The Consumer Electronics Show is a veritable garden of digital delights, an ocean of innovation. This year’s show was as vibrant and interesting as ever, flaunting the most forward-thinking, pioneering ideas and technologies from around the world.
The show proved, beyond doubt, that consumer electronics have moved far beyond smart phones, tablets, and devices. Emerging and established technology, automotive, building products, healthcare, and fitness companies converged to showcase their solutions for the Internet of Things, connected devices, cloud computing, and mobile technology, launching a new era of high speed connectivity and access to information and services.
There were some pleasantly surprising highlights at CES this year that strayed beyond the usual TVs, tablets, and gadgets. These included advancements in:
• Connected home technology, which utilizes wireless connectivity and the Internet of Things to enable devices, appliances, products and systems within a home to talk to one another. Using this smart technology, people can now remotely control their homes in ways that enhances convenience, increases security, optimizes resource efficiency, and decreases costs. Today, connected home technology allows homeowners to do things like close garage doors and turn off lights. In the future, this technology will become autonomous and intelligent, so that windows can talk with HVAC systems to change a home’s climate based on outdoor temperature; lighting systems can scan a homeowner’s mood and change the color or quality of light to create a desired atmosphere; clocks can check traffic patterns and automatically adjust the time of a wake-up alarm; and smart closets can recommend outfits based on the weather forecast or a homeowner’s schedule.
• Automotive technology, including driverless vehicles powered by a sophisticated series of cameras and sensors (showcased in an Autonomous Driving experience presented by Bosch), electric vehicles (including Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a sun-powered vehicle with the potential to deliver plug-in hybrid capabilities without depending on the electric grid for fuel), and connected vehicle technology (which has evolved over the past few years from infotainment and navigation systems to driver-assistance systems and telematics arrays that enable a vehicle to communicate with a home, turning on lights, heating, and mood settings in advance of the driver’s arrival.)
• 3D printing, sometimes called additive printing, is rapidly penetrating the consumer market (Wohlers Associates forecasts that the global sales for 3D printers will reach $3.7 billion worldwide b y 2015.) The medical, automotive, aerospace, and industrial industries are currently using 3D printing to develop a wide range of customized products and solutions, and with a perfect storm of technology development, increasing demand, and decreasing costs, consumers and small businesses are now able to cost-effectively access this innovative technology.
• Robotics, expected to become a trillion dollar market, robotics technology (powered by microelectricalmechanical sensors called MEMS that measure and process data) has tremendous potential to make our lives easier, safer, and more convenient. While robots face criticism relative to social perception, legal implications, and technological development, they will undoubtedly impact our homes, offices, hospitals, and factories, assisting in a wide range of activities like daily chores, security management, manufacturing, healthcare monitoring, and even entertainment and companionship.
• Healthcare, including a range of remote monitoring devices, wearable sensors, and diagnostic applications that enable individuals to take control of their health and wellness in a completely new way. Wearable devices, such as health trackers and fitness wristbands—expected to become a $170 million market by 2017—allow people to monitor activity levels so that they can make better decisions about exercise and diet.
I’m encouraged by the extent of innovation that I saw at CES this year. It’s an exciting moment in time, with tremendous business opportunity for those who are willing to shirk the yoke of status quo and dream themselves into the future.What technological advancements are you excited about?