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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 was the largest yet with over 2 million net square feet of exhibit space. Getting around to see everything was nearly impossible. Each year, however, CES does a good job of trying to group similar products in one area. This year, I saw products that were once scattered throughout the showroom floor together in their own category grouping. 3D printing, which was once a rarity at CES, is now big business with more vendors and more incredible examples of work than I’ve ever seen.
Narrowing it down to the top 5 tech product trends of CES is hard every year, and this year is no exception. One of the biggest introductions this year, that garners a lot of attention, is the TV. This year, the 4K Curved TV brought awe and amazement as people gathered around these massive displays of curved sets at the booths of Samsung, LG, Panasonic, and more. You can see a picture of these unique TV’s in our previous article, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Pictures. Regardless of all the press and chatter, we did not put curved TV’s on our list of top product trends. The adoption of a curved screen in today’s households seems very slow in our book.
But here’s what’s hot…product trends of CES that are sure to outlive the hype…
1. 3D Printing
3D Printing - It is absolutely amazing what 3D printers can “print” out in plastic. The 3D details are incredible and it’s so much fun to see what can be designed on a computer screen “come to life,” off a printer. 3D printing is not new. Companies have been using it for long time. A couple of years ago I visited the Sony HQ’s for PlayStation and saw how they used 3D printers to make items and faces as a model for their games. Last Summer at Ford, we watched as they used very large 3D printers to make automobile parts like engine cylinders, car interior pieces, even an entire car (in parts) to see how it would look before going into production.
Now, 3D printer companies are vying to get into the home. Designing a 3D object is rather complex at the moment. However, companies are offering pre-made designs that consumers can buy from an “app” type 3D printing store where they download a design, insert it into the 3D printer software, and hit “print.” They are targeting families first with pre-made designs featuring toys and useful household items. Just think, instead of buying toys for your kids, they can make their own! Fascinating stuff. See CNN’s interesting article covering 3D Printing from CES.
These 3D printing items are painted. 3D printers print in one color and you can paint the rest.
2. Connected Things
Connected Things – Sensors are being put in anything to give inanimate objects the power to communicate through Bluetooth, WiFI, NFC, etc. Small devices now have a voice, as chips/sensors have reduced in size and in price. Visiting the BOSCH booth, I got to see first hand just at how small and light these sensors are.
See how small the smallest of sensors are? Incredible!
Granted, connected ovens, refrigerators, and washer and dryers are handy, but how about devices to let you know when your plants need more water?
Or a bracelet to inform you you’re getting too much sun?
Want to know if your daughter really did brush her teeth? Expect to see many more “dumb” inanimate objects come to life through connection with your smartphone.
Further still, devices won’t even need you anymore to respond to a situation. Take for instance this water meter from Nexia. Should the sensor detect flooding in a room, it will automatically shut off the water. Amazing, huh?
3. Video Everywhere
Video Everywhere - over the past 5 years, video cameras in the home have been cheaper. Watching when the delivery man arrives and ensuring your package is safe through the day, making sure your kids get home safe from school, and general home security has never been easier…observing all from your smartphone. But over the years, we have seen the trend of extreme sports video. Video cameras attached to the helmet of a skateboarder, surfer, skier, etc., have provided a glimpse of what it might be like to perform those amazing stints. There certainly were sport centric video gear aplenty at CES, but other types of cameras are beginning to appear. For example, now you can follow every step and gain a better understanding of your dog’s point of view through the world’s first dog camera by Dogtech. Another useful way to use video is in robots. Robots received their own category at CES this year. Robots use video for surveillance around the home/store as well as video you!
You can even put your video camera on wheels to get a RC car’s perspective…or your son can snoop on his sister!
4. Girl Power
Girl Power – We have seen all sorts of phone cases on the market geared towards women, but let’s face it. Gadgets are typically black or white. Sometimes you’ll get some color thrown in there but that’s it. But things are changing. Companies are taking notice of women as more and more women are purchasing electronics in addition to their phones. We mentioned in our article, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Pictures, that AR, Acoustic Research, has formed a new brand called AR for Her. They have some great colors in their speakers and mobile accessories. They even have a speaker that looks like a woman’s purse for style and easy holding. Velodyne also offers an array of fashionable skins to make your headphones a fashion statement.
This woman’s “purse” is actually a speaker! Same with the polk-a-dot pink purse behind her!
Speakers, cellphone charger Zipstick’s, and cabling to accentuate a woman’s style.
5. Connected Home
Connected Home - The Connected Home is once again on our top product trends lists, now 3 years in a row. Every year, this segment grows larger and larger as consumers better understand what’s possible using their smartphone and envisioning the ease of lights, thermostats, locks, and more managing automation themselves. There were thermostats aplenty at CES, making it easier than ever to have a series of events happen in a home. Can you see yourself nearing your home when a GPS range map indicator talks to your home to open your garage door, turn up your thermostat, turn on the lights, and crank up the tunes? All this is possible now. And for home automation enthusiasts, you can buy kits from Nexia and other vendors to begin small and build up wherever your creativity takes you. You no longer need a custom installer to begin the simplest of automation in your home.
See our reported trends from previous CES years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. Most of these product trends of CES are still going strong…with the exception of 3D TV’s reported in 2012. 3D TV was a fad that just didn’t make it. Even ESPN stopped their 3D specialty channel, realizing there wasn’t as much interest as originally projected.
Be sure to see our other CES articles, The Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Pictures and CES 2014: 5 Great Gadgets for Moms.