In any given year, the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is mostly off-the-charts congestion of unprecedented proportions, employing every cab in sight and bringing in 100,000 to 120,000 out-of-towners to the two major pavilions at the Convention Center and other locations.
However, with the almost infinite market potential involving the so-called Internet of things, a steadily improving global IT economy, and no shortage of new devices and startups to introduce, CES this year is packing a record 150,000 visitors into cabs, hotels and meeting spaces.
Most attendees flew in Jan. 4 and 5; following two days of press previews, CES opens Jan. 6 and continues through Jan. 9.
There’s no question about a high-level theme: 2015 is all about connecting a plethora of new devices to the Internet of things (IoT). To be more specific, the emphasis is on connecting consumers of all ages and locales to the IoT via wearables, transportation (and not just cars), home utility and entertainment systems, and handheld devices.
Great Imagination Inherent in New Devices
There is great interest in imaginative new devices that include such things as personal camera-holding drones, a connected water heater, an iPad cover that turns handwriting into a digital document and the Tao Chair—which looks like a normal lounging chair but actually is a mini-gym that massages, improves posture, burns calories and strengthens muscles while recording a user’s health data in cloud storage.
We’ll be following up with reports on a long list of interesting new devices when the event begins Jan. 6.
On the more conventional IT product side:
— Toshiba, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Samsung, Asus and Lenovo, capitalizing on the fact that tablets and smartphones can’t do everything and that laptops are making a major comeback, are in an intense battle for market share by adding features, lowering weights and prices, and increasing battery life in a flotilla of new personal computers that can put mere 6-month-old laptops to shame.
— Seagate has unveiled a complete rebranding campaign and an ultra-thin 500GB storage device that costs a mere $100 and is thin enough to slip into a shirt pocket.
— Cisco Systems, in partnership with Comcast and Bosch, is moving deeper into the cloud-based entertainment services market, previewing an entire portfolio of cloud products and services that span video, mobility, collaboration, broadcasting and the connected home.
— Samsung and HP have invested a lot of capital in new curved monitors for televisions and desktop computers that lay the foundation for increased higher-definition and 3D viewing in the future. Having tested the HP 3D system on a curved monitor earlier this fall, eWEEK can attest that a curved screen makes a notable difference in viewing quality, especially when working on an interactive project.
CES 2015: Connecting Devices to IoT Is What It’s All About
Wearables Are No. 1 Curiosity
Perhaps more than any other individual category, wearable computing devices are attracting the most attention from media types, simply because there are so many never-before-available devices being previewed. Not all will become market hits, certainly, but it’s the ideas that count.
We’re talking about 4K flying drone cameras and a handheld stabilization system to make them usable; connected watches, rings and a belt that work hand-in-hand with smartphones; and 3D printers for just about anything somebody might want to make at home.
Still, all these connected devices need dependable Internet services, capable networking, multifactor security systems and reliable storage behind them. Nothing here at CES works in a vacuum—unless it is a robot vacuum (iRobot’s Roomba) that will clean your floor on demand.
“We’re living through a period of creative destruction in the smart, connected devices space,” IDG Devices Analyst J.P. Gownder said. “But some of these devices will reach a more mature stage, integrating into how people live their lives, how workers do their jobs and how companies interact with their customers.
“But wearables aren’t just about devices; they’re about cloud-based services that take data from wearables and return insights to them as well. We’ll see a broader focus on services, particularly from companies like Samsung, Microsoft and Google. We’ll see more evidence that services link together customers and value-added services in areas like health, fitness, tracking children and pets, and workforce enablement.”
New-Gen Transportation Getting High Attention
Connected vehicles and the IT that goes into them are off the charts at this CES. Whereas five years ago it was exclusively about Ford and its Microsoft Lync system, it’s now all about dozens of car manufacturers cramming multiple computers and subsequent features into new vehicles for this year, 2016 and beyond.
“Mercedes and Ford are likely to unveil news about new connected car products and services. If they follow past practice of talking only about features for new cars, they’ll be repeating the industry mistake of over-investing in new car tech and under-investing in using mobile apps and services to build brand relationships with existing customers,” IDG Chief Analyst Frank Gillett said.
“What I’ll be watching for are signs of the auto industry embracing the mobile mind shift, such as Ford did by adding specific features and support to Automatic’s product that improves the experience with cars already on the road, rather than only brand new cars.”
As is typical for CES, Apple is hard to find this week. The Cupertino, Calif., world leader, which launched its new iPhones, iPads and Apple Pay system last September, prefers to walk its own event path.
eWEEK this week will publish a series of articles examining news and talking to experts in the various device categories at CES. Stay tuned.