Every year since our founding, L4 Digital has traveled to CES in Las Vegas to catch up with clients and partners, and learn about emerging trends. This year was no different, and after walking the show floor, our overall impression was one of maturation and progression rather than innovation and disruption. Here are some of the most interesting products we came across.
Drones, Drones, DRONES
Drones are not a huge market in absolute terms, but they had a significant presence on the show floor. DJI announced new models that further refined their existing market leading models for pro and amature fliers by improving navigation and video. Parrot announced the Disco, the first ready to fly fixed wing drone. There was a lot of emphasis on safer, more controlled flying – with avoidance and navigation technology showcased by Intel/Yuneec, 3DR, and AirDog. The biggest splash was made by EHang and its Ehang 184 personal transport – a drone that can carry one person. While it likely faces an uphill battle with regulators, it has many compelling use cases.
VR/AR – Your Future Will Be Virtual and Augmented
There were countless VR and AR based products on display throughout CES. We were most impressed with the AR products. Qualcomm had an impressive “invisible museum” display, where the art could only be experienced through Qualcomm equipped tablets. There were a number of very interesting heads up displays, both in-car, in-helmet and glasses-based. BMW’s helmet concept showed how an AR could make motorcycles safer. Daqri’s “x-ray” AR glasses allow users to see inside of objects, with an eye towards industrial use cases. There are already a number of heads up displays available for cars, but they look to get even more sophisticated in 2016, from the futuristic all-camera based displays in BMW’s concept car to the more modest app based solution from Carloudly that adds HUDs to existing cars. In a different direction, Hyundai’s Augmented Reality maintenance manual seemed like an idea whose time had come.
Your home will likely be extremely connected at some point in the near future. To help you along the way, manufacturers showcased numerous products that will be shipping in 2016. Samsung showed an almost laughably connected refrigerator. A number of companies vied to be the hub that glues together all of your home devices, including LG, Samsung, and Insteon. Individual products such as connected leak detectors, security devices, and smart appliances were all compelling on their own, but it is still an open question if they will ever have a reason to talk to each other or if there will be a single platform that would enable them to interact with each other.
Internet of Things Grows Up
IoT has been a buzzword for a number of years, but this year’s CES showed how it has grown up. Beyond the individual products, what was most impressive was the number of platform providers that were making a pitch. These platforms provide firmware to integrate sensors and communication chips (wifi, bluetooth or RF), cloud-based services to collect and control devices and SDKs to create mobile and web clients. Startups like Thingworx and Ayla Networks, along with entrenched tech companies like IBM, Microsoft and AT&T are all vying for a share of the 6.4 billion connected devices estimated to be in the wild in 2016. A few of these companies will almost certainly emerge to support the visions of the connected world, and will be central to both the quality of the user experiences and security of this world.
The product we wanted to buy most for personal use were the Sony h.ear noise cancelling headphones. Even on the raucous CES floor, the headphones offered a moment of tranquility and comfort. We also wouldn’t mind if Corning dropped off one of their amazing conference table sized touch screens for one of our collaborative spaces.
Even though there weren’t any completely earth shattering product announcements at CES (such as SlingTV), we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw on the showfloor. The developments within the IoT, drone and VR/AR ecosystems were exciting to see, even if a bit predictable. As always, CES did not disappoint.
Image courtesy of Jason Blackeye for Unsplash.