A Peek at the Future of Tech from the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas – It Predicts the Next Five Years of Tech

If you think Caesars Palace and The Venetian Hotel are glitzy and audacious, you should check out the Samsung, Sony and LG booths at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

After spending a few days at the conference talking with customers, watching presentations and walking miles across the trade show floors, I saw nine trends emerging:

Trend #9
Virtual Reality (VR) is getting, better, cheaper and more widely available but it is too early tell whether it can drive a real shift in consumer media consumption. That being said, Augmented Reality (AR) made its debut at CES this year with some impressive B2B applications like helping an electrician see the underlying wiring insider an electrical panel.
Trend #8
Drones were everywhere but the emphasis has not yet shifted towards the “killer app” of autonomous and multi-drone coordinated flight. Keep an eye out for this game changer at CES 2017.
Trend #7
Wearables are evolving from fitness gadgets into healthcare and athletic power tools. Sensors have expanded beyond heart rate to include things like ECGs and blood pressure. One particularly novel idea used simple smart phone cameras pointed at old style analog medical equipment to visually process their displays into digital data streams.
Trend #6

Cars are evolving beyond pure transportation to a new platform customer experience but the real world changing breakthrough, autonomous driving, wasn’t center stage at CES.

Trend #5

Home Automation is still struggling to find its sweet spot – fragmented standards and undifferentiated hardware continues to keep it stuck in the hobbyist market. Specifically, mesh Bluetooth and low power Wifi will likely disrupt the progress of the Zigbee and Z-wave standards in the coming years.

Trend #4

Services, platforms and ecosystems stole the spotlight from the gadgets themselves – convenient integration into consumers’ digital life is already making a bigger impact than fancy hardware.

Trend #3

OLED and 4K TVs look great, especially in booths that span acres, but the only truly new TV tech at CES was a small selection of recently announced 4K resolution blu-rays.

Trend #2

If long lines and countless booths are an indicator, the massage chair marketplace is one of the hottest trends in consumer electronics <grin>.

Trend #1

The Internet of Things (IoT) was by far the most common buzzword at CES but the real story is that IoT sits at the convergence of traditional consumer products and the B2B world of safety, measurement and productivity. This trend was punctuated in the keynote speech by IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty.

Bottom Line

The innovation around consumer targeted gadgets like TVs and cameras and, even VR and drones, seemed incremental at best. The next wave of innovation seems to be coming from integrated systems and platforms, including, for the first time, solutions that can serve business buyers, not just consumers.

In a few years, they might have to rename this even the Consumer and Business Electronics Show <grin>.


Read on if you’re interested in some pictures from the show…


Drones came in all shapes and sizes.


IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty demonstrating Softbank’s Pepper robot powered by Watson

Virtual reality is evolving into new areas and new applications.


While the TV technology may not be all that revolutionary, LG and Samsung were able to create breathtaking displays that took flat panel TV experiences to entirely new levels. Photographs cannot capture this so I’ve inserted some videos…


Fitness gadgets are evolving into integrated health management systems


Some of the products at CES were not quite as ground breaking as others…

… like a window cleaning robot…

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