CES is one of the world’s largest trade shows and is the forum for many tech companies and startups to unveil their plans for the year. Its influence has waned over the years, given that many leading companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft hold their own events. But the CES show still draws a lot of attention.
The event starts Tuesday with two days of company announcements on new products and services. The show floor itself opens on Thursday.
Top trends expected to emerge at CES this year include an explosion of voice-controlled interfaces, subtle integration of artificial intelligence into everyday life and increasing digitisation in areas like health and wellness.
The 50th annual CES this week in Las Vegas is expected to draw 165,000 attendees. In the past, it has been a showcase for stunning new gadgets, but in recent years it has evolved into an event where more incremental steps forward are revealed.
Gadgets expected include TVs with new capabilities and better picture quality, as well as all sorts of household products with Internet connections, including refrigerators, doors and security cameras.
Shawn Dubravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association, said in a panel Tuesday that voice control will be far more prevalent this year than it has been in the past. Voice-activated systems are expected to double to 10 million in 2017, he said.
Meanwhile, artificial intelligence is finding its way into more products, such as a refrigerator that can self-adjust its temperature for optimal humidity.
“The broader theme is how we’re increasingly allowing these small things to be automated,” he said. “It started with changing the temperature in the room, and now it’s changing the temperature in your refrigerator.”
Elsewhere, look for a surplus of new drones, personal robots and connected and self-driving cars on display, as well new wearable devices that give insight into specific health and wellness categories like preventing concussions or measuring vitamin D deficiency.
Neither the holiday season nor New Year’s fitness resolutions seem to be helping wearable gadgets break into the mainstream.
Research firm eMarketer has lowered its outlook for smartwatches and fitness trackers such as the Apple Watch and Fitbits. It’s not that the craze has died down – it’s more like there never was one to begin with.
The research comes as gadget makers large and small prepare to unveil new wearable devices at the CES tech show in Las Vegas this week.
In October 2015, eMarketer expected wearable gadget to grow more than 60 percent among US adults in 2016. That’s now down to less than 25 percent. While fitness trackers are relatively cheap and straightforward to use, eMarketer says smartwatches haven’t caught on because they are expensive and lack a well-defined purpose.
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But multinational corporations – no, really – could save the day. Gartner predicts that by 2019, nearly all big employers will encourage the use of fitness trackers to “improve corporate performance.” Big Brother, apparently, won’t just be watching, but tracking your steps.
Technology may soon change the way you shop in brick-and-mortar stores, not just online.
Last month, Amazon unveiled a test store that lets shoppers fill their bags and walk out without seeing a cashier or scanning any items.
Many other stores have been experimenting with digital enhancements aimed at luring shoppers back from online sites. Many of these technologies will be unveiled or demonstrated at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, which begins Tuesday with media previews.
Robots, for instance, could help guide shoppers to the right aisle, while augmented reality apps could help you see how a particular shade of paint will look in the living room – or how you might look in a pair of jeans.
But plenty of retailers have learned through trial – and error – that technology can’t get too far ahead of shoppers. It has to be easy to use and beneficial to shoppers in some way.