Update: Sadly due to serial plane cancellations (at least 4), I will not be attending CES2014. While disappointing, I know I can follow along #CES2014. Just don't bother trying to connect with me at the show. And don't rub in what a good time you had there.
I am excited to attend CES this year. I sent folks last year but was not able to go myself. And now, with my new gig, my head is in a different place. I am hoping to see glimmers of how different businesses from the consumer electronics giants to the startups in Eureka Park believe we will all live in the future. What are new consumer behaviors implicit in new hardware and software? What will be the unmistakable trends (e.g. 3D Printing) versus those that may be more tangential but still prophetic.
Here are seven trends, technologies, ideas that I will be on the lookout for. Each has been informed by some of the smart minds looking ahead and writing about the event. I will still be open to serendipity and am particularly grateful for my new friends at DigitasLBi and Vivaki for what looks like a great curatorial effort. (If you are there and want to connect, ping me via Twitter @jbell99)
The Internet of Everything...Applied
I worked on consumer device for moms last year that just happened to connect to the Internet. It was partly thought-out. It allowed the device to potentially trigger re-order’s when the dispensed product ran low. But part of the reason the device was connected remained to be defined. I am looking forward to seeing more examples where smart folks have thought about how connectivity can enhance or change our experience with products. I still love my Ford Fusion which even in its dated form (2011) sports some terrific connectivity. Now other technologies are coming online that help your older car connect like Mojio. It snaps into your diagnostic port and promises benefits like connecting to your friends.
Inspred by @obrien Los Angeles Times (Chris O'Brien) "CES2014: Consumer electronics show to feature 'Internet of Things'"
Inspired by Josh Ong and Natt Garun, The Next Web “What To Expect at CES 2014”
Wearables Get Real…Sort Of
The Samsung Galaxy Gear “watch” seems like a solution in search of a problem. It was cool when Dick Tracy had a watch device, it’s just not clear that we have really uncovered the use-cases and innovation that will change our lives. (that being said, I love the look of the Pebble Watch and pay attention to their announcements.) Clearly the Nike Fuelband, and other devices in that category have “stuck” a bit. GoogleGlass remains a prototype for some future device/application that we haven’t yet discovered. That doesn’t mean that ‘heads-anywhere’ displays aren’t an important trend. If anything they have great promise in professional circles – repair techs on big machinery, field service reps in insurance following a big storm, physicians. I want to see more than tech for tech’s sake but how smart folks have thought about the application of wearables.
Inspired by @petepachal Mashable “CES 2014: Five Tech Trends to Watch”
- See Fitbark, tracks your dog’s activity via a wearable
- See SensibleBaby, monitors your baby’s ‘vitals’ through the night
The Connected Home Gets Weirder
I love the idea behind an Opower project which aims to use aggregated home energy use data to drive us all to adjust the temperature of our homes meaningfully up or down in response to the view of what our community is doing. I love the idea of Nest which is now trying to build a business with connected and controllable home systems. And I grew up with a science fiction view of the future like what The Veldt. So, I am keen to see how connectivity will change our homes. I fully expect it to get strange before it becomes a standard.
Claire Cane Miller at NYTimes Bits shared her own experiences this holiday season with the state of the connected home now,
“My mother received Hue lightbulbs, for instance, made by Philips and controllable with her iPhone. She can set custom lighting for ambience in the dining room, turn lights on or off remotely, and set lights to slowly brighten in the morning.
My father received a Nest Protect smoke alarm, which sends his phone messages if it senses smoke or has low batteries. He planned to install it near the kitchen, because if it senses smoke from cooking, it speaks with a human voice before sounding a loud alarm and can be silenced with a wave. He can connect it to his Nest Thermostat, which will automatically turn off the gas furnace if there is a carbon monoxide leak.
The devices join my parents’ Withings scale and Bose music system, controllable with a smartphone.”
Inspired by @clairecm NYTimes (Claire Cane Miller) “Is 2014 the Year of the Connected Home?”
Inspired by @ @JW_Ten14 (Jonathon Weinberg Mirror “CES 2014: Top 10 Trends…”
- See Canary, a smart and connected home security and safety system
- See Doorbot, the smartphone enabled doorbell (yes, see who’s at your door via video)
- See Petzila, app-controlled treat dispensing for your pets
- See Smart Diet Scale, evaluates food prep data and displays via mobile device
More Confusion in the Living Room
I don’t think I care about 4G televisions or the opportunity to own a 110” TV. I set aside my gameboxes when Halo was just emerging. But I like to watch movies and my “stories” (e.g. over “The Killing”) the question is now that I am moving into a new house, do I need cable or can I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Aero? Should I just get the next Xbox and connect with that? Is there really any there-there to Smart TVs? Anyhow, it’s a mess. Loads of choices but since I only care so much about watching video I am not likely to configure my own solution. So far we have had new technologies and delivery platforms. New program “packagers” who bundle Hollywood and more exotic programming to deliver via satellite, the Internet and cable but no one really thinking through my experience and needs in a multi-screen living room. I will be keen to see how CES participants view the living room experience. .
Inspired by @b_fung (Brian Fung) Washington Post “CES 2014 Starts Tuesday: Here are Five Tech Trends to Expect…”
The Robots Are Among Us
Remember Roomba. What could be more benign than a robotic vacuum cleaner? Well since then more investment dollars have been pouring into developing technologies that add up to a range of next generation robots. Look at some of the start-ups like Hands Company with Adam, “the first personal robot.” And RoboThespian which looks an awful lot like yesterday's vision of robots-as-humans. We are years away from pratical roll-outs beyond industrial robots but, still, it will be neat to see some of teh visions of this future.
Technology Solving Real World Problems
Sustainable clean water. Lighting in the face of disaster (or lack of infrastructure). Cheap, mobile connectivity. It will be interesting to see how start-ups and more established companies go beyond the entertainment space to deliver promising solutions to real world problems. Look at MPowerd’s Luci Light. Simple elegant source of lighting when no power sources are available. Think about its application following a debilitating earthquake, hurricane or other natural disaster.
And look at Xiaomi’s Mi phone – well designed, in the hands of 20million (double that in 2014), so far and about $330 per handset in China vs. double that for Apple iPhones. Not just a cheap smartphone but a well-designed, half-the-cost smartphone. Innovations like this could easily accelerate the evolution away from feature phones and open up new mobile solutions for folks whose main connectivity is via mobile device.
The Continued Consumerization of Business Tech
Jason Hiner at ZDNET called out this trend of BYOD and, I would argue, BYOS (Bring Your Own Service), where employees are helping (forcing?) corporate tech to change. Everything from building infrastructure that allows for employees to use their preferred smart phone but also apps and utilities that tap into business data (e.g. phone directories) without any significant risks to data and systems security. I see many big businesses committing to become more social businesses. Supporting a more open approach to device and platforms is a big step in that direction.
Inspired by @jasonhiner ZDNET “Four Mega Trends for the Professionals”
(thanks to all for the images used respectfully and to Gagitech for the CES hashtag image)