CES 2015: Hardware is Back
CES is big, bold, and full of new innovations. After just two days on the ground in Las Vegas, it’s clear that the 2015 edition of the show is even more vibrant than in past years. Companies are betting big that consumer spending is going to rise, and with that comes plenty of new kit to talk about.
Here are a few trends and announcements that relate to the major categories we previewed a week ago: mobile, wearables, automotive, automation and 4K.
- Cord-cutting is making an impact. While several channels were planning to reveal a streaming-only service in 2015 that would not require a pay-TV subscription, a number of heavy hitters are joining the pay-TV trend at CES. Does this cannibalize their existing business? Not necessarily. Today’s teenagers have grown up with the Internet as television. Pay-TV providers are making sure they don’t miss an entire generation by ignoring the Internet.
- Automobiles are no longer a sideshow at CES; they’re an established pillar. As auto and tech continue to merge, one vehicle this year is arriving in Las Vegas from San Francisco, and it’s making the 550-mile trek without a driver. While the trick is certainly awe-inspiring, what caught our attention was one company’s assertion that the sensors needed to make this work were “production ready.” For those coming to CES under the impression that autonomous vehicles were still a dozen or more years out, it appears that we could see these on car lots far sooner.
- The opening of CES led to a flood of items to wear on your wrist. Fitness bands, watches, and plenty of doodads with questionable merit. But one sector that stood out was the smartwatch designed for the outdoor person. The utility is obvious, enabling it to rise above the others that are wading in a sea of done-for-the-sake-of-doing-it wearables. It’s built for life (meaning it will handle the rigors of subway commuting, hiking, swimming, etc.), has built-in GPS for tracking your various activities, and it actually looks like a watch people would want to wear.
One thing to know from the first day at CES 2015: Hardware is back.
For years, many innovations in the tech space have lived in the cloud or were tucked behind lines of code in a smartphone app. Creating hardware was expensive, laborious and showed weaker signs of big returns in a market still reeling from the economic downturn of 2008. Largely thanks to advancements in cloud technology and the ease of connecting just about everything, hardware is staging its return to prominence. No longer do we have to squeeze an entire computer into a dashboard to make the infotainment center of a vehicle smarter – drivers are already carrying around potent phones with access to the Web, so all that’s needed is a great user interface and a means to link one’s phone to the dashboard.
That example is being applied in nearly every corner of CES. Gadgets are now more affordable to create, as companies can leave the bulk of the computing to a server situated somewhere else. We can expect a surge in new gadgetry unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years, with Internet connectivity not just as a standard feature, but a necessity for core functionality.