Predicting the next big thing in consumer technology

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which concluded last week is the world’s biggest trade fair, with over 150,000 attendees. Every January it takes place in Las Vegas across 2.2 million square feet of exhibition space. The show attracts industry professionals and visitors eager to try out new technology set to be launched later in the year.

Elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the merging of human and computer intelligence, have been seen in action at the CES 2106. And as computing becomes a vital part of most industries, the expo has grown from a niche event for techies to a global summit for executives in media, marketing, health-care, retail and car manufacturing and other sectors.

Since it began in 1967, the show has presented products that have become consumer must-haves, including the VCR in 1970, the DVD in 1996, Microsoft Xbox in 2001 and 3D printers in 2014. It has also debuted other less successful technologies – 3D televisions, anyone?

Predicting the next big thing in consumer technology is not a precise science, but here are the gadgets that everyone at the Show is talking about.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich holds up a new Yuneec Typhoon H drone, which he said was the first consumer drone equipped with Intel's RealSense sense and avoid technology during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2175P

Drones

Drones took centre stage at the show . Lily Robotics, winner of the CES 2015 Innovation Award, showcased their “throw-and-shoot-camera” a camera drone which follows the user via a tracking device. Companies including Parrot and DJII are hoping for a continued interest in drones with their latest devices. Parrot’s Disco Drone travels at 50mph and weighs just 700g, while DJI showcased the Phantom 3 4K featuring a 4K camera and WiFi transmission.

Intel also previewed their drone offering, the Yuneec Typhoon H. The device features collapsible propellers, a 4K camera and a controller with a real time display, however the interesting aspect of the Typhoon H was the RealSense technology that allowed thedrone to detect the distance of nearby things, helping it to stop, wait and go round obstacles.

Eric Yu of Royole models the company's foldable Smart Mobile Theater system during "CES Unveiled," a preview event of the 2016 International CES trade show, in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2016. The $700.00 system has noise-canceling headphones and a viewing system that is vision correctable so you don't need to wear your glasses, Yu said. REUTERS/Steve Marcus - RTX2121Z

Virtual Reality Headsets

Virtual reality had fallen off the agenda until the launch of Oculus after a crowdfunding campaign reignited the hype around VR. “2016 is poised to be the year that consumer awareness of virtual reality reaches meaningful levels” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight.

CES 2016 saw new devices from Sony, HTC and Oculus. ranging from immersive gaming allowing players to experience a 360-degree environment, to short-length live-action movies, and even the possibility of real-time video streaming of sports events. Virtual reality manufacturers want to prove to consumers that VR is worth both our time and our money.

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Wearable Devices

From smart watches, to UV-sensing patches, wearable technology was a major source of new devices. Beauty brand L’Oréal partnered with tech company PCH to create a UV-sensing stretchable device that is worn on the skin and tracks the strength of the sun’s rays. New Balance, the sports footwear maker, has partnered with Intel to produce a smartwatch aimed at athletes.

Fitbit also premiered its new fitness-focused smartwatch at the CES. The Blaze smartwatch will include a colour touchscreen, continuous heart-rate monitoring and call and text alerts. The launch of a smartwatch to rival Android and Apple offerings comes as more companies move into wearable tech.

Brands have begun to move away from creating new devices that can be worn towards integrating the technology into things we already use. One such is Canadian startup OMsignal with the ‘ultimate smart bra’ with embedded health tracking technology.

160105-wearables market size forecast BI Intelligence

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