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Expected CES 2016 novelties, gadgets and innovations

In Op-Ed, Tech by Viv0 Comments

CES 2016, one of the biggest consumer electronics conventions of the year, is just around the corner and exhibitors are already readying their new products for display. The show is kicking off on January 6 in Las Vegas and last throughout January 9. While a few companies like Samsung have already taken the wraps off of products they will be demoing at CES 2016, others are keeping their innovative new gadgets and technologies a secret until the show floors open. There will be hundreds of small and large companies participating in the exhibition oriented towards tech innovators and consumers alike, so there are a lot of new gadgets that we can look forward to. These gadgets will most likely have an impact on the consumer technology market during the rest of the year, but some might not make it past the show floors in terms of popularity and engagement. We’ve got a hold of a few reports and rumors detailing the new products and technologies that we expect to see unveiled at CES 2016 and analyzed their possible impact on the consumer market.

CES 2016 or the International Consumer Electronics Show aims to bring together companies from all around the world to showcase their latest inventions and innovations that they plan to revolutionize the consumer market with. Whether their products become innovations or fade into history unnoticed depends on their technology, degree of innovation, practical implications, user engagement, pricing and unfortunately, brand awareness of consumers. Many companies join the CES 2016 expo to gain some popularity and exposure in the eyes of consumers, but few actually manage to gather enough attention to be able to skyrocket themselves towards popularity. They will, however, make use of the exposure and demo experiences they offer to consumers in future development and even though their CES 2016 products might remain unknown, they will no doubt participate in the next conference with more confidence and experience.

We’ve picked a handful of CES 2016 exhibitions that we know about and a few reports and rumors from the world to bring to you a few products and technologies that might revolutionize the way in which we interact with technology and gadgets. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of new products at the show and each is worth checking out, but these are a few of the ones that seem to have potential in the current market and might become an important part of tech history in the coming years. What are you looking forward to when it comes to CES 2016 exhibitors and participants?

Virtual reality

One of the most important genres within tech that we should keep an eye on this year is virtual reality. CES 2016 will be a new nest for development in VR, and Samsung is leading the way. The South Korean company has already announced that they would be demoing their newest innovations in VR, namely the Samsung Gear VR Rink, which is a motion controller that aims to improve the way in which we interface through the Gear VR headset to the games and apps made for VR from Samsung phones. Rink will apparently be a simply designed motion controller that is supposed to slip onto your palms and provide with some kind of motion controls for games played with the Gear VR. At the same time, Samsung’s announcement of Rink also unveiled a possible optical- or processing unit that might become available for the Gear VR headset after CES 2016 is over. The company has only spoken about the controller and has not yet detailed what purpose the peculiar box atop the Gear VR headset serves. However, they have confirmed that we would be seeing innovative new VR gear at their CES 2016 show, so we’ve only a couple of days to wait and see.

HTC and Valve are also going to be in the VR section at CES 2016 with their late HTC Vive Oculus Rift competitor. Although HTC had vowed last year to release the headset by the end of 2015, they didn’t make their deadline. However, the company disclosed that they didn’t launch Vive because of a tech breakthrough the team made, which they wanted to incorporate into the new gadget. Unfortunately, neither HTC or Valve offered any information on the nature of the breakthrough, so we’re on our toes with excitement. Rumors suggest that the headset would come forth with new wireless technology or an entirely new input and interfacing method, which sounds pretty interesting. CES 2016 is said to become ground zero for true VR innovation, but we’re skeptical until we actually test the gadgets these companies are aiming to bring to the show.

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Oculus Touch motion controllers for the Oculus Rift, expected to demo at CES 2016

Speaking of the Oculus Rift, CES 2016 might also become its launching pad this year. Although Facebook and Oculus had been trying to bring the VR headset to consumers for a while now, the time finally seems to have come. Oculus announced earlier in 2015 that the Rift is on track to be launched in the first quarter of 2016 and that inevitably corroborates with the company’s presence at CES 2016. Unfortunately, the latest reports suggest that while the Oculus Rift headset is most likely going to go up for pre-order soon enough, its Oculus Touch controllers will not be launched until later in the year. Nonetheless, we expect to see them in action, at least in some sort of prototype format, at CES 2016. Fortunately, the partnership Oculus has with Microsoft will provide early Oculus Rift adopters with Xbox One controllers as a means of interfacing and controlling the VR headset, which is good enough in my mind.

Sony’s Project Morpheus, which hasn’t been in the limelight for a while now, is also expected to finally appear at CES 2016, although the Japanese company might have other VR-related surprises up its sleeve, too. Seeing as the recently launched Sony Xperia Z5 Premium comes with a beautiful 4K display that many can’t take advantage of, the company is expected to launch a counter to Samsung’s Gear VR that would turn the pricey handset into a multipurpose entertainment device soon enough. Although Project Morpheus for the PlayStation and for PC is pretty much a sure thing for CES 2016, we can’t say the same about the smartphone-compatible headset. Rumors are plentiful and descriptive enough, but the company has not yet spoken about what uses they want to introduce for the 4K display of the Xperia Z5 Premium.

GoPro is also expected to delve into the 360-video subgenre of VR with new camera technology and Arkamys have already unveiled a bit about their new VR audio recording project that aims to bring audio up to the speed of VR imagery. Better late than never, right? As you have probably guessed by now, VR will be a very important part of CES 2016 this year and will most likely prove how much the field has progressed in a mere year, but we can’t vouch for that until we actually see the new products at the show. One thing we know for sure: immersion is headed towards a new, exciting level this year.

Smarter, safer vehicles

People around the web are raving about how CES 2016 will be an auto-show more than a tech show because the two fields are now undoubtedly intertwined. However, cars won’t be the only vehicles that are going to be getting new designs and new features meant to improve user experience, save the planet or enhance connectivity. While smart cars, autonomous cars, and perceptive new dashboard technology is definitely going to be the highlight of the “auto-show” part of CES 2016, we also expect companies to bring forth new ideas and new technologies for the improvement of bike, scooter, hoverboard and segway traffic in the world. With the increasing interest towards electric vehicles and healthier travel and commute options, we’re definitely expecting to see more affordable and more innovative bicycles, motorcycles, hoverboards, scooters, segways and even unicycles. With the sheer volume of transportation technology available nowadays to manufacturers, there’s no doubt some of them thought about the more eco-conscious and active people in the world, who are more inclined towards smaller, more practical options like bikes rather than heavy, cumbersome cars.

One interesting development in this field is that CES 2016 has banned use of hoverboards on the show floor, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect to see new types of hoverboards to be displayed. On the contrary, the fire hazard that current models pose is exactly the reason why we need a rethought version of the hoverboard that might not get banned from every venue and airport as soon as it is launched. Although we’re not sure what to expect, there’s a distinct possibility of a new hoverboard being demonstrated at the show, possibly one with alternative power sources that replace the dangerous lithium-ion batteries current models use. Segway is going to be showing off their scooter-hoverboard hybrid with a seat, but that might not be the only thing they’re bringing to CES 2016.

COBI and their smart interfacing technology are also coming to CES 2016 with the promise of innovating the way in which we perceive smart bikes, electric or not. The company has not yet detailed the gadgets and software that they will be demoing at the show, but we’re definitely in for something every cyclist will be glad to learn about. Turning bikes smart is definitely not a novelty, but COBI promises to change the way in which we interact with our bikes, especially if they’re electric ones. A biker myself, this one is definitely interesting. The company might also introduce more cost-effective methods of turning conventional bikes into electric bikes capable of long commutes, which is another interesting aspect we’re curious about. Arcimoto and Inboard are also planning to unveil new transportation devices and other, smaller companies are also going to introduce their own vision of how people should practically commute in the future. With emphasis on cost-effective and energy-effective solutions, we’re bound to see some new transportation devices that we might not have even imagined in the past. Arcimoto is going to introduce at least one vehicle, a three-wheeled cart while Inboard is going to introduce at least one new electric skateboard made for commutes and long rides.

Of course, one of the new strong-points of CES 2016 will still be cars, autonomous cars, and smarter dash systems. The partnership between Google and Ford will finally come out of the closet and the two companies are going to reveal what kind of smart car they’re building and what stage development is at. Volkswagen is also going to reveal a self-driving car, although the interest in the company has significantly decreased and we don’t expect much interest in their new vehicle for now. They’re apparently working on turning the tide and fixing their mistakes, but the deed is done. Hopefully, them delving into electric vehicles and autonomous cars will help them climb out of the pit they’re in with environmentalists at least. BMW, Kia, Toyota, Daimler-Benz, Chevrolet, Audio, Fiat Chrysler, and Hyundai are also expected to reveal a few innovative new technologies and cars, some of them working on their own autonomous vehicles for a while now. Although the world no longer has space for more cars and our roads are increasingly congested and filled with pollution, for some reason, cars are most important at CES 2016. Forgive the subjective tone on this one, but I’m definitely on the side of bikes and scooters and other, smaller vehicles that can be just as practical, especially in urban environments – I don’t see the purpose of cars, especially with the Hyperloop coming soon. I digress. CES 2016 is going to be part auto-show, part consumer electronics – but you won’t be seeing me anywhere near the cars. If you want to find out more about cars at CES 2016, I recommend reading this.

Mobile technology

Smartphones, wearables, and accessories are definitely going to be another big part of CES 2016, with hundreds of companies prepping innovative new gadgets and software meant to revolutionize the way in which mobile technology and humans interact. Last year, wearables and IoT were the highlights of CES, and this year should be no different. Many companies, such as Samsung, have already detailed what kind of connected IoT devices they will be introducing to consumers at the show, but others have remained silent and chose to surprise everyone on the show floors. I think that we cannot possibly guess what kind of connected devices CES 2016 will see unveiled, since the possibilities are endless and anything can be enhanced with a wireless connection nowadays.

Samsung might come with the biggest surprise of the year to CES 2016, seeing as rumors of the company switching things up with release cycles and marketing strategies suggest an early Galaxy S7 release date. There have been many rumors and reports suggesting that the South Korean giant is going to omit hosting a new Unpacked event this year and go by way of CES 2016 to launch their flagship of the year. These claims are supported by rumors of a more restricted device family and by the company’s presence at the show. Although these are mainly rumors, we do expect the company to adopt a few different strategies this year in order to improve sales of their flagship devices. There are many people looking forward to the Galaxy S7 and while the features it will eventually carry are uncertain, we’re hopeful that the company will innovate and that we’ll be able to see at least an early prototype of the device at CES 2016.

At the same time, Samsung is also going to demo a new call accessory and a smart belt, as per their announcement earlier this week. Alongside the new Rink controller, Samsung has also announced that they would be unveiling the Welt, a smart belt oriented towards health and fitness tracking features and TipTalk, a smart accessory compatible with any kind of watch that would allow callers to listen to audio by merely touching their fingers to their ears. These interesting concepts come out of Samsung’s Creative Labs department and constitute the team’s first devices to go to the consumer market. In their announcement, Samsung cautioned that these are experimental devices, but that they are revolutionary in their fields. We really  can’t wait to test them, especially the Welt smart belt, which sounds like a more balanced fitness tracking option than a wristwatch.

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Samsung, LG, and Intel will also focus on home improvement and smart home technology at CES 2016, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this time. Although most of the appliances and devices in our homes can already be smartified, as it were, we’re sure these companies have a few entirely new things prepped for the CES 2016 expo next week. Wearables, appliances, bulbs, switches and software are expected to be the highlights of the show and will prove that advancements in technology and IoT have come far enough so that we can really imagine a home that is entirely smart, from top to bottom. Considering Tesla’s power wall which can power an entire home off the grid using solar panels and a charging wall filled with batteries, we’re definitely getting really close to that ideal.

Headphones, smartphones, and tablets will also be present at CES 2016, although there’s little hype around these nowadays. Most people expect to see the same old same old gadgets with refined components and design, but few expect innovation to be a headliner in the smartphone, tablet or headphone industry. Nonetheless, audiophiles are certainly going to get their fill seeing as companies like Sennheiser and Audio Technica are going to be there, showing off their newest headphones and wireless devices made specifically for audiophiles. Huawei is also going to be a major CES 2016 exhibitor and we expect the Chinese company to finally get its kickstart on the American consumer market with a portfolio of new products that cater to American trends and preferences. Other smartphone manufacturers are also going to demonstrate new devices, but we expect them to keep the juicy stuff for dedicated events, as it is customary. Save for Samsung, who our sources tell us is going to disrupt with the Galaxy S7 this time – we don’t know if we should believe that, though. Here’s to hoping.

Viv

I believe tech and its place in our society is a process that will forever be in development, as long as we look to science. It's important that we keep track of what's going on and what we can access. There are new technologies being implemented everyday, and the more we know, the better.

Care to share your thoughts?