The Consumer Electronics Show curtain raiser, dubbed CES Unveiled, offered a glimpse of consumer market trends and how small and midsized companies are leveraging emerging technologies to create variations on current products.
One unmistakable trend is the proliferation of devices using wireless (WiFi and Bluetooth) and sensors, along with gadgets designed to work with apps running on smartphones and tablets.
Click on the image below to see some of the latest devices that just might catch on with consumers this year.
PURE, which initially built its reputation by developing Internet radio, has added wireless HiFi adapters to WiFi and Bluetooth (shown, front) along with wireless speakers. Plug in the HiFi adapter, and the company claims you can transform a HiFi system into a multi-room audio system. PURE also introduced portable wireless speakers (shown, rear) with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The wireless speaker offers 360-degree sound (mono and stereo). WiFi can be used to stream synchronized audio to multiple wireless speakers in and outside the home.
To be honest, everything at this year's CES that is available to buy is way too over-priced. $80 for a connected stylus, $30,000 for a 4k TV, $350 for the latest LEGO Mindstorm, it's just too much. It is as bad as buying a Pepsi on the CES showroom floor, $5 to $7 for a 20oz bottle.
Is this a result of the prior recession or a sign that people are will to shell out the cash for novelty?
Actually, Cabe, I hate to bring politics to an engineering discussion but we may be detecting the onset of Hyperinflation...needing a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread. The Wikipedia article on hyperinflation contains no less than 40 examples of hyperinflation all over the world. "Causes: Hyperinflation occurs when there is a continuing (and often accelerating) rapid increase in the amount of money that is not supported by a corresponding growth in the output of goods and services." The assumption that it cannot happen in the United States is an exercise in hubris.
CES announces the arrival of new goods before increased demand and economies of scale in production costs can kick in. $80 for a wireless stylus, $350 for the new LEGO Mindstorms. Early adopters feel it first. Hang onto your hat when hyperinflation hits fuel and food... =\
Great gadgets, I especially like the Party in a Box, though the Ego cameras and the sleek-looking wireless speakers from Pure are quite cool as well. I think the high-tech scale would give me a bit more information than I'd like to know--I generally avoid human-weighing devices! And as an avid iPod listener when jogging or biking, any inovations in earphone technology are always welcome.
Indeed, some of the gadgets are innovative, but it also looks like a few are seeking to satisfy a need that I don't have. Some of the toys are definitely "something new", but not "the next big thing" by any standard that I would agree with. The health scale is quite interesting, but I didn't see how it can provide all of those outputs with only measuring weight and ambient carbon dioxide levels. Possibly I missed how that would allow calculating one's body mass index.
The flying device that can follow one's spouse is interesting, not because of that application but rather because of the claimed range and flying time. That does seem like a real advance, or perhaps some serious optomism, maybe?
I am inclined to agree that it seems like the stuff is overpriced, but then we need to remember that the show is aimed right at people with more money than sense, and those folks can easily be persuaded to part with money.
williamweaver, thanks for posting that Wikipedia article link. I've heard of this trend but had no idea it was this widespread or had progressed so far. Hubris is right, although I'm not sure what politics has to do with it--this is pretty straightforward economics.
Hi Ann... I'm a strong proponent of Free Market Capitalism in Economics, but I inject Politics because of the policies of the Federal Reserve Bank and its control over interest rates and the US Treasury and its decision to print more currency. Both have been making wildly poor decisions over the past decade and business and manufacturers have been innovating to buffer the effects of their poor policies, however, the economy is quickly running out of wiggle room. Hyperinflation is what happens when choice is squeezed out of the system and all that is remaining is command and control...
Some shows are about business. They are only for buyers and sellers-period. Other shows, especially CES today, are what I call Flagpole Shows. Using the old metaphor, items are hoisted up the flag pole to see who salutes.
Of course they're overpriced. They're prototypes or, in many cases, have moved beyond that stage but have not gone to production. As many mentioned here, the sales just aren't high enough to bring the prices down.
It's a great place to see new trends in the truest since. Trends move very slowly. Those who are attentive and patient can see the next big thing. The real trick is in knowing which company will be in the lead.
I think hyperinflation is one of the key economic exports of the US. The whole notion taught in schools that recession is followed by war followed by prosperity followed by peace, etc, is a false economic model. Peace brings on recessions? Only war can bring prosperity?
Unless we break that cycle, repeat hyperinflation is the future.
Apersher--I agree. This one seems to be the most beneficial and probably would be the one most used in our family. Junko, great post though. It's really fun to keep up with what's happening in these shows. I am sure the engineering staffs work long and hard coming up with new gadgets and novalities for these presentations. Let's hope they find a market for theri devices.
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