It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's wonderful not just because of the holidays and the snow and family gatherings, but it's also the lead-in to the annual International CES taking place in Las Vegas.
That's where manufacturers from all over the world descend to show off the latest and greatest consumer technology products we'll be seeing in 2014.
More than 150,000 people will be there to inspect, play with and try out the new products. This is my ninth trip to CES -- maybe 10th. I've lost track. Over the years I've seen the launch of OLED screens, Ultra HD TV's, connected health and fitness devices, and so much more.
After reading through the copious amounts of emails and product pitches that have come in this past month, there are a few trends we know for sure we'll be seeing at this year's show.
Sure, Sony already released not one, but two smart watches and Samsung launched its Galaxy Gear watch this fall, but the wearable category is just starting to heat up. And we're not just talking watches. Look for wearable cameras and clothing embedded with sensors and trackers as well.
Expect to see new fitness trackers from LG and Archos to take a place alongside the established Fitbit, Nike FuelBand and Jawbone bands. For those who find those clunky and unappealing, we'll also see jewelry-like bracelets and necklaces that pair with a smartphone.
While some attendees may be walking around viewing the show through Google Glass, that's far from the only player in the smart glasses field. We'll see new augmented reality glasses like the ones from OrCam that read texts aloud, glasses that make you feel like you're in an IMAX theater, and glasses with embedded cameras for consumers as well as athletes.
Every toy now comes with an app or a connected component. Is that a good thing? SpinMaster's Zoomer shows us how devoted an electronic pet can be, and we'll see new tablets and devices for kids from Vivitar, Samsung, Polaroid and Kurio. Also look for a new kind of interactive playground from Neos, an outdoor play system with a touch of tech.
We hear about the "Internet of Things," but what I'm truly interested in is how do you make all these things work together? Instead of having separate apps for your Nest Thermostat, Yale lock, Philips Hue bulbs and more, companies are introducing ways to unify these devices. Revolv is out with a smart home automation kit, and we'll see Piper and Viper helping to automate your home. Even Lowe's is showing off a voice-controlled home automation system.
LG, Samsung and others are automating the kitchen with new connected appliances, if only they could make dinner for us. Oh wait, for that there's the Lynx Smart Grill which can talk and interact with you. I haven't seen this one in person yet, but am anxious to try it out. That or dinner at Nobu.
Digital Ethics and Etiquette
We live in a connected world, but do we need to be plugged in 24/7? And what should we teach our kids about digital etiquette? While there will be plenty of places to charge up devices and connect with free Wi-Fi at the show, we'll also be talking about unplugging. Randi Zuckerberg, who's had a front-row seat to the sea change in social culture, will be dishing out advice from her new book Dot Complicated. We'll be discussing all the new digital tools we have and how to manage them, not the other way around.
Designed for Women
With all these connected activity trackers and sensors vying for space on your wrist or body, what makes it something you actually want to wear in public? From connected health devices to headphones to smart watches and tablets, I'll be on the lookout for great products designed for women. Look for a number of companies to show fashion-friendly bracelets that double as your Dick Tracy smartwatch, and headphones that feel lighter on your head and ears.
We'll be talking about all these trends and trying out some of the latest products ourselves at MommyTech TV on the show floor. We'll be taking Twitter questions and want to hear from you.
Check back for some of the best videos from the show right here on Huffington Post Tech.
Follow Andrea Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andreasmith