As a serial attendee of CES, I eagerly look forward to the event each year because it truly is one of the most influential and informative trade shows. Obviously, the products showcased represent the latest in consumer electronics -- but to me, CES is about more than consumer electronics. It is about innovation. From the latest industrial design trends and the hottest innovations for brick-and-mortar retailers, to the latest innovations in e-commerce, CES is truly a showcase of some of the greatest (and not so great) thinking of billions throughout the world.
So in anticipation of the 2013 Consumer Electronics show in January, I have compiled a few notable trends that I am eagerly watching and expect will have a significant impact over the next 12 months. Of course, my trends are dominated by devices and services, but I expect some things beyond that.
mHealth is a fascinating area experiencing explosive innovation. mHealth is the mainstreaming of a movement called quantified self that started many decades ago, with a focus on electronic gadgets that collect information on the body, how it performs and how it feels. You can track your sleep with Zeo, measure your activity level with the Nike FuelBand or the Fitbit or even the re-tooled Jawbone UP, and ultimately track and improve your mood using a wide variety of websites and mobile apps. Expect to see even more products enter the market and don't be too surprised if you find yourself wearing one of the devices sometime soon. Once you start, it is hard to stop.
Another area of explosive innovation is the connected phone/tablet. Today, consumers can communicate and control all sorts of devices through a smartphone/tablet. For example, the smartphone can control your Samsung TV easily with the Samsung remote app (or any of the third party apps). In addition, consumers can carry their podcasts when traveling, as more and more cars now feature integrated Bluetooth functionality allowing a smartphone to truly become part of the car. Watching Netflix on a PS3? No problem. Control it remotely with the iPhone. But perhaps the most awesome connected device is the connected Snow Goggle, featuring a straight-from-SciFi-heads-up display. The connected phone/tablet is here in a way that the connected PC never was.
The smartphone and tablet figures are another area to watch with regard to the second/third screen space. I bet if you did a study, it would find that a large percentage of tablet/smartphone users are engaging with their devices while watching TV. Interactive TV has had a tough time gaining traction, and I think that this is because we were missing the second screen. Now we have second screen through smartphone/tablet devices. And while no one has yet to determine the best way to leverage the a second screen, plenty of brands and companies will be showcasing their apps at CES this year.
CES never ceases to amaze me. With an estimated 3,000 exhibitors, I'm always assured that there will be something that I miss, something that will amaze me and something that will truly wow me.
For me, CES serves an incredible incubator for innovation and a unique opportunity for any brand to set the tone for the coming year -- and any brand that chooses not to attend or at least follow the event, will be at a huge disadvantage.
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