Looking Ahead To CES: Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid

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I used to really look forward to CES, but the show has gotten so big that instead of enjoying the event, attendees have to survive it. However, based on the invitations I’m getting, there will be a ton of stuff that will render lots of recently-purchased tech toys, appliances, and cars woefully obsolete.  Such is the tech market, where we put on the biggest US consumers’ tech show right after the New Year so you don’t even get a month to enjoy your new gift.  

Let’s talk about some of the stuff you are likely to see come out of the show.  

Smarter Drones

This is a given that I talked about last week.  One of the most interesting, however, is a drone that can grab stuff like a hawk can and, I expect, this idea of drones that can grab things out of people’s hands to be a hit at the show. In general, this idea of intelligently mobile drones that navigate space, rather than just take pictures, is sure to be a theme of the show. 

Robots

We are going to see a ton of robots.  Not only will they be smarter about how they clean and move, but you’ll see better interaction with your cell phones so you can select spots you want cleaned. The real feature is the ability to channel your mother and safely yell at the robot “you call that clean, do it again until you get it right, I want to be able to eat off that floor.” 

Smart Cars

One of the most fun areas to go is the automotive section.   Here you can go see sound systems so powerful they could, if turned up, blow your ears right off your head.  As always, many of these cars will be out of your price range. But you can always appreciate seeing lots of things you want but can’t afford about the time your credit card arrives weighted down by all of your Christmas shipping.   Of course a major topic will be smart cars that don’t drive under the influence, always obey posted speed limits, and drive safely.  Yes, you can now replace your perfect brother or sister with a car so your mom can now say “why aren’t you more like your car, intelligent, good looking, and considerate”.  

Tablet Wake

I expect there to be a wake for tablets at CES this year.  As phones have gotten bigger and laptops gained tablet capability the poor tablet has been squeezed out of the middle.   Expect to see them on the corners of aisles with signs saying Will Browse for Electrical Power.   Expect to see the PC and Smartphone sections sporting huge “L”s with arrows pointing to the Tablet section and using sounds or ringtones that sound a lot like LoooOOOoooser.   I’m really starting to wonder whether we will have or need tablets by 2020.  

Connected Appliances

Well because, you know, it makes so much sense to have a stove connected to the internet.  It’s not like there is any risk of hacking it and turning your home into the literal neighborhood hotspot.   Connected refrigerators that nag you to refresh your food stock, that warn you that things are getting to old, and that scream in terror when you touch that foil wrapped thing in the back of the freezer and refer to it as its precious.  Yes the appliances at the show will be evolving as well so that in a very short time whether it is playing outside, driving a car, or cooking you’ll feel like the dumbest person on the planet.  

Wrapping Up: Dr. Phil

It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Dr. Phil is a speaker at CES this year, because we are all likely to need psychiatric help after everything around us starts talking. Automated drones, cars, large smartphones and small PCs bullying tablets, and appliances that may be plotting to take us out should be enough to push us over the edge.  

This year at CES they are, and this is true, being extremely careful to make sure no one brings in weapons.  The story they are sharing is that it is to keep people safe, I suspect the real story is to prevent us from taking these smart machines out before they get to critical mass and take over the world.  Now if that doesn’t make you look forward to the New Year I don’t know what will. 

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!  (Sent from an undisclosed bunker in the Oregon High Desert).   



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President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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