For my CES 2016 roundup, I’m taking a look at the overall trends and products that stood out for me. CES roundups usually throw up lots of debate. With 3,600 brands exhibiting hundreds of thousands of new products, there’s plenty of room for disagreement. With that said let the roundup begin.
As per usual at CES 2016 we saw lots of TV’s, home appliances, computers and mobile technology. What stood out to me as being an indicator of upcoming trends was the dramatic increase in Drone technology, VR Gaming, 3D Printing and the emergence of the ‘Analogue Renaissance’.
The evolution in drone technology this year is an indicator that we aren’t as far away from the Jetson’s style motorways in the air packed with flying cars. Science Fiction usually presents flying cars as a winged car propelled by glowing rockets. Enter Ehang 184. A fully automated flying car – drone hybrid that carry’s one passenger. It’s battery lasts for approximately 20 minutes per flight and allows for journies of around 25km. You won’t be seeing your work colleagues parking one of these outside your office anytime soon, however you could be spotting that visiting CEO or Senior Executive using one to get from the airport to your office.
3D printing has been around for a few years now but is still very much a specialist practice due to cost of the various plastics, nylon and polyamide needed to print. I was really excited to see Mcor win an innovation award this year at CES. The Mcor ARKe is likely to bring 3D printing to a desktop near you very soon as it uses standard copy paper to print. I’ve been talking about this innovation in 3D printing for nearly ten years now after being fortunate enough to visit Mcor’s plant, way back in their start up days, on a photo assignment. It was hard to imagine their prototype at the time sitting in a small home office due to it’s industrial look and size. All that has changed now with the launch of the ARKe. It is no bigger than your average multifunction home office printer -scanner – copier.
Oculus Rift was the stand out VR headset at CES 2016. HTC also showcased their HTC Vive amongst a slew of more affordable VR headsets. Oculus Rift with it’s slick Oculus Touch controllers was the product that has gamers across the world most excited. Initially it will be an option for the die hard early adaptors with a price tag of €699 / $599 as well as an Oculus ready optimized PC starting at $999 / €900.
It’s my own personal view that in the future we will see technology hidden under an analogue veneer rather than trying to look new and futuristic. Much like some of the recent premium smart watches from brands like Tag Heur. They look like a traditional high end watch with smart features hidden under an analogue watch face. This year has seen Kodak, Sony, Panasonic, Polaroid amongst many other showcase digital tech with an analogue appearance. Kodak’s comeback was a nice moment for the tech romantics who were sad to see the former imaging giant’s demise over the last decade. Kodak are now inviting us to join what they are calling the ‘Analogue Renaissance’. They appear to be trying to start a creative movement. What surprised people most was the fact that they were back to showcase a Super 8mm video film camera. A camera they last produced in 1982. Kodak’s Super 8mm camera still shoots on Kodak Super 8mm film cartridges but can also record picture and sound onto an SD card with a built in digital mic. With an even more curious mixture of old and new you can send your film to Kodak who will process and convert to a digital format before sending you a youtube link to download your footage.
Sony and Panasonic also went back to their product archives and added a digital twist to the classic vinyl turn table. These 21st Century turntables can play Vinyl LPs whilst also converting them to digital files so that you can enjoy that unique crackle and tone that you only get with Vinyl.
One thing that is clear 2016 is shaping up to me an exciting year for tech fans. Watch out for lots of entertainment industry disruption coming from the many companies developing VR hardware. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Hololens, Playstation VR will change our understanding of the term social. My bet is that VR will re-define how we experience concerts, theatre, sports events in a similar fashion to how iTunes changed our music buying habits.