CES Trends

When I’m at CES I always tweet out some of the weird or interesting things I’ve found. I figured this year it would be easier to compile them into a post.

The thing about CES that gets a lot of warranted criticism is how the show often houses a lot of products that never see the light of day, or never reach acclaimed success. This makes the show hard for most people to navigate. For more on this, John Gruber had a good post (Concept Electronics Show) that digs more into the challenges of product companies at CES. My view has always been to use the show to spot trends and find the kinds of things that could impact the tech landscape someday as well as look for the hidden gem of innovation. That said, CES has always been a show were a cross of products that will ship that year and future concepts are shown off. And often, many of those concepts or technology showcases do end up making it to market someday. For those of us doing this long enough, it becomes a show to see bits of the future on display. One just has to be wise enough to filter through the news to find technology that has potential.

Some years are harder to spot the trends than others, but this year seemed much more evolutionary with no real specific product buzz. It seems this year’s theme is a continuation of previous years to simply connect all the things and improve upon the things which were connected in previous years. There are always useful things and also weird things at CES.

Flexible Battery
When discussing with hardware companies and hardware manufacturers about some of the roadblocks for future foldable devices, the battery always comes up. LiBest inc, was showing off a folding/bending lithium-iOn battery that looks to bring us one step closer to solving the battery challenges in foldable devices.

Connected Walking Probe for Visually Challenged
This falls into my theme of more and more things getting connected at CES. This is a probing cane for the visually impaired that has a GPS which will guide its user to the location of their choice using haptic vibrations. It also has a sensor that alerts when people or objects are in proximity.

This is an example of a larger theme that showed up at CES this year of accessibility focused technology. Things like this are meaningful innovations and great use of technology empowering rather than hindering.

Withings Smart Watch With New Sensors
I have always liked the Withings approach with watches. If you wanted a watch that still looked like a watch but still had smartwatch benefit then Withings is a good candidate.

This year, their new sensors bring blood oxygen levels and a sensor that can help detect sleep apnea.

On this topic, I also saw some non-invasive blood glucose monitors that are not perfect yet but show us we are getting closer. All these things are sensors I expect in Apple Watch at some point.

Augmented Hearing
I mentioned some thoughts I had around AirPods Pro and how they have the potential to enhance hearing someday. I came across this product called Olive Smart Ear, which is designed to enhance hearing with a small in-ear device.

Smart Reading Glasses for Dyslexia
The Lexilens from Abeye using new lens technology that is proving to help kids with dyslexia. This is another example of the accessibility tech trend.

Portable PC Gaming
This product from Alienware got quite a bit of attention from the media. Dell has positioned this as a concept, but to be honest I would not be surprised if they shipped it at some point. It is a fantastically designed product but it would be quite expensive. I spent about 20 minutes playing PC games on it and was impressed.

I also had argued for years for Microsoft to build a portable XBOX as I knew it would be a hit. Selfishly, after using this product I know I was right and I do hope we see this product or a future variation come to market.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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