CES 2016: A Preview and a Prediction for the Future


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Happy New Year!

Here I am getting ready to head to Las Vegas to once again cover CES, and as I look at my predictions and coverage for the last few years it seems that most of what I've written was right on track. Life is not always that kind with regards to meeting our expectations, but for the last few years not only have the predictions for technology’s future been mostly on track, it seems that they have been exceeded and that progress has accelerated.

With regard to CES, I am sitting here trying to set priorities regarding whom to visit and what to see. This year it is even more impossible to see everything, or even see all of what I am most interested in.

CES1.JPGThis gigantic show has spread out yet again, with exhibits not only filling the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands, but also much of the Venetian, Mandalay Bay and this year, various other hotels and venues. This year there are a number of seminars and several technology segment sub shows. We will be also covering CES Unveiled, which is a press-only event showcasing new devices ranging from the awesome to the ridiculous as well as Showstoppers and other categories (more on that below).

Last year I made a number of predictions for CES as well as for consumer tech for the year 2015 in general. I promised to review them and see what actually happened so let’s do that along with some new predictions for 2016.

My 2015 CES predictions from a year ago, alongside today’s reality:

2015 prediction for IoT: We will see a great deal of hype on the Internet of Things, where everything is connected, but my prediction is that the cost and pain-in-the-butt issues will keep this from becoming fully mainstream except in some areas such as fitness.

2016 reality: I was mostly correct, in that devices such as Apple watches and many other wearables have not taken off. Yes, many new devices are being announced at CES this year and fitness wearables such as Fitbit, the Microsoft band and others have certainly gained a large following, as predicted last year, but with the exception of fitness the story is still being written.

2015 prediction for 3D printers: No doubt they are making great strides and I expect to see cheaper and more capable ones this year but…except for a few very specialized uses I do not see everyone having or even wanting one—perhaps ever.

2016 reality: I just may have been wrong on this one. I still feel that the average home or office will not need or even want a 3D printer for a long time, but the overall technology is advancing so fast that 3D printing could supplant many of our tried and true manufacturing processes over the next 15–20 years. Imagine, 3D printing a complete device all in one piece, no circuit boards, no screen, no components, no case. Sound crazy? So did portable phones and instant communications from anyplace at any time in the mid-20th century.

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