10 CES Themes Likely to Resonate for Some Time

10 CES Themes Likely to Resonate for Some Time
Stronger Economy Fueling Innovation
Drones Becoming Their Own IT Segment
Laptops, Desktop PCs Aren't Going Anywhere
Connected and Automated Vehicles Only in Their Infancy
No Limits to Possibilities in Wearable IT
Smart Home Products Continue to Ramp Up
Video Display Quality Continues to Improve
Sling TV Makes Profound Change in Entertainment Market
3D Printing Makes a Case for Mainstream Use
IoT: The Market Has Only Just Begun
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10 CES Themes Likely to Resonate for Some Time

By Chris Preimesberger

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Stronger Economy Fueling Innovation

After the bottom dropped out of the world real estate and financial services markets six years ago, the road back has been steadily up and to the right. Since about 2009, venture capitalists, institutions and angel investors have been putting billions of dollars worth of trust—and hard cash—into the hands of entrepreneurs and technologists as they come up with new products and services that use the world's vastly improved bandwidth, software, hardware and networks to deliver services to the world's fast-growing population—mostly through mobile connected devices.

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Drones Becoming Their Own IT Segment

Something that really stood out at CES this year was the fact that so many new companies were showing various versions of drones that they warranted their own section of the convention center. These remote-control flying connected devices are mostly being used for photo and video purposes now, but other use cases—such as surveying, package delivery, law enforcement, weather data gathering, geographics and traffic information—are on the horizon. Oh, yes, and they come with their own issues, including safety and privacy concerns that still have to be worked out—perhaps by the courts.

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Laptops, Desktop PCs Aren't Going Anywhere

Companies such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba and others are seeing a resurgence in interest in laptop and desktop PCs, despite continuing strong sales of tablets and smartphones. Hundreds of new-gen portable PCs were introduced at CES. Taken tens of thousands of times over, and expanding the view beyond college to the workplace, it's easy to see why larger PC models are holding their own. There are simply some jobs, ranging from engineering to content creation, that need a larger form factor. While it's certainly possible to type a term paper or a book on a tablet or even a phone, the issue isn't about what's possible, it's about what's practical.

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Connected and Automated Vehicles Only in Their Infancy

Five years ago, Ford and its Microsoft Lync IT system were getting all the attention because they were among the first in the market to unveil a usable connected vehicle. Now, of course, Ford/Microsoft has been joined by several other car manufacturers—including Volkswagen, BMW, Lexus, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Google and others—with their own connected automotive packages. We've only just begun in this area.

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No Limits to Possibilities in Wearable IT

Biometrics certainly isn't new, but like all IT, it has continued to evolve over the years and now apparently has arrived as a feature that ostensibly will be included on most connected devices we'll be owning in the future. Most laptop and smartphone owners already are familiar with fingerprint sensors that allow only one user; however, the biometric software and devices being shown at CES go way beyond that simple use case. Most biometrics are being developed for security purposes, but other entrepreneurs are using their imaginations to find other new and interesting ways to measure bodily attributes, including skin temperature and voice and facial recognition.

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Smart Home Products Continue to Ramp Up

Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are already familiar names in the connected home space, but older-line companies, such as Cisco Systems—in partnership with Comcast and Bosch—are moving deeper into the cloud-based entertainment services market, too. This year, Cisco previewed an entire portfolio of cloud products and services that span video, mobility, collaboration, broadcasting and the connected home. It would be a safe bet that others, like HP, IBM and Dell, will be getting deeper into the home market in the future.

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Video Display Quality Continues to Improve

New 4K (considered 10 times sharper and more detailed than standard high-definition) screens—some of them curved, which adds to the user experience—from Samsung, HP and others are making video-watching an even more profound experience, and not just for entertainment (movies, video games and live events) purposes. Surgeons will be using this technology to perform more accurate procedures in the future; so will design artists and architects as they work on intricate projects.

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Sling TV Makes Profound Change in Entertainment Market

Conventional cable and satellite TV services now have a potentially formidable new competitor. Sling TV, an Englewood, Colo.-based subsidiary of Dish Network, will make live cable TV available in a subscription-based package for over-the-top (out of standard cable provider) viewing for $20 per month. The service is aimed at the large numbers of broadband users—mostly the younger (ages 18 to 35) viewers—who don't want to pay for a big cable package. Sling TV is hoping its small bundle of channels will appeal to users who don't want to pay $100 or more per month for hundreds of channels just to get the few shows they really want to watch.

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3D Printing Makes a Case for Mainstream Use

If 3D printing—which has been around in limited use for about 30 years—can produce food, that's a breakthrough that may push the sector into the mainstream. In what might have been the most far-out idea of CES 2015, XYZPrinting, the company which makes the Da Vinci 3D printers, announced a printer that uses food ingredients, such as chocolate or dough, to produce and decorate uncooked cookies or cakes. Users design decorations for their cookies or cakes, determine the size of their confections, pick an associated font, and the 3D printer takes care of the rest.

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IoT: The Market Has Only Just Begun

With vastly improved networking, storage capacity, automation software platforms and bandwidth, more and more of our personal devices will have addresses on the Internet in 2015 and beyond. This lets the user get more tasks done faster than in any previous time period. This burgeoning IoT market also provides tremendous opportunity for software and hardware companies to provide what users at home and at work will need: more sensor-driven devices and software to do more things automatically that we don't necessarily want to do manually anymore. The main question that is always lurking is this: How do we secure it all in order to keep the bad guys out?

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