The marathon that was the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show is now in the virtual books, and three days of walking the endless floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the LVH gathering halls and the Venetian’s expo space revealed a few general progressions — genuine trends that will change your daily life.
Before getting to the major stories, one obvious fact dripped from the rafters. From this point on, if your tablet or smartphone is damaged in any way, you are an irresponsible buffoon. There are more cases made of more materials in more levels of protection than I’ve had hot dinners.
Griffin allows no case in its Survivor line to get out the door unless it can withstand a drop from six feet. Ballistic has cases like the its Hardcore unit that can withstand similar damage. And G-Form dropped their Xtreme Case from 100,000 feet without damaging the contents. There is so much protective technology at CES that it boggles the mind how these companies stay in business amidst such unrelenting competition.
But, I digress.
The most intriguing patterns seem to run in direct opposition to each other. The next year or so will introduce technology you never touch and gadgets in constant physical contact with you.
Gesture control is moving in to guide everything from computers to appliances to small gadgets. Bosch introduced its Sensortec and Akustica software to aid consumers and in communicating through gesture in consumer devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops.
Other gesture uses will include medical applications in operating rooms and emergency centers. Surgeons and EMTs will be able to access medical histories and reference date without bloodying touch screens or keyboards.
Everyone from veteran chefs to aspiring cooks will be able be to control their stove, oven and microwave with hands sticky or slimy with ingredients. When they’re done eating, they’ll control their home entertainment system from their couches without need of remote controls. The entire movement promises to make us cleaner, but potentially lazier.
At the other extreme are an oncoming suite of devices consumers will wear throughout the day as they do watches, rings or bracelets. We’ve already seen the early stages of this trend with Nike+, the smart bracelet that fitness-savvy users wear all day to track their physical activity.
These devices can be something as simple as Gunnar Optics’ new line of eyewear designed to protect human eyes from a day spent in front of a computer screen, high-def TVs and video game monitors.
Pebble Watch and Martian Watch tell the time while syncing with a smartphone to deliver messages and other data to the user.
Of course, the most tantalizing “wearable” rumor on the CES floor involved a company that never bothers to show up in Vegas. We’re all hearing rumbles of Apple introducing their own watch — essentially a small iPhone consumers would wear – similar to Pebble and Martian, but native to Apple. It’s a testament to the scope of Apple’s reach that the company could quietly dominate talk at CES without bothering to set up shop on the convention floor.
When not waving at appliances or taking early steps toward becoming cyborgs, we’re going to be living in smart houses. Household automation is a rapidly developing trend. While newer homes will be built with more advanced automation systems controlling everything from common functions such as heating and cooling to security and lighting. But, systems on the CES floor promise to promote energy conservaton and bring down fuel bills.
The most consumer friendly entry into home autmation is Belkin's Wemo technology. It's plug and play, allowing consumers to add automation compnents room to room – all controlled by a central smartphone app. Wemo is available now if you're still in the CES spirit.