I am just back from attending the 2013 Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas where I was meeting with customers and visiting the massive show floor. CES is an intriguing blend of extremes and contrasts: biggest and the smallest; connected and unconnected; wired and wireless; high tech – low tech. As personal and business technologies converge through the “consumerization of technology,” CES provides an exciting window into the current and future world of technology.
The following are my personal observations and extrapolations from the show based on my conversations with customers, colleagues and walking the floor.
- New Next Generation TV Again – You could be mistaken for thinking that CES is really the TV show. Televisions are everywhere and every company seems to produce one. Manufacturers are still selling 3D television, but it has taken a back seat to the next big thing -- bigger and thinner new OLED sets and specular ultra-high definition screens.
- Connected Home – CE companies continue to try to connect all of our home devices. But now appliances are getting in on the act. There were lots of examples of connected refrigerators and washing machines. Now you can even control how your clothes are washed from the comfort of your couch with your smartphone or even on your TV.
- Content Sharing and Mirroring – At last, we seem to be making some inroads into sharing content across devices. Samsung, and others have developed much simpler ways to “mirror” content from a smartphone on to a TV, or getting photos from a digital camera to a smartphone, TV and computer.
- We Love Apps – It now seems that ever device worth its salt comes has pre-configured and integrated popular applications. You can now listen to Pandora through your fridge, update your Facebook on the washing machine, and of course, watch Netflix on your TV.
- Home Energy and Security Management – Finally one can readily, and reasonably inexpensively, remotely control your home heating, open and close doors and monitor security cameras from your smartphone without engaging an engineering firm. Not only are manufactures promoting the cool and connected factor but they are selling cost savings.
- Mobile and Wireless – Of course everything is mobile or wireless, either connected to mobile or Wi-Fi networks.
- Health and Fitness – There are now some very interested, usable and well-designed devices to track and promote fitness (e.g., heart rate, running/cycling route), in addition to specific devices to monitor and improve our overall health (e.g., blood sugar and pressure)
- Connected Car – At times I thought that I was at the auto show. The car has become the new “connected home.” Many of the car companies (e.g., Ford, Audi, and Chrysler) had booths, with lots of sleek and cool cars, showing off all of the great electronics in their vehicles and demonstrating how you are no longer off-line when you are behind the wheel.
- Personal Data – Whether you are monitoring your heart beat, the temperature in your home, or the contents of your refrigerator, all of these new devices seem to be generating and storing huge amounts of personal data that can be analyzed to your heart’s content.
- Digital Photography – All of the big camera manufacturers (e.g., Canon, Nikon) were out in force trying to demonstrate why real photographers use real cameras rather than rely on smartphones. They were showcasing smart lenses, Wi-Fi connected cameras and new and easier to use devices. Polaroid, the onetime leader in photographic innovation, was even demonstrating an updated digital version of its iconic instant print camera.
- Audio Renaissance – It finally seems to be recognized that to truly enjoy music you might need a better listening device more than ubiquitous ear buds. There were lots of updated versions of 70s and 80s style big speakers with massive woofers. And, every major electronics company was showcasing an impressive portfolio of high quality headphones.
- Where’s My Computer? – Outside of the registration area, I didn’t see a traditional PC anywhere. No desktops, servers, or storage units. While they still exist, everyone wants to really show off their smartphones, tablets, new hybrid tablets or the occasional “sexy” laptop.