CES 2016: A Connected World
Notes from a week in Vegas.
CES drew a mix of tech, product, media, and advertising folks interested in catching a glimpse into the future. There was the standard fare of TV, camera, appliance, and auto tech, but the larger theme of the event was connectivity. Large-scale software and hardware leaps seemed to be few and far between, but the practical application of previously groundbreaking products were in high demand.
So, what were some of the highlights?
Internet of Things
Connectivity starts here. The IoT is the connected network of ‘things’ or products, which allow data to be shared. Essentially creating a smarter and more valuable infrastructure, increasing efficiency where you apply it. Enhancing the ability of a single product by connecting it to the IoT allows for a major extension of the current boundaries — it’s fun to think of the possibilities that are right around the corner. Aristotle was right in coining the phrase, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, when you consider the value of shared data to enhance your experience.
Real-world application of our connected car dreams are right around the corner for automakers such as BMW, Toyota, and Faraday Future. They’re all still trying to stay on the path that Tesla has paved with their recent strides in building the car of the future.
- The biggest display of hype was for Faraday Future’s concept car that can be controlled with the same gestures that you use on your phone — pinch, swipe, and tap.
- The BMW Open Mobility Cloud helped us truly visualize how engrained our vehicles could be in our daily life. The IoT is in full force with BMW’s display of a user journey where the vehicle understands your daily schedule, suggests the fastest routes, maps charging patterns to best fit your needs, and even parks itself in your garage or at work…albeit extremely slowly.
- Toyota built on the consistent theme of connectivity by sharing their Smart Mobility Center, which collects and analyzes data to provide a better traveling experience, whether you’re on an adventure or heading to the store. There was also an emphasis on sustainable energy, with the FCV Plus concept vehicle that runs via hydrogen fuel cells.
We already have a variety of smart objects throughout the home that are all connected through the IoT to help you live a more efficient life. One of the keys to CES was displaying a more interconnected system more accessible to the average consumer.
- Lowes displayed a series of connected home products run by a single app, Iris. Their “booth,” which was bigger than most NYC apartments, demonstrated applications of Iris for every room, including: controlling the standard locks, lights and more; establishing if-this-then-that scenarios for everything, including your alarms and carbon monoxide sensors; monitoring your baby sleeping or your packages being delivered; and many more.
- A 24” TV in a smart fridge? Sure, why not. Samsung’s Smart Refrigerator takes your kitchen to the future with food tracking for better shopping lists, menu preparation by ingredient or date, and even tracking of who is snacking more than they should.
- One of the quiet powerhouses of CES Smart Homes, was Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon is tapping into the true spirit of the IoT by connecting with everything else to make a more seamless experience, using Alexa as the interface.
Health & Fitness
It’s worth mentioning Under Armour Healthbox, connectivity in the world of wearables that are only slightly distinguished from one another and not greatly adopted. The UA Healthbox connects a suite of wearables to help track your steps, caloric intake and burn, and sleep. It then can help you manage those elements to live a healthier lifestyle.
The core objective kept coming back to automating for efficiency. Regardless of the business sector or human need, how can we connect current technology and services to enhance our experience? There may be a day in the near future that the IoT starts to cause the physical products to blend into the background, but the service and experience will take the lead — no UI being the best UI.