A Smashing 2016 CES Report
With its usual flair and over-hyped measure of insanity, CES 2016 in Las Vegas showcased the latest from the world of tech. And in a world where technology is becoming embedded into everything around us, the salience of this marquee trade show deepens every year.
In looking at Smashing Ideas’ perspective on what were the Top 5 trends at CES we thought it best to address things both from a macro level, as well as a product innovations perspective – after all, macro movements in culture drive technical innovations and trends on the product side.
1. Digital Transformation
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Brian Marr, attended the Chief Digital Officer Summit at CES. Digital Transformation was a hot topic – Digital Transformation “is about change and change management.” Now, companies are investing in far more than just the customer facing products…they’re thinking about internal operations, business models and organizational structure. The last point was brought up several times, and it’s why non-digital companies struggle so much with change… they are simply not organized to handle a fully digital business, and tend to create chaos when they try to shoehorn it into existing structures. Sound like anyone you know?
The six areas outlined by the CDO of Under Armor (as the things they realized they need to focus on) were:
- Risk Management
- Organizational Culture
- Organizational Structure
- Customer Experience
2. The Evolution of Getting from Point A to Point B
From drones and companies like Google and Amazon planning drone-powered product delivery in the near future, to self-driving and connected cars, the prospect of moving people and products is bringing sci-fi into our everyday. The Unmanned Systems Marketplace in the South Hall covered more than 25,000 SF, a 200% increase over the 2015 CES, showcasing smart drones and even a luxury car that comes with its own personalized drone and launch pad.
Major auto continued its CES high-impact displays, with tech such as heads-up displays, Ford/Microsoft Synch’s deeper integration of the most popular apps in the market at your fingertips or via voice activation, distilled, gorgeous interface design from Audi, and the promise of self driving cars, paving the future of what transportation will look like in the near future. Think safer, greener, more connected and more effortless…but what will all this amazing innovation have on the cost of moving ourselves and the products we love from point A to point B? And how accessible will it be to the everyday consumer? Price points will matter.
3. Smart Home, Duh.
A big part of CES 2015 was all about smartening your home. This year there was clear evidence of manufacturers doubling down on efforts to pack brains into your ordinary light switches, thermostats, and other home systems and everyday applicances. From smart irrigation systems, hoses and water faucets, to smart chairs, windows and espresso machines, this trend shows no sign of stopping and every sign of getting richer and more complex as technology evolves and markets adapt.
With all this power-packed tech, both price point and simplicity will be major factors in mass market adoption. Most smart home tech seemed to fall into the magical price point of $199 – $299. With consumers’ available spending power being stretched with bare necessities such as health and child care, and data showing a dwindling middle class, will these macroeconomic forces enable mass adoption for pricey household gizmos? Those products that save consumers money and pay for themselves will be the winners, with those nice-to-haves like smart phone controlled espresso machines finding limited market appeal with affluent early adopters.
Last quarter saw more sales than at any time in the last 15 years. Cars are red hot again. With Tesla reshaping the sales experience, and a mysterious competitor named Faraday Future unveiling a really sleek competitor, cars are driving consumer excitement. Meanwhile, tech companies highlighted big displays from companies like Harman and Nvidia, whose chips and software could power the self-driving cars of tomorrow.
4. Get Real – Virtually
While some tech will always remain in the domain of geekdom, VR seemed to break out of the geek realm in 2016. Samsung had a huge push with Gear VR, while the famed Oculus Rift permeated VR offerings from a number of players. With a PlayStation VR headset in the works, this tech is going mainstream fast. Look for VR and augmented reality to be simply everywhere and our world will literally never look the same.
5. Keep it Simple, Stupid
With gadgets and apps to make every facet of our lives smarter comes infinite layers of complexity and confusion. Do I really need a device and app to measure every molecule of fat? A smart belt that tells me if I’ve eaten too much? Really? Smart goggles that allow a parent to watch their kids swim from their cell phone…hello, parent of the year, your kid is in the pool…watch them, not your phone!
Aside from the excesses of innovation and stuff that never should be invented, there’s a overriding need to simplify our world of tech. Some players are looking at just that, aggregating together devices and applications into one smart dashboard and making sense of data in micro-moments of AHA! The secret sauce of tomorrow may not be one thing that breaks down a common consumer problem, but a system that combats technical overload throughout our lives. That may be the killer app of tomorrow. Or we could just get a robot and fleet of drones to manage it all for us.