The annual Consumer Electronics Show hosts so many technology companies debuting so many new products, it often provides a glimpse at the year in tech ahead. Below, Yahoo Tech writers share what they saw at the show, and what they see as some of the major tech storylines in 2015.
TVs Will Get a Little Sharper, and a Little Cheaper
Last year’s TV sets were all about 4K resolution, the next step after 1080p; CES 2015 was all about color quality, improving on 4K. Companies including Samsung and LG introduced new TVs using something called quantum-dot technology, which promises better and brighter images compared to traditional LCD TVs. That, in turn, will mean that 4K TVs will soon be available for lower prices than they previously had been.
Sharp also introduced improved 4K TV sets. (Reuters)
We also saw TVs running Google’s Android TV operating system, which means you can get Netflix and Hulu on your television without needing a separate gadget like a Chromecast or Roku. We’ll have to see just how well these systems work first, so don’t toss your streaming box or stick just yet. - Daniel Howley
Someone You Know and Love Will Buy a Selfie Stick
There was a time we thought smartphones with big screens were stupid. There was a time we thought tablets wouldn’t make it. There was a time it wasn’t clear if anyone needed high-definition television.
This will be someone you know in 2015. Maybe you! (Associated Press)
We are now living in a time of selfie stick skepticism. But the tremendous number of convention floor selfie sticks (which, as their name implies, aid in the taking of selfies) made something clear: These things are here to stay, at least for a little while. By the end of the year, you’re likely to pose for a photo taken by one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. - Jason O. Gilbert
Companies Will Push You to Hook Up Your Appliances to the Internet (Which Is Still Very Messy)
When Samsung acquired smart home startup Smart Things last August, it was clear the South Korean manufacturing giant was going all in on the Internet of Things (a general term for everyday devices that connect to and can be controlled by Internet devices).
In his CES keynote address, CEO BK Yoon left no doubt.
In two years, he declared, 95 percent of everything Samsung produced would become part of IoT. He announced he is opening up Smart Things code to the world, to encourage devices from different manufacturers – even hated rivals like LG — to communicate with Samsung’s. And a Smart Things-enabled “smart home” was the centerpiece of the company’s traditionally massive CES presence.
(Samsung’s Smart Things display at CES/Dan Tynan)
The bad news? Smart Things is just one of half dozen protocols for connecting various devices in our homes, none of which are on speaking terms. Qualcomm continues to push its open AllJoyn technology and promote the AllSeen alliance, which now includes more than 100 manufacturers. Elgato’s Eve was one of a handful of motion and weather sensors introduced at the show that work with Apple’s HomeKit. Lowes Hardware was at CES promoting its own proprietary smart home solutions like Iris. Startups like smart mattress company Luna are relying on open source libraries like If That Then This to create scripts for making devices work together.
In short, the Smart Home still isn’t smart enough. But there is hope. Keen Home, which makes smart heating vents that let you control the temperature in every room of your house, is building in compatibility with several competing protocols — including Smart Things, HomeKit, Iris, Wink, and IFTTT — and is working on becoming certified under Google’s Works With Nest program by the time its products are available in mid 2015.
That approach may be what it takes to finally raise your home’s IQ. - Dan Tynan
Drones Will Fly Higher
It used to be that people were excited by the prospect of flying a drone, taking pride in the hours they put into mastering its delicate balance in the air. But no longer! Judging from the latest line of consumer drones, it seems the gadget is not meant to be a toy, but merely a vehicle for epic aerial footage of your awesome city, vacation, or TGI Fridays meal.
To wit: A French company named Hexo+ debuted the first autonomous drone at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. No need to play pilot, it’s programmed to follow and film you hands-free for about 15 minutes at a time. Just press a few buttons on an app, choose the angle you want to be filmed at, and the rest is taken care of.
We also saw the unveiling of DJI’s Inspire 1 drone, the very first mini-aircraft to haul a high-def 4K camera. And if you need more proof that drones are becoming an extension of humans egos, look no further than the Nixie. As the very first wearable drone, it latches on to your wrist, so that at any moment in time you can throw it in the air, like a boomerang, strike a pose, and it’ll snap a picture of your mug and fall back into your hands. If that’s not a robot servant. I don’t know what is. - Alyssa Bereznak
Say Goodbye to Dumb Cars
Each year CES becomes more and more like a car show, and this year cars dominated more than ever. We saw everything from new gesture control infotainment systems from BMW and Volkswagen to an Audi that comes with its own tablets.
Volkswagen unveiled its Golf R Touch concept, which brings gesture control into the automobile. (CNET)
And let’s not forget the slew of self-driving vehicles from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Not only can those automakers’ cars drive on their own — Audi drove one of its cars from San Francisco to Las Vegas without a driver — they can also be summoned via a smartwatch app. Based on what we’ve seen, the future of transportantion is arriving right about now. - Daniel Howley
The Little Guy Continues to Rise
For me, the most intriguing gadgets and new tech weren’t made by the big companies. Samsung and Sony and LG impressed; smaller firms simply dazzled. I wrote earlier about the rise of French entrepreneurs, as an Internet-connected, fitness-focused “smart belt” proved to be one of the most discussed gadgets of the entire show. Meanwhile, provocative and must-have gadgets continued to pour forth from crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, including a slew of spins on the skateboard and roller skates; frustrated entrepreneurs who don’t see the gadgets they want are going out and inventing them, reaping big paydays and approval from the connected masses.
An attendee tries Acton’s RocketSkates at the 2015 International CES. (Getty Images)
CES may have once been a show dominated by multinational, multibillion corporations with enormous R&D labs, but the scene, and our interest, is becoming increasingly fragmented. The world is getting flatter –– which is great, because that’ll be easier for all the motorized skateboards. - Jason Gilbert
Small Things Will Continue to Make a Big Difference
Sure, 4K (and 8K) televisions are brilliant. And live demos of gesture-based infotainment consoles in cars can make for great press. But CES made clear that the small, thoughtful (and affordable) innovations that look to improve your life will continue to be made (and continue to find an audience).
EasyApp Stick. (YouTube/MyScreen)
FINsix was in Vegas this year to show off and promote the preorder of its break-through Dart mini charger for laptops, which will replace the weighty bricks that we’re all forced to lug around now. I stopped by Matias’s booth to try out a newer, more ergonomical version of its Quiet Pro keyboard, billed as “the world’s quietest mechanical keyboard”; roommates and/or loved ones of writers can surely appreciate this novelty. And we’ve all tried (and failed) to carefully attach one of those screen protectors to our smartphones before, so it shouldn’t be hard to see why I think the new (patent-pending) fool-proof EasyApp Stick from MyScreen is such a great idea.
None of these are the invention of the lightbulb. But third-party companies continue to refine and improve upon the accessories and add-ons that have been familiar for years. And that’s good news for everyone. - Daniel Bean