CES 2014 – Top Ten List

2014 is going to be a big year for tech as evidenced by the new products and innovations introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last week.

I just got back from CES 2014 and after walking the two million square feet of show floor  here’s my top ten list of what’s new, what’s next and what I never saw coming.

1.) 4K Ultra HD Curved TVs:  They’re big, they’re beautiful and they’re curved. The primary reason for attending CES 2014 was to check out the new 4K Ultra HD TVs and they are amazing.  I expected to see crystal clear lifelike resolution but what I didn’t anticipate was seeing Curved TVs and flexible TVs which go from FLAT to CURVED at the touch of a button. 

It’s too early to say if Curved TVs are a gimmick but 4K UHD is here to stay and unlike 3D TV, Ultra HD will become the new display resolution standard in the coming years.

2.) Connected Home:              The connected home will become a reality in 2014 driven by wireless technologies such as Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave and ZigBee.  The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow integrating more devices in the home including  light bulbs and switches, thermostats and HVAC controls, garage doors and locks, fridge, stove, washer, dryer and all other appliances.  Energy conservation and management continues to increase in importance to home owners as a way to control consumption and decrease costs.

3.)  Headphones:  Headphones of every kind and at price point are everywhere.  Smart phones are now the number one way we listen to music and media, CE manufactures are making products to personalize the sound from your smart phone.  BEATS headphones by Dr. Dre seems to be the market leader in this category but hundreds of others innovate to capture a piece of this lucrative accessory market.

4.) Portable Speakers:  While headphones are all about personal listing,  portable speakers and increasingly weather resistant rugged speakers have become another emerging trend.  Remember the days of the Ghetto Blaster.  Portable battery powered speakers are today’s BOOM BOX and most offer wireless bluetooth connectivity, rechargeable batteries and even cell phone USB charging ports.

5.) SoundBars:  The Soundbar category will continue to be strong and grow in 2014.  Consumers continue to demand larger, flatter, thinner TVs yet somehow expect the sound quality of the built in speakers to match the picture quality of the display.   For 2014 LG has come up with an ingenious new TV design which integrates the TV speakers into the stand essentially making the stand a mini sound bar.  New super thin and small sound bars were also displayed at LG and Samsung’s booth.

6.)  Whole Home – Lifestyle Music Systems:  Sonos is the market leader in the Streaming Media whole house audio category however LG, Samsung, Panasonic have all introduced products at CES this year to challenge Sonos in this space.  In September 2013 Russound also introduced their X-Stream product for custom integrators and NuVo, Mirage and Bose also have streaming whole home audio systems.  Apple TV can also be used as an audio streaming device through airplay along with receivers from Denon, Marantz and Pioneer which come with Airplay built in. Sonos will continue to be the market leader in this space for the considerable future but it will be interesting to watch if any of the BIG 4 Japanese manufacturers can capture some market share from Sonos.  Based on the Apple iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy battle, I’ll give Samsung the best shot at it.

7.)  Wearable Tech:  Wristbands, Smart Watches, and every form of wearable smart sensor is being developed to monitor our activity level, heart rate, temperature, calories burn and consumed and GPS location.  Wearable tech is a rapidly emerging market and will become increasingly popular in 2014.

8.)  Health Tech:  Along with wearable tech is another growing trend called Health Tech.  You name the health condition and you can bet someone has a smart sensor, app or wearable device to help you monitor it.  Smart scales, glucose monitors, EKG, heart rate and temperature monitors even sensors to track asthma and breathing disorders as our population ages the demand for this products will grow.

9.)  Mommy Tech:  We’ve all heard the term helicopter parent we’ll for 2014 technology has taken the monitoring of our children to a whole new level.  Traditionally mommy tech referred to baby intercoms and perhaps video cameras but at CES I saw several GPS and Bluetooth trackers that can be used to track and monitor the location of your child or family pet.  There are electronic toothbrushes which pair to cell phones informing you when and how long your child brushed their teeth and even if they brush too hard or soft.  Another interesting device, a smart sensor which fits inside your baby’s sleeper or one-zee and monitors heart rate and temperature sending alerts to your smart phone if something is wrong.

10.)  3-D Printing:  3-D Printing received a lot of hype and occupied a lot of show floor space at CES this year.  Is 3-D printing cool? … Absolutely, will it become mainstream?  Not for the foreseeable future.  3-D printing will become more affordable in 2014 as cheaper printers and scanners enter the market and the cost of consumables lessens.  The real market for 3-D printing is small engineering and design companies who currently have to outsource their modeling needs.  For 3-D printing to become a truly consumer product like a color ink jet printer/scanner, 3-D printing will have to be color and cheaper, simpler and less complex than it is today.

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