CES is heralded as ‘the’ show to see the latest and greatest in technology year after year. I purchased my first home automation system after seeing the MIOS Vera showcased at CES in 2011, my touch faucet, and later, a myriad of wearables as CES progressed. At the Wireless Technology Forum, we love to showcase mobile devices including the latest smartphones, VR, AR, wearables, and tablets.
Here are my top picks from CES 2017.
Wearables are more than just Watches
I’ve disclosed previously that I wear a Garmin 235 watch. It tracks my heartrate, steps, and my GPS location when I am out running or cycling. Garmin also claims that this smart watch monitors my sleep, but I personally don’t find it comfortable to wear while sleeping. I need something even lighter and smaller.
How about a ring instead of a watch? Eureka!
Motiv showcased their smart ring which features a heart rate monitor and accelerometer. There is a USB attachment to upload data to your computer, or data can be transferred to your smartphone.
Even lighter than a ring would be what some are calling a “smart tattoo.” This is a flexible adhesive with electronics communicates via Bluetooth or some form of low power energy. Similar to my fitness watch, this ‘tattoo’ would track my activities. I think this was more of a concept instead of a product, as ‘possibilities’ of using it as a drone tracker was explained instead of “this is what it does.” Another drawback was that it seemed to still require that you carry your phone in order for it to work.
Touchy Feely VR
VR headsets are cool. I have one.
The graphics are amazing, and the latency and other tech issues have been solved (for the most part).
But I need more! It’s not a real VR experience unless I can see, feel, and touch the experience. I can see with my VR headset, but where is the touchy feely? At CES, Taclim debuted the world’s first VR shoes and gloves with haptic feedback. Now, when you’re walking through mud in your VR world, you can feel the mud without having to clean your shoes IRL. At CES 2018, I’m expecting smell and a fan (for wind effect) to be incorporated too.
Smart Home with Alexa Integration
I’ve built an Alexa, I own 2 Amazon Echos, and I have 3 Amazon approved Skills. I might be a bit biased. Siri already provided music, timers, and calendar integration. The value prop in the Alexa just might be the smart home integration. Smart home is not a new concept. Zwave and Zigbee protocols have existed for years (I’m already on my 2nd MIOS Vera), but the integration and UI has been a challenge. Alexa is making smart home as simple as The Clapper.
Bringing Sexy Back
This might make me old, but I don’t care. I started in the mobility industry when it was flip phones and I had several of the early BlackBerry devices (they were called RIM pagers back then). I mastered typing detailed responses on the physical keyboard on my BlackBerry. I caved when the iPhone 2 was launched, as standing in line for hours to buy a phone seemed like a the ‘hip’ thing to do.
BlackBerry is not completely dead. BlackBerry sold their brand to Chinese manufacturer TCL. TCL previewed an alpha build of their BlackBerry at CES. This TCL BlackBerry features (wait for it…) a physical keyboard. Yay! The space bar is also a security fingerprint sensor, keyboard doubles as a trackpad, and the OS is now Android. I’m a Gmail user, so this would be the best of both worlds for me. I’m hopeful that consumers will be open to a new-old phone and we’ll see some real competition to the Apple/Android divide.
Wearables are more than just Fitness devices
When we think about wearables, we usually think of fitness devices, and/or the Apple Watch.
Security, or there lack of, might be one of the reasons why. At CES, Samsung unveiled their enterprise smartwatch security solution. This just might be what we need to bring smart watches to main stream.
Better looking watches might also help too. Fossil showed off 3 lines of ‘hybrid’ smartwatches that use watch batteries so they don’t need to be charged frequently.
That’s my CES 2017 wrap-up. I hope I convinced you to buy a few gadgets in the process to help fuel the economy. Wishing you all the best in 2017 and beyond.