manufacturers, etc. would end up benefiting from these (if not owned already) as they would be able to make their designs on a computer and then print them off to see a physical version of their creation.
I sort of have a thing for Bluetooth speakers if you recall any of my reviews on them. I enjoy everything about them from the design, to the sound, to colors, and more. Over the years companies who offer BT speakers have a tendency to one up the competition by coming out with something new depending on what hasn’t been used yet, but in reality they’re all the same at the end of the day. I’m expecting companies such as JBL, UE (Ultimate Ears), Beats, EasyAcc, and others to bring something awesome to the table at CES this year.
It doesn’t have to be mind blowing, at least not to me, but I believe one of the aforementioned companies will flaunt the latest and greatest speaker that could make other think “hey, that’s a really cool feature.” Creating more BT speakers to be water and dust resistant is a really good selling point though that will only get you so far.
With CES underway, it’ll be interesting to see what the show has in store for us. As always, keep it locked here for all your CES 2016 news.