Thought /

CES: Should We Still Care?

By Justin Bingham | January 27, 2015

Let’s face it – the holidays are over. The presents have been opened, the carols have stopped, and Santa Claus has left local malls all across the globe and returned home to the North Pole. It’s true that all good things must come to an end. However, if you’re a tech connoisseur, the festivities continue into January with the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Referred to simply as CES, the tradeshow has been taking place since before we went to the moon. In its 48th year, it’s reported that this year’s event was the largest in history with over 3,600 exhibitors and 170,000 attendees. Plus, with the tradeshow residing in Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed “entertainment capital of the world,” it’s almost expected that the technological advances and gadgets coming out of the event will be somewhat extraordinary and heavily discussed.
But, how relevant or worthwhile is this show, of all shows? Apple – the almighty and powerful brand that floods desktop screens and news feeds worldwide when it has a new product announcement – doesn’t think so. It does its own thing.
Every year, we see and hear of these amazing technological advances and flashy gadgets coming out of the show, but do we actually use or buy any of them? Worth also considering – are the glitzy toys stealing the spotlight from the perhaps more useful (if not as eye-catching) products and technologies?
So, what made this year’s CES worthwhile? And was it truly innovative as compared to year’s past?

Self-driving Car
We can all relate to running late for a meeting due to bumper–to-bumper traffic. We also know traffic is inevitable during the daily morning commute. But picture having the ability to ease the pain of the gridlock, and get a head start on your to-do list before even entering the office. That sounds like the dream – something the self-driving car can help make a reality.
CES 2015 saw automobile kingpins such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz unveil cars of the future that can operate sans drivers. These specially-equipped cars will allow drivers to turn vehicle control over to their car in stop-and-go traffic and elongated highway trips, opening up the possibility for commuters to tend to any looming personal or professional tasks.
These cars of the future can also liberate drivers from the pain of finding a parking spot. Imagine being dropped off at a fancy restaurant, your car finding a parking spot a few blocks away, and returning to pick you up when you’re ready to leave – it’s your very own Uber, minus the surge pricing!
Yet, last year, CES already saw the self-driving car take the floor. Just like this year, Audi and BMW brought their new technology to the floor in 2014 and demonstrated what these cars can actually do. But, as much as the demonstrations were mind-boggling, it still doesn’t seem clear when consumers might get a chance to purchase these cars for themselves.
Mercedes-Benz took the gold this year by taking self-driving cars to the next level, as it showcased its vision for what a car might look like in the next 15 years (2030). Its F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle looks like it came straight out of Futurama. With swiveling chairs and HD screens, you won’t even feel like you’re in a car: it’s more like your own personal, moving movie theater.
Still, as cool as this all sounds, 2030 is not even close to being on our radar. And, it’s not even evident how many of us Muggles will be able to shell out the money to adopt this technology as our prime source for getting from point A to point B – thus, making the CES showcase seem irrelevant for the near-term.
The Wearable
It’s quite hard to walk down the street or take public transportation without seeing some type of wearable device on a person’s wrist. Whether it’s a Fitbit, Misfit or Jawbone – the market for wearables is providing consumers with countless choices to monitor things like sleep patterns, steps and calories.
As the wearable has become an almost vital device, CES made sure not to shy away from showing what these effective tools can do…again. Of course, some of the household favorites updated their look to sparkle like an Academy Award, but if is still tracks the same information we are accustomed to, is it really something we should care about?
A new and interesting item that did take the tradeshow by storm was the Emiota Belty – a connected belt that can monitor waistline measurements and let users know when it may be time to lose some weight. This ingenious mechanism will also automatically loosen when a user sits down and tighten right back up when standing. The idea is palpable, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there will be a repeat of this model in 2016.

Smart Home Technology
By now, our lives are always “connected” in some capacity. Laptops, tablets, mobile…the list goes on. So, it would be foolish if we didn’t embrace the connected technology that could change the landscape of our homes.
Smart home technology continues to grow by the minute and at CES we saw what we can use now, and what’s in the pipeline. From smart ovens , which send phone updates when food is done, to washing machines that allow one to wash two loads of laundry simultaneously, companies such as GE and LG are doing their part to help simplify our lives.
For those who travel frequently, Parrot’s Flower Power and Petnet’s SmartFeeder can make sure both are taken care of while you’re on the road. And, you’ll get updates on your furry friends delivered straight to your phone, offering peace of mind while just down the street or even out of state.
But, at CES 2014, we saw these same items. Smart ovens were showcased as well as flower pot sensors, not to mention that most of these devices are easy to find simply surfing the web or on Twitter.
Although CES has been a mainstay for almost half a century, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that companies will conceive easier and cheaper ways to get knowledge of their product(s) out to the masses. Apple has mastered it, so it may be only a matter of time before others follow suit and make CES something of the past.



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