Trends Emerging from CES 2016

A view from CES 2016.
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CES is officially in full-swing. What’s CES? It’s pretty likely that if you’re reading this article, you already know, but just in case… CES is the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place right on the Vegas strip. It’s a massive event that attracts the biggest tech companies from across the globe to show off their latest hardware, gadgets and innovations. While there are some companies that save their biggest tech announcements for their own events or industry-specific conferences, CES is more-or-less the spot to find out about tech trends for the coming year and what might be the next must-have gadget.

With CES officially starting today (though the AT&T Developer Summit was earlier this week), we’re going to take a look at a few trends that seem to be emerging as strong players for shaping the technology and electronics industry for 2016.

The IoT

I know — you’re not surprised to see this one right smack at the top of the list. But yes — don’t expect to hear any less about the Internet of Things/Internet of Everything in 2016. The fact is, you’ll probably hear even more about the IoT in 2016 than in 2015 (is that even possible?) and you can expect to hear the words “connected device” approximately 1.8 million times in the next 12 months. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

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The TP-LINK SR20. Bringing a connected home to you in 2016. (Image courtesy of TP-LINK)

But before your snark-o-meter reaches max capacity towards the nebulous cloud (pun intended) that is the IoT, there are actually a lot of really cool things happening in this growing field. For example, TP-LINK is releasing the new SR20 Smart Home router, a network hub designed for the connected home. It can push notification to your mobile device, alert you of safety issues, and make creating a “connected home” even easier. It also has support for Zigbee and Z-wave standards (plus a nifty touchscreen).

Virtual Reality

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This look of amazement, coming to your face in 2016. (Image courtesy of Oculus)

I’m fairly certain virtual reality has been on the “Most Wanted List” for just about every tech lover since Douglas Quaid took his first trip in “Total Recall.” For me, it was the disappointing Nintendo Virtual Boy, which came out in the mid-90s, that made me crave some sort of realistic virtual environment — and this might just be the year we get it. Oculus Rift is getting a lot of attention, but other platform’s like HTC’s Vive are also making waves. Indeed, 2016 looks like the year of virtual reality — and not just for gaming (though, c’mon, we’re all going to use it for gaming), but also for learning, training and exploring virtual environments. The possibilities are endless. Even NFL teams are using virtual reality to help train their athletes. We live in the future.

Drones

I sort of dislike the word “drone” because it gives lots of people icky feelings about airstrikes, but in reality, drones have just become the namesake for an entire segment of robotics (both autonomous and human controlled aerial vehicles). If CES is any indication, the already booming business of drones and multi-rotor aircrafts is set to really (ahem) take-off. In fact, there was an entire special event before CES (the Drone Rodeo) set up just to display some of the advancements in this technology. 

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Piloting the Bebop 2 from your tablet. Seems easy enough. (Image courtesy of Parrot)

One of the coolest pieces of drone tech isn't a drone at all. The Avegant Gylph is a personal HD headset that can be used with a drone to create a POV experience that's like you’re actually piloting the quadcopter from inside. The Parrot Bebop 2 is promoted as one of the easiest to fly quadcopters ever made (which, if you’ve ever tried flying one, is actually really awesome). 

Wearables

Will 2016 be the year wearable technology goes from “want to have” gadgets to “must have” devices? CES is indicating that companies are doubling-down on wearable tech in 2016. Fitbit announced their first smartwatch, the Fitbit Blaze and Misfit released their Ray fitness and sleep tracker. Tired of fitness devices owning the wearables market? How about the real-time translation necklace called iLi? This product from Japanese startup Logbar is a pendant you wear around your neck that allows you to speak into it in your native tongue, and it spits out what you said in a different language. We’ll see how well it works in production, but it appears to be pretty amazing tech.

These are just a few trends that were big in 2015, but expect them to be even bigger in 2016. There’s also some amazing trends coming out of CES in the automotive world (more on that to come), but expect to see IoT, VR, Drones and Wearables dominate tech headlines for the next few months. We've got boots on the ground at CES, so look for some more updates over the coming days. 



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