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CES 2016 in Review: Futuristic Trends on the Horizon

 Virtual Reality at CES 2016 included Oculus VR’s Medium.

The tech industry’s biggest North American trade show highlighted some exciting business tech trends, both current and emerging. Everything old is new again, and there was a big retro presence at the show. Turntables and cameras in particular showed up with new takes on old favorites. Sony’s PS-HX500 is a high-res turntable that plays records and converts them to digital files. The Polaroid Snap is a small printing camera that’s sleek and fun, not clunky like the original Polaroids.

While retro made a good showing at CES, it wasn’t the top trend there this year. The Internet of Things, virtual reality, smarter appliances, and self-driving cars were the biggest trends.

The Internet of Things is Finally Real

The Internet of Things has evolved from silly things into cost-effective smart and connected items. Prices for smart technology are coming down with companies developing tech like Intel’s Curie embedded devices chip for under $10 and Cypress processors that handle sensor input in the field with no batteries. This technology means devices can operate on solar, thermal, and kinetic power. This means we can say “bye-bye” to billions of batteries and clunky chargers. Panasonic has an Internet of Things platform, Ora, and Samsung has the SmartThings platform. Now the Internet of Things is a working ecosystem that is actively evolving.

Smart “things” made a big showing at CES 2016, including the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator and Netatmo security camera. This year’s show highlighted items that make everyday life easier, better, faster, and smarter with sensors, connectivity, and computers.

Virtual Reality Advances

Virtual reality is starting to step outside of gaming and push the boundaries of art. Virtual Reality at CES 2016 included Oculus VR’s Medium and the Google’s Tiltbrush. Medium is a virtual paint app that lets users create sculptures, paintings, and 3D objects using the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch controllers, and Tiltbrush is a painting app that lets you “paint” in a digital space.

VR hasn’t left gaming behind for art, but it is combining gaming and art in new ways. Media Molecule’s game Dreams for PlayStation 4 lets users create their own video game space with the game controllers. Microsoft’s HoloLens does something similar for Minecraft. VR moves to smartphones with the Gear VR, a Samsung VR headset to use with Samsung phones. Google Cardboard is a VR viewer for use with smartphones. Automakers are also venturing into augmented reality, with Hyundai’s AR system that runs from a smart phone app to bring auto manuals to car owners’ hands with interactive troubleshooting and repair information, and BMW’s motorcycle helmet that displays RPM and gas levels for riders in real time.

Household Appliances Get Smarter

It’s time to start seeing household appliances as tech gadgets. Marathon Laundry’s side-loading machine does the washing and drying with one smart machine connected to the internet that saves time, energy, and money. Samsung’s AddWash is a side-loading washer that has a separate door to add clothes and detergent mid-wash. Samsung’s Family Hub Refrigerator is connected to the Internet so you can check what’s in the fridge (or what’s missing) while you’re shopping. You’ll never have to rely on your grocery list again. LG’s fridge lets users see inside without opening the doors and letting cold air out. The LG Styler steams and shakes clothes to eliminate ironing and manual steaming.  

Self-Driving Cars

The future of cars and auto repair and maintenance will be as much about software and algorithms as wrenches and tools. Top automakers were at CES talking about plans for self-driving cars and how the auto industry will change in the next five to ten years. With car buyers waiting with baited breath for self-driving vehicles, automakers are racing to be the first or have the most available for market. KIA Soul EV autonomous model is in testing in Nevada and was on display at CES 2016.

Ford CEO Mark Fields claimed that the automaker is increasing its number of autonomous testing vehicles to 30 in 2016. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company would have the technology ready for fully automated self-driving cars in two years. Cars of the near future will run more on cloud computing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence than on gas and oil!

With plenty of prospects for expansion in the technology industry, anticipate greater opportunities for enterprise tools that make life in the home and the office a little easier. We will be keeping track of the CES 2016 releases throughout the year for more updates on this “tech of the future”!