Ten observations from CES 2015
I was at CES 2015 last week. Here are some reflections, in no particular order:
1. The Internet of Things was Everywhere.
From the opening CES keynote to every 20 feet on the show floor, IoT was everywhere. But while there may be “infinite possibilities of IoT,” the question everyone will start asking in 2015 is, “but why?”
If IoT ecosystems become truly pervasive, analysts will become the most in-demand professionals out there.
2. Wearables, but why?
I was speaking to a 20-something professional about new products and he said, “Watches? I don’t get it. My generation is the one that stopped wearing them; we use our phones to tell the time. So why do all these companies think that everyone is suddenly going to buy smartwatches?”
The variety of wearables businesses plays out like a Mad Lib. I saw wearables for fitness. The elderly. Kids. Babies. Dogs. Cats. You name it and if it moves, then there’s a business that wants to put a sensor on it to collect data.
3. Surf like nobody’s watching.
But when you’re demoing VR on the CES floor, everyone is. Except at the Oculus booth, which had the longest lines that I saw at the show.
4. Give me a break.
Walking around the show can get so tiring for some people that they just fall asleep in the middle of the day. Some booths facilitate this.
5. Mirror, mirror on the wall
Some solutions like virtual fitting tech sounds great in theory but the demos show that there’s still a long way to go.
On the other hand, other offerings that focus on a smaller, more specific application work very well.
6. The Connected Car
There were more automotive manufacturers at the show than ever before, with a heavy focus on connectivity and automation.
7. Physical to digital to physical
The transition from the industrial to information age is entering a new phase, where we are digitizing our physical world.
8. 3D TV won’t die
I was surprised to see that every major manufacturer was showing off some sort of “glass-less” 3D TV. Even in the sweet spot, they seem like an awesome UHD TV got messed up somehow with a blur effect around the edges. 8K, yes. 3D, no.
9. Robots and the uncanny valley
Easily the creepiest thing I saw was Toshiba’s “Communications Android,” which had disclaimers posted around it like “robot does not interact with you.” Even so, when she turned and looked in my direction, I felt a chill run down my spine.
On the other hand, fake robots like Alibaba’s interacted with the crowd and were entertaining.
10. Times they are a-changin’
After recent years of backlash, booth babes have almost entirely disappeared from CES, in exchange for slightly more practical robots and people working out. Moreover, people dressed in cartoon costumes seem to have disappeared from the Strip as well. Here are two types of people you probably won’t see at CES 2016:
When I visited the Intel booth, I looked across the aisle and the old Microsoft space was now occupied by two Chinese manufacturers, Hisense and Changhong. Sign of the times.
However, what hasn’t changed is that the floor is primarily for media and spectacle, while business gets done behind the scenes and off the floor.
I’ll be keeping an eye on how these trends of digitization and connectivity play out over the year, with visible checkpoints at MWC, SXSW, and IFA.