Next week more than 150,000 consumer electronics industry representatives, assorted media and gadget gurus from across the world will descend on Las Vegas for the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. CES is a trade show like none other. It’s a place where the year’s tech trends are born and technologies become part of our popular lexicon. What happens at CES will set the tone for what’s cool in 2014 and if you can’t make it out to Vegas for the show, you can still keep current by reading our four technologies to watch at CES.
2014 could be the year 3D printing and imaging go mainstream. Companies like Makerbot have ushered in a revolution for designers and engineers by producing table top replicators at competitive prices, enabling start-ups and small design studios to prototype and refine concepts on-demand. Organovo, a bioprinting company, announced last month that it is confident in its ability to create the world’s first biologically printed organ, a human liver, in 2014. While the prices for 3D printers and the scanners necessary to image objects for replication are out of reach for consumers, increased interest in 3D printing, especially among the rapidly growing community of specialty design firms, will lead to its popular adoption. That, in turn, will result in a diversified market and (eventually) lower prices.
Portable electronics have overtaken the consumer technology market. From laptops to tablets, the mobile computer market has gone mobile and is quickly becoming saturated. What will be the next big thing? Look to wearable computers for the answer. There will be an entire section at CES devoted to these products in the “WristRevolution TechZone.” Google Glass may have captured the public’s imagination in 2013, but it represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an entire burgeoning product category that includes everything from bracelet exercise monitors like FitBit to smart watches like the Samsung’s Galaxy Glass and Apple’s speculated iWatch. Wearable computers will be a trend to watch over 2014 as more companies join the fray to create the successor to the iPhone in the mobile market.
Driverless Cars and Automotive Safety
There is a reason CEA called the autonomous car a tech trend to watch for 2014. Nearly every leading automaker, including Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and Nissan, has announced plans to develop consumer grade driverless cars. According to market research firm IHS, driverless car sales could grow to 54 million by 2035, signaling that this tech trend is here to stay. While we won’t be taking our hands off the steering wheel quite yet, consumers are already seeing components of autonomous driving systems make their way into cars today. The blind spot indicators, radar systems and motion sensors that are offered in safety packages in new models today are all small pieces of the autonomous control systems that will eventually lead to driverless cars of tomorrow. The car truly has become a leading space for innovation in technology, with safety being a key component. This isn’t lost on the Consumer Electronics Association, which recently launched its Innovating Safety Campaign to showcase technologies that help drivers stay focused on the road while connected to the technologies we rely on every day.
The Internet, Everywhere
Autonomous cars will be dependent on interconnected information systems, constantly relaying information wirelessly from the car to the road and back. This is just one example of the “Internet of things” that will dominate consumer electronics in the years ahead. We are heading towards a smart future, where our personalized Internet travels with us everywhere we go, ensuring that our data and preferences are always at our fingertips. Connected devices aren’t new. For years, connected appliances have been available but they never quite caught on. Today however, with the popularity of cloud computing and the expansion of wi-fi networks, more products are offering personalized experiences. Expect to see a lot of companies offering devices based on the cloud at CES.
So, tell us…what are you looking forward to seeing at CES?