For last few years we have been attending CES in Las Vegas. We usually take three to five days to not only get in touch with exisiting partners in the area of connected services and mobile trends, we also do some decent research about trends, technology developments and interesting partners. While you get used to the hustle of Las Vegas and the absolutly overcrowed exhibition center, this year things seemed to be different. Before arriving in Las Vegas, we had a list of things we wanted to learn about at the CES. The overall objective was to see what is new and what are the „game changers“.
Starting in the automotive hall with our „connected services“ tour, we checked out all major OEMs, to see how their connected services solutions had developed since last year and what they were showing. We saw some pretty amazing developments and innovations. While mostly prototypes, it was clear to see how much the connected services area is developing. It seems that CES is increasingly becomming a tech and automotive show. While the OEMs take the concept of connected car pretty seriously, it seems they are pretty dependent on some of the tech giants in the market like Apple and Google. It will be very interesting to see how much the space will be dominated by tech companies vs. the OEMs. Next was the consumer section with home-entertainment and appliances. It is just mesmerizing what is going on in this space. I guess because there is so much you see that would fit into your living room, like a 60 inch OLED TV, or a mega fridge in your kitchen. What is clear to see is how much Samsung and LG are dominating the market.
Both have a very broad offering, absolutley high-end products and cutting edge design. They controll every inch of the value chain and are able to combine innovation with quality. As far as the TV market is concerned, those two are clearly the leader in TV and screens. The TV sets, which are hardly sets any more, are just fascinating. They are sleek in design and apprearance, the colors, sharpness and the experience from just looking at these screens is amazing.
On the Samsung booth one could also get a good glimpse of one of the more interesting topics, smart home. Smart home was omnipresent across the CES, in almost every hall it was „played“ in one form or the other. The true eye opening aggregation of relevant „things“ we found in the exhibition hall below the Venitian and the Palazzo Hotel. Here was a very interesting combination of some of the most driving forces in tech today.
A variety of companies presented solutions in 3D printing. Although the topic as such was not new, the things you could experience there in 3D printing were just great. From clothing to toys, to spare parts of a bicycle. I assume it will have more impact on the enterprise side, one thing is for sure, 3D printing will become a relevant technology in the coming years. In combination with cloud services, it will enable many businesses to improve their production of goods, as well as to develop new products and bring ideas to live.
A variety of wearables could be experienced at the CES. From watches and accessories to clothing. Not only for humans but also for dogs, wearables seem to make their way into many areas of life. While not every product presented was straight out „amazing“ or „crazy“, you could see a real trend here. Thanks to apple, watches are a big thing of course. I am sure it will be an opportunity for new market players to enter the industry. For some of the established brands, this trend might turn into a headache. They definitely should not ignore this trend.
More exciting than a watch showing you text messages I find in wearables, which especially are (more like will) be able to combine the natural movement of your body with immediate feedback on your smartphone or watch. Through hair thin wiring in some garments, users will be able to learn a lot more about their movements and certain physical activities. It will be possible to measure your movements as well as some body functions to monitor your performance while you ski, surf, run, play tennis or soccer. It will be a constant reminder and information flow of how you are performing. In an aging society this this will be healpful for senior citizens. But also for toddlers, professionals and athletes.
We saw a number of highly interesting prototypes which would give you a glimpse of what will be possible. I assume it will take a few more years to really become a mainstream phenomenom.
The most advanced developments could be found in the area of smart home. Plenty of use-cases would show you how it will be possible to take „operate“ your home. Smart appliances will tell you how much energy you could save, when to reorder, repair, turn off or switch on. It will be possible to monitor and control literally all your electronic devices via your smartphone, smart watch etc. What makes this more than nice gadetry, is that consumers will experience an immeadiate benefit, by saving ernergy, making life more comfortable, more secure and just being in charge. Smart home will be at the center of a lot of things and industries. It will have an effect on a number of businesses and services that are connected to our homes: insurances, power and water companies, gardening, plumbing etc. Home owners will be able to track everything and therefore make sure they reduce the cost of home ownership and the cost of life in general.
While for some readers this might not be new, it is important to understand what is happening. It is not so much about one or the other. It is the compination of these developments that will change the future. 3D printing, smart home, wearables, etc. are becoming mega trends combined with the developments in IoT, Big Data, Cloud Services and Mobility, etc. Over time those forces will bring dramatic change to our personal as well as our working life.
It is the dawn of a new age of total connectivity. „Offline“ will become a term of the past. Everything will be connected to the web and every individual will be able to be much smarter about what is going on and how to deal with it. Comparable with some of the inventions from a hundred years ago, like telephone, electricity and travel by plane. On the one hand it might be frightenting, because everything can be traced and tracked. But then again it is more of an opportunity to tackle some of the larger problems we face as human beings.
While it will bring mankind tremendous advantages and will solve many problems, it also poses a threat for misuse. The challenge won´t be technology as such and the concept of overall connectivity, it will be how to properly integrate this into our life’s and legislation. We all will need to make sure it will be a driver of freedom, prosperity and productivity for all.