CES 2016 Recap: Flying, Feelings, Fido and the Future of our Reality
By Savannah Peterson
My skin is dry and my voice is gone, but I am inspired yet again after another whirlwind week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Each year, more than 300,000 consumer tech enthusiasts from across the world make their way to the strip to see one million square feet of “new” technologies, and to party in the thousands of sin city suites. This year, Speck Design was there with Val, the all-in-one Mobile Media Studio, and our team noted a few trends.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality is the New Reality: 360 cameras, VR and AR headsets, and the software platforms that power them were all the rage at CES. Gone are the demos with 1-2 headsets with 5 hour lines. They’ve been replaced by VR theaters, immersing thousands of conference attendees in unique experiences a day. Oculus is finally available for preorder ($599) and Daqri’s Intel powered AR helmet is changing the future of work to be safer and more productive.
- Pets are the new People: The fitness tracker trend flattened out a bit this year, likely due to accuracy scandals in the industry. In its place, oodles of connected toys and trackers for fido. You and your cuddle buddy can FaceTime with PetChatz (literally), or they can livestream their buttsniffs with PawsCam (seriously). If your dog is a gamer, then they need CleverPet, the $269 “gaming console” that gives treats for puzzle-solving. The notable exception to the dry fitness tracker trend this year was Under Armour, who introduced a new UA Band Heart Rate Monitor that connects to their UA family of fitness products. The suite looks to be the most accurate ecosystem yet, not to mention their inclusion of capturing how you “feel” in data, which brings a contextual layer that was missing from other quantified health attempts. This is product set I’m eager to test out.
- Back to the Future of Transportation: There might not yet be time machines, but the vehicles of the future are here. The Faraday Future car was finally unveiled in all its 1,000-hp all-electric batmobile glory. While it still remained aloof about when they’ll be hitting the roads, they gave us the taste of this mysterious automotive maker we’ve been craving. Ehang launched the smartest and first legitimate AAV, Autonomous Aerial Vehicle that can fly safely at low altitudes. Chevy’s Bolt came out much sportier than expected, and the automotive/transportation section was bigger than ever, with Ford’s presence being the most commanding. Speaking of the future of transportation, check out the recap of our recent event around mobility, safety, and car sharing, which we co-hosted Ford.
- Robot Feelings Matter: When I think of chipsets, I don’t exactly get misty-eyed, but perhaps I should. Pepper, SoftBank’s emotion-reading robot announced a partnership with Watson, HP’s incredible AI technology. This means that the world’s most empathetic robot could now become the smartest through “cognitive computing.” (*Side note: Our Director of Insights and Strategy, Lee Shupp, will be interviewing Pepper on stage at this week’s National Retail Federation’s Big Show.) If that wasn’t enough, Genworth showed off their R70i age suite, an exoskeleton designed to create“superhuman empathy” by making you feel 40 years older.