20,000 products launched, 3,600 companies, and an exhibition hall spanning 2.2 million square feet – this was the setting of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. With exhibitions from global brands like Samsung and Intel to hundreds of startups, CES attracted over a hundred thousand attendees from across the globe, all lucky enough to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the tech world’s latest innovations that have set the stage for what we can expect to see over the next 12 months. Here’s a look at the top gadgets and trends from CES 2015.
Cars that can drive… for you.
Before the show floor doors even opened, the Mercedes-Benz keynote revealed the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car. With its sleek and futuristic aura, the design alone was enough to turn heads; that’s not the real hitch here, though. The F 015 was dubbed an autonomous car – essentially, able to drive itself rather than relying on a human driver – and was outfitted with touchscreen panels throughout that you can interact with via gesture and eye-tracking.
While the F 015 is still a ways off from hitting the road, today’s connected cars do enable control through smartphone connectivity and allow us to do things like play music, send messages and get directions by voice. Seen at CES, the QNX technology concept car took the shape of a Maserati Quattroporte GTS that demoed much of these features.
Forget the sand – you can 3D print your own candy castle.
3D printing emerged last year as one of the trends to watch, and this year it was in full form with everything from chairs and toys to candy castles on display. These creations would be considered normal, though, in comparison to the 3D printed exoskeletal spider dress that reacts to protect its wearers from others intruding its personal space. If you have a fear of spiders like I do, I hope you were able to take cover when it ventured outside of Intel’s booth.
While most of the printed creations at CES were more for fun than anything, there is an opportunity for 3D printing to better our lives in one way or another. For example, when his wife was misdiagnosed, Michael Balzer 3D printed a copy of her skull to show her tumor to doctors, ultimately saving her sight.
Mobile health will aid patient care.
Aside from all of the exhibitors, the Digital Health Summit at CES 2015 showcased prototypes, predictions of trends to watch for, and takeaways from industry influencers such as Dr. Phil McGraw, WebMD CEO David Schlanger, and White House Senior Advisor Claudia Williams. There continued to be a wide variety of personal monitoring devices, as well as some interesting new health-focused use cases for vendors not traditionally playing in the space. As my colleague Dr. Nick van Terheyden recently proposed, we’re beginning to realize the potential for our mobile devices – whether they be wearables, smartphones, or even a cuff that tracks calories – to become key partners in our personal health care. Technology can bridge the gap between patient and clinician, proactively providing status updates on an individual’s treatment regimen and nudging them in the right direction when they need to get back on track.
Wearables are the next big fashion accessory.
There were all sorts of wearable gadgets at CES this year – like a smart belt that expands when you’ve eaten too much, for example. The smart watch collection alone spanned over a football field in size with displays featuring fitness-enabled smart watches, smart watches that connect and control a BMW i3, and more. Looking back though, one theme stood out: manufacturers want wearable technology to be the next big fashion accessory. For example, a smart band from i.am+ and will.i.am, the i.amPULS has already received accolades for not only its usability but its unique design as it marries fashion and design with hi-tech (dubbed ‘fashionology’). Seasoned fashion name brands like Swarovski also captivated CES-goers with its new luxury line of Misfit Shine activity trackers, ‘Swarovski Shine.’ As smart watches and other wearables are making their way into the market at a rapid speed, it’s unique designs that will become a key factor of differentiation.
Drones – and lots of ‘em.
Like selfie sticks, drones were everywhere. The drones we saw at CES were overly more novelty than useful, though. Need a hand picking up that remote that’s just oh-so-inconveniently on the other side of the room? There’s a drone for that (yes, I’m serious). Now, moving on…
The Internet of Things is building a connected home.
I don’t have to tell you that the Internet of Things (IoT) is big, but this year it’s risen through the ranks of mass consumerism, most notably within the connected home. Samsung’s keynote set the tone for the entire show, declaring that every Samsung device manufactured would be IoT-ready within five years. It will soon be the norm for not just Samsung devices, but all devices, to be internet-connected. But what actions need to be taken for this to happen? Samsung’s BK Yoon calls for collaboration across industries, a robust developer community, and an open ecosystem in which devices can connect and communicate with one another.
Thermostats and home security systems are already boasting these IoT capabilities, but in the not-so-distant future these items will no longer be considered luxuries, they will be seamlessly integrated into our home environments, much like Nuance demoed at CES this year with connected ‘Things’ from wearables to smart homes and connected cars.
Voice is a natural – and increasingly common – way to interact with technology.
As my colleague Greg Payne wrote about in his ‘Top 5 tech predictions for CES 2015’ post, voice is the element that simplifies the user interface. Voice has the ability to transcend those complex menus that vary from device to device, while presenting us with a simple way to navigate and engage with technology. Already available today are the Ford SYNC 3 in-car infotainment system demoed at CES and Panasonic Smart Viera TVs that allow you to search for, find and switch on your favorite shows by voice. We’re not just talking to our devices, though – we’re talking to them at an increasingly growing rate. For example, Nuance Cloud Services handles over 1.2 billion transactions a month from connected smart devices like phones, tablets, TVs, cars, watches, thermostats, home security systems, and more.
TVs are bigger, brighter, and better.
Even with time spent on digital devices potentially outweighing time spent watching TV, we still like our TV time. It’s not hard to imagine then why brands like Sony, Samsung and LG keep bringing us something new to gawk at each year. 4K resolution and curved screen TVs were all the rage at last year’s CES – and while they still made quite an impressive (and visually-stunning) appearance this year – it was HDR (High Dynamic Range) that seemed to be the new buzzword. Shooting footage with HDR-compatible cameras results in a brighter, more vivid image – one that was clear to see when looking at screens with HDR and screens without, positioned next to one another on the show floor.
Even though the mile-long lines have dissipated, booths have been unassembled, and everyone’s Twitter feeds are no longer flooded with the #CES2015 hashtag, this year’s show clearly left its mark. From artificially intelligent robots and consumer health wearables to connected cars from a catalog of manufacturers, CES 2015 set the bar high for innovations to come.