The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is, in many ways, a means to take the pulse of consumer tech and where all the big companies are going with their next line of products or what start-ups are hoping to get their first taste of a large audience.
With Christmas behind us, all eyes now turn to the next big thing in drones, phones, and smart homes. Unlike in the past, CES is now so big that there is rarely one standout product. The sheer vastness of CES means there’s a lot of hyperbole, and in some cases pure nonsense, so it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here we’ve chosen the five biggest trends to keep an eye on at CES this week.
1. Virtual Reality Headsets Everywhere You Look
Call it déjà vu but it feels like it was around this time last year that 2015 was proclaimed as the year of virtual reality. Predictions weren’t exactly wrong but 2016 is likely to be far more important because this is the year that Oculus will finally release its first commercial products.
At CES several companies will be attempting to pull some of the spotlight in their direction. HTC will be holding a demo for its (delayed) VR headset built in partnership with Valve while images of the Vive headset have leaked online. Sony will be out in full force at the convention too but will it give us an update on its own VR efforts? Meanwhile start-ups like WakingApp will be displaying its VR content creation tool.
2. Drones Taking to the Skies in a Big Way
They’re going nowhere. Drones are here to stay. The FAA introduced its drone registration program just ahead of Christmas to meet the wave of festive UAV gifts that would take to the skies and it’s mostly been painless—at least for now. Drones are getting more and more popular and the market is only getting bigger.
The main focus this year will be GoPro who have been scheduled to launch a drone of its own, Karma, this year. CES is certainly a big enough stage to launch it. Qualcomm is also expected to release some details around the Snapdragon chip it is developing for drones. Elsewhere start-ups will be flaunting their wares, like Belgium’s Fleye and its safety rotors, which are encased in a protective shell to avoid injuries.
3. The Smart Home Pushing On
Smart appliances and hardware for the home are either really cool or hopelessly dull. Nest has captured the hearts of smart home enthusiasts but for every interesting product, there are a couple of highly vaunted duds.
Expect to see a lot of smart home gadgets on the floor this week. The likes of LG will be displaying its SmartThinQ, a smart home hub similar to Amazon’s Echo that acts as a control center for other LG devices and appliances around your home such as the oven or air conditioners. Samsung, Bosch, and Qualcomm are expected to launch new smart home products this week as well.
4. The Tech-Focused Future of Cars
We’re still talking about the future of cars, whether it’s self-driving vehicles, connected cars, or electric power and many of the auto industry’s biggest names will be in Las Vegas this week. Volkswagen is holding a press event to launch its new electric car, most likely in hopes of mending its bruised reputation following 2015’s emissions scandal.
Ford will also have a presence and will probably be pressed on its rumored partnership with Google. Other car makers like BMW and Toyota will be present too. CES will also see many lesser-known companies exhibit their car tech, like California’s Faraday Future and its autonomous electric car that it has been teasing for a while.
5. Smaller Smartphone Manufacturers Taking the Stage
Many major smartphone makers stage their own dedicated events for launching devices and Mobile World Congress is next month, another prime event for announcing phones. However CES is still a hive for new smartphone devices and accessories but don’t expect any game changers. Samsung will have a presence but mostly for its smart TVs, so any hopes for a glimpse at the anticipated Galaxy S7 are likely misplaced.
Huawei on the other hand is rumored to be launching its Honor brand in the US. Also be sure to keep an eye on LG, Asus and HTC (when it’s not showing off its VR) as well as chip makers like NVIDIA and Qualcomm, who all may present new tech that will have an effect on future smartphones.