LAS VEGAS — There's always a ton of interesting stuff to find at the International CES. Some items are curiously appealing, others more or less head scratchers. Taken together, though, it weaves into a tapestry of technology whose threads offer clues to the possibilities we might explore in 2015.
If 17 things we found hot, odd and risky at this year's CES were any indications, we see the following trends:
1. Connected devices must take action
IoT devices are everywhere. But connecting devices together is no panacea. Connected devices texting messages to consumers doesn’t quite cut it either. Consumers want systems or service providers to not only automate setup processes, but also take action to solve the problems. Call it IoT 1.2.
2. Let the branding campaign begin for UHDTV
New 4K Ultra High Definition TVs were the must-have demo items until 2014 at CES. This year is different. They’re going mainstream. Why? TV set manufacturers are no longer pitching “ordinary” 4K UHDTV. They’re going “beyond 4K” or “super UHDTV” as value-added products to differentiate one from another. Let the mass-market, branding battle begin.
3. Smartphones define UI
Smartphones continue to define user interfaces for other consumer products. A case in point is the newly launched Android TV, which leverages the smartphone UI with which most consumers have become so familiar. The same goes for the center-stack UI in new cars.
4. Always on
Always-on listening and vision technologies are getting embedded everywhere from streets and homes to smartphones, ovens and fridges. While consumers see the Orwellian implications of constant monitoring, they can’t resist the temptations to see or hear things that wouldn’t be on the radar without embedded cameras or microphones.
In the following pages, we showcase 18 items we found hot, odd and risky at this year’s CES.
An embedded camera in the fridge
Tablet shows what's inside the fridge
One of the most visible trends at CES, mostly driven by IoT momentum, is the proliferation of appliances and systems equipped with image sensors. This Big Brother fad doesn’t exactly make you feel warm and fuzzy, but I found a camera-embedded fridge that tickled my foodie fancy.
Rather than a refrigerator that sends a message that I’m low on milk (IoT1.0), Panasonic’s new fridge has a camera eye inside. I can check what’s inside on my smartphone while roaming the supermarket.
The image runs in a smartphone app that recognizes what’s left in the fridge and suggests recipes based on that.
Panasonic applied the same principle to its oven. A camera installed inside updates me via iPhone on the status of my roast chicken while I’m nestled on the couch enjoying the Packers’ victory over Jerry Jones.