The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest gathering of the tech industry in United States and a showcase for technology that will set trends in the year ahead, is slated to begin on Tuesday, 7 January in Las Vegas.
A coffee machine that begins brewing the moment you wake up, ovens and dishwasher that can be switched on while you are on your way back from office in your driverless car; wearable tech gear, and not just smartwatches, goggles and sunglasses — there’s even a line of smart jewelry that displays new photos from your Facebook and Instagram feeds, are just some of the gadgets and ideas that will be making its way to the floor of CES 2014.
Now in its 47th year, CES remains one of the most important events on the industry’s calendar, even as other shows like Mobile World Congress and IFA battle for the gadget spotlight. More than 20,000 new products are expected to dazzle the expected 150,000 visitors to the show this year.
Home techs: In the home, it started with Internet-connected TVs and expanded further into smart light bulbs and other products that can be controlled by a mobile device. Now, look for more ways to always be connected. CES will feature kitchen products such as coffee makers, crock pots, refrigerators, dishwashers and microwave ovens that can be turned on and off and adjusted via a smartphone or tablet. The idea is that you can be out and, for instance, turn on the stove to get the pot roast going before you get home.
Also on display will be one of the most unusual launches — Kolibree’s connected toothbrush, which provides feedback on cleaning habits via an app. The app will tell users if they brush long enough and whether they clean the hardest-to-reach parts of their teeth and gums. Or you can wake up and start the coffee maker from the bathroom via the smartphone, so that a fresh cup of coffee is waiting for you when you enter the kitchen, and even a microwave that can be operated by scanning a barcode.
DIY home surveillance and security, locks that don’t need a key, and home lighting like nothing you’ve ever seen. That last category is especially timely, given that sales of 60 and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will be banned in the United States from the beginning of 2014.
Wearable gadgets: Wearables are a new and very niche category, but their rapid growth in 2013 signals an even bigger 2014. We expect lots of new wearable tech at CES, from existing pioneer vendors like Fitbit and Pebble, mega-companies like LG and Samsung, and new startups searching for attention. We expect a glut of fitness trackers and a fair number of smartwatches, as well. And though Google won’t have a booth in Las Vegas, don’t be surprised to see new Google Glass apps along with competing smart glasses, visors, and augmented-reality goggles. And, yes, Oculus Rift will be in Vegas again this year.
Smarter autos: With the massive Detroit Auto Show immediately following CES, auto makers typically use Las Vegas to demonstrate connected car technologies rather than actual new cars. That trend will continue this year with nine of the top 10 auto manufacturers on hand, several with concept versions of cars that drive themselves and alternative fuels. Besides Google touting its connected technology through an Android partnership with Audi vehicles, also expect Audi, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz, to demonstrate their autonomous test vehicles at CES. These self-driving cars won’t be ready for sale just yet, but CES will show just how far along we are.
3-D Printers: In 2012 there were two 3D printer-makers at CES. This year the tech warrants its own zone and about 30 firms are showing off their wares. All-in-one machines that scans and then either prints or faxes copies of an object, are expected to make their debut at this year’s show. Meanwhile, the industry’s granddaddy, 3D Systems, says it will respond to these upstarts with three new model categories: edibles, ceramics and full-color plastics.
Hybrid PCs: As desktops fade away, hybrid devices that blur the line between laptop and tablet take their place. Of course, we’ll see more of those products at CES, but the biggest story should be Valve’s Steambox. Though the first demo kits are just being sent to beta testers, it puts another nail in the desktop coffin by eliminating the big and bulky models that center on gaming. And if the predictions surrounding Steambox do bear out, then this may be the most exciting CES that we’ve seen for gaming in a long time.
TV eye candies: The TV category has long dominated CES, and though it will do so again, the category’s steps forward in 2014 should be smaller. 4K TVs will be big, but plasma displays will be few and far between, if we see them at all. OLED, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere just yet, and that includes the mainstream. Even if we see new OLED TVs at CES, which isn’t terribly likely, they’ll remain far too expensive for most consumers. Look also for more apps and smarter TVs that respond to voice commands. And this being CES, we’ll absolutely see lots of TV eye candy like curved displays and monitors of a mammoth size.
Believe it or not, some of those same TV trends will make their way to smartphones. Bigger displays, curved displays, and higher-resolution displays will be key trends. New developments in hands-free controls won’t be far behind, and 64-bit chips will continue to proliferate. On the whole, though, while smartphone news will be made at CES, most vendors will be holding their bags of tricks close until Mobile World Congress in late February.