From Futuristic to Functional: A Look at the Top Trends from CES 2017

CES_Recap

The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was as crazy as you might have imagined it to be, with more than 165,000 attendees in the technology industry converging on Sin City all at once. While I am still trying to catch my breath from all of the meetings, announcements and new products, this year’s CES did not disappoint in terms of highlighting some really cool technology. All sorts of “things,” from refrigerators to hairbrushes to cars, are getting connected to the Internet. And as part of the wireless industry, I couldn’t help but notice that mobile devices are at the core of most of these connections.

After taking a look at the myriad product introductions at CES 2017, there were several trends that stood above the “noise” of the show, including the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, AR/VR, connected cars and robotics. While many of these trends were also front and center last year, they are now becoming more consumer-friendly, cost-efficient, and ready (or much closer to ready) for primetime and mass adoption.

Here are some of the major takeaways from our time at CES 2017:

  • The IoT Revolution is Closer: Mobile is front and center of the Internet of Things (IoT), and many of the products and services showcased at CES this year proved that. While many companies are integrating connectivity and sensors into every day products to make them “smart,” the companies that do so in a way that is seamless, straightforward and provides clear value to consumers will ultimately be successful and drive IoT technologies forward to widespread use. One fun example we saw is Target, which is releasing a line of Bluetooth-connected lamps that use tunable white lights and are remarkably affordable.
  • Driving the Connected and Autonomous Car Forward: While fully autonomous driving is not a reality for 2017, more and more vehicles are implementing technologies such as self-parking and automatic braking that are getting us closer to that reality. Companies like Chrysler, Faraday Future and Honda made headlines at CES this year with impressive vehicle showcases. Chrysler featured the Chrysler Portal Concept car, which is fully autonomous and has face and voice recognition built in. While there is no specific plan for commercialization, some of the types of technologies used in the concept vehicle will be available in the not-too-distant future. Faraday Future was founded in 2014 and since then has developed two major concept cars, including the FF FFZero1, which debuted at CES last year, and the FF91, which debuted this year. The FF91 is a stealth-like luxury electric car that will offer many autonomous features such as self-driving and self-parking in addition to a 378-mile range. And for another really cool innovation, the Honda Riding Assist is a self-balancing concept motorcycle, designed to provide the thrill of riding a motorcycle while reducing the danger quotient. It keeps the rider upright, even at low speeds.
  • Robots Take to the Earth and Sky: Robotics was another popular category at CES this year, from inexpensive drones to robots that cost upwards of $10,000. One drone that caught the attention of many techies this year is UVify’s Draco. This drone is modular, easy to repair, and includes assisted flight modes for learning, making it an especially good option for racing. While it isn’t cheap at $499, its modularity allows for easy fixes if an arm or blade happens to break off from crashing into a tree. Another company, Elephant Robotics, showcased a $10,000 robotic arm launching next month that has integrated computer vision and can reduce the overall cost of machinery that’s used for loading/unloading, packaging and testing by 80 percent.
  • Rugged Holds Real Value: CES runs at a frantic pace, and gets more crowded every year. I can’t tell you how many people I saw drop their phones during the course of the show while trying to get from point A to point B. Most mobile devices announced at CES just don’t have the durability to survive through a major fall or a dunk in the pool. Rugged devices—ones that are durable, waterproof and don’t need additional expensive cases—continue to rise in popularity because of their reliability and cost-savings compared to traditional devices, without compromising on features or performance. While most major wireless-industry announcements will probably be made at Mobile World Congress next month in Barcelona, we came away from our time at CES confident that 2017 is full of opportunity for rugged devices.

Now that CES has come and gone, it’s always exciting to see how far the industry will evolve in the coming year. Regardless of what comes next, it is a sure-fire bet that IoT, automotive, robotics and rugged will all continue to be hot topics in 2017 and beyond.

John Chier is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles. When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams.