Most years, CES is easy to figure out. It’s the world’s foremost gathering of technology companies, investors, retailers, policy makers, service operators, and of course journalists, which makes it the perfect venue for big announcements to be made. There’s almost always a whiff of what to expect – and the entire industry usually coalesces around one or two major buzzwords.
Through the past few editions of CES we’ve seen 3D, 4K, HDR, drones, wearables, VR, and smart homes emerge as themes, and they’ve gone on to shape the industry for at least an entire year. You’ll see every major brand pushing products based on what they think grabbed the most headlines and elicited the most interest at CES. Last year, the show was all about IoT – except that every company was doing its own thing. We were left somewhat unimpressed at the lack of a cohesive vision, and didn’t think that ordinary consumers would get excited about something so nebulous.
CES 2017 will mark the show’s 50th anniversary, and the industry needs to show us that it has really thought about practical applications of such lofty concepts. We’re looking forward to devices and services that deliver specific, relatable benefits which people can get behind, not just vague descriptions of a future in which everything is connected and sensing data all the time. The market is still wide open, and whoever can establish a dominant interoperable platform stands to win big – billions of dollars big.
We expect to see a lot of action around augmented reality, or more specifically, what companies are calling “mixed reality” and “merged reality”. Both Microsoft and Intel have showed off concepts they’re working on, and as we get closer to the release of the Windows 10 Creators’ Update, applications and experiences designed around holographic interfaces and headsets are all but certain to be a big part of CES 2017. We’re expecting existing VR players to show off their latest advances as well, so everyone will be fighting to stake their claim to this massive emerging market.
The world’s biggest tech companies including Google, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have all dabbled in voice-based assistants this past year, and while we might not see any new direct competitors at CES 2017, they all have to cultivate ecosystems as they fight for dominance, and they’re all dependant on machine learning skills and artificial intelligence. We’ll see various other applications of this kind of tech, as well as the backend hardware and connectivity that powers it.
TVs and display tech are always big deals at CES. We don’t have any indication that there will be anything drastically new to show off, but displays will undoubtedly be impressive. Samsung, LG, and Sony, at the very least, will have new flagship TVs and we can look forward to iterative improvements over last year’s models, with slick new designs and possibly a gimmick or two. We’ll undoubtedly get a good look at the latest versions of Android and other smart TV platforms too.
The CES show floors are usually divided into themed areas, and a new one this year is Sleep Tech. After wearables and ambient sensors designed around medical issues and sports, it only makes sense for companies to turn their attention to sleep. Automobile manufacturers usually have a big presence, and this year we can expect even more companies to show off their work in the fields of autonomous driving, sensors, navigation, alternative fuels, and in-car entertainment.
On the other hand, the markets for wearables and tablets are both in rapid decline and we don’t expect to see much innovation. Android Wear isn’t likely to have a huge impact, and any models we see will be iterative improvements.
Here’s what we know in terms of specific announcements, or at least highly believable rumours: Faraday Future could unveil its first production model; Samsung is rumoured to unveil a range of quantum-dot LED TVs called QLED and new Galaxy A-series smartphones; LG has already divulged details of a fascinating levitating speaker and new budget-friendly phones; PC manufacturers will likely launch new models with 7th-generation Intel “Kaby Lake” processors; Nvidia might launch a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU; TCL could push out a QWERTY BlackBerry device; Qualcomm will announce details of its flagship Snapdragon 835 processor; and Asus could make a big push into the US smartphone market.
With more than 3,800 exhibitors from over 150 countries spread across 2.5 million square feet across the shimmering city of Las Vegas, CES will set the tone for technology in 2017 and beyond.