HERE'S WHAT TO EXPECT AT CES 2016 THIS WEEK
It's officially a new year, which means that once we've shaken off the grogginess of a cheap alcohol-induced hangover, we're about to be thrust full steam ahead into the biggest technology conference of the year. Truth be told, we've actually been preparing for CES 2016 for weeks now, and we've got a pretty good idea of what to expect in Las Vegas.
- •Cars will once again be a big dealIt has become an annual tradition to jokingly call CES an "auto show," but this year, it’s absolutely no joke: major automakers will be making legitimately groundbreaking announcements here. We may a production Chevy Bolt from General Motors, an electric Microbus from VW, an autonomous car partnership between Ford and Google, and a radical new interface from BMW.
- •TVs will be familiarTVs always seem to dominate the show floor at CES, but don't expect many radically new ideas this year. There'll be lots of 4K TVs (and maybe a handful of 8K models). And many more models than last time will offer HDR, Dolby Vision, and other fancy visual things that enhance the experience beyond just resolution. Samsung's making their TVs the center of the smart home / IoT, and presumably other companies have had the same idea.
- •Smarthome stuff will be everywhereApple and Google are starting to cut through the mess and let everything in our homes talk together. This year, with their help, expect to see connectivity creep into new areas of the home and for existing smart home products to get even more integrated. That dream is still a long ways out, but one of the big things to look for this year is how Samsung, Intel, and major backers are making progress: Can they help these products get connected?
- •All kinds of wearables will be on displayThis year at the big show we're expecting a lot of "me-too" wearables — commodity wristbands, smartwatches from legacy brands, and next-generation trackers with iterative design improvements. Sensors will pop up in everything from sports equipment to sneakers to bras to dresses. "Hearables" will be a theme this year, which basically means that headphone makers have realized they can add sensors to the things we wear all the time anyway and charge a mark-up.
- •Headphones may see their first big update in yearsApple's Lightning connector — standard across modern iPods, iPhones, and iPads — could be the catalyst for a dramatic change. There are already Lightning headphones from Philips and Audeze, whose advantage over conventional wired cans is in sending a digital signal to an integrated amp and converter inside the headphones. This allows companies to fine-tune the sound processing specifically for each pair of headphones.
- •Rideables will be more than just hoverboardsJust about everything with wheels will likely have some electric motor attached to it. There will be dozens of small names: Arcimoto will show off its speedy 3-wheeled electric cart, Inboard will be demoing a skateboard with electric motors in the wheels, just to name a few. But there will be some big names, too — Segway, which is now owned by Ninebot (which is backed by Xiaomi), has a big launch event planned for January 6th.
- •VR will still be waiting to exhaleAugmented reality is a constant presence at CES, but it could be more high-profile after a year of HoloLens and Magic Leap hype. Oculus still hasn’t announced a launch date for its Rift headset or shown off a non-prototype version of its Touch controllers, either of which could materialize during the show. Given how much momentum VR has right now, it’s also plausible that new companies could jump on board, especially PC hardware and accessory manufacturers.
- •Phones, cameras, tablets, laptops, and drones will be there, tooCES is never a big show for the other major consumer electronics categories, but they all will be there in some form or another. The big smartphone makers outside of Apple will hold their major announcements for later in the year, but expect to see news from smaller players such as Alcatel Onetouch, ZTE, and Huawei (which is huge globally, but still small in the US). Same goes for the camera makers: we expect to see at least something from one of the big players.