CES is a crazy place full of crazy people showing off crazy things. It’s fun but tiring, hectic but interesting. More importantly, it’s a barometer — it sets the tone for consumer tech for the rest of the year. So, what caught our eye? What are the ten trends we saw at the show that will shape consumer tech in 2017? Read on to find out.
1) Machine learning is eating the world
Machine learning was everywhere at CES — from drones to cars to phones to AI assistants to wearables to IoT. We’ve known for years that it’s faster to teach a computer by example than by programming a set of complex rules, but now we finally have the computing power to make it happen efficiently and affordably. For example, it’s easier to tell a self-driving car what an ambulance looks like by showing it thousands of pictures of ambulances than to try to define what makes an ambulance different from another vehicle (ed. note: like how humans learn! Uh-oh.). Machine learning now allows your drone to recognize its environment, lets your phone understand your usage habits, powers Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana’s smarts, and enables your router to detect malware before it infects your security camera.
2) Consumer VR and AR are going mobile
VR has been popular with gaming enthusiasts through last year, and thanks to Pokémon Go, AR is finally going mainstream. But, for the average consumer, tethered home VR rigs like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift are still user-unfriendly and expensive, and AR is limited by sensor accuracy and computing power. For the first time at CES, VR and AR are truly going mobile without sacrificing performance thanks to chips like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, which launched with ODG’s R-8 and R-9 smartglasses, and products like Asus’ Zenfone AR, a normal-sized phone that supports both Google Daydream and Project Tango.