Maturity comes to consumer electronics, for the moment anyway

9 January 2016 by Steve Blum

Now cats can post people pictures on the web.

“A maturing of nascent ecosystems” is one way of describing CES 2016. It was in fact one of the predictions made by Shawn DuBravac, the chief economist for the show’s organiser, the Consumer Technology Association. Translated, it means “you won’t see a lot that’s new, but you will see a lot more of what was new last year”. Spot on.

Home automation control is increasingly decentralised. There are plenty of platforms vying to integrate all your gizmos into a unified control scheme, but it’s optional. You can just as well operate individual devices via a dedicated smartphone app or put controller hubs into everything – as Samsung is beginning to do – and do what you need to do on whatever device happens to be in front of you. A television or a refrigerator for example. If you want devices to work together, Stringify’s third party meta-platform can take care of it.

I didn’t see any mobile power supply innovations. The three wireless charging consortiums at last year’s show have consolidated into two – the AirFuel Alliance and the Wireless Power Alliance – and both have an impressive and non-exclusive list of partners. 2016 probably won’t be the year wireless charging features become commonplace in mobile phones, but it’ll be more common than last year, and next year even more so.

Virtual reality headsets will be the hot new toy, followed closely by drones and hoverboards; television screens will be bigger, with sharper pictures and fuller sound. There will be a compact, wearable device for every purpose, and some for no apparent purpose at all. Any product you can imagine, from toilets to flower pots to bicycles, will have embedded processors and, increasingly, be monitored and controlled via a network connection. Dogs and cats will have their own Internet-enable appliances.

All of that was on the CES show floor this week and will be available in stores and online later this year.