For the fifth consecutive year, a group of us from STG escaped the Michigan winter and headed to Las Vegas for CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. This year’s show was impressive as usual, and it was particularly interesting to explore with previous years in mind and watch how old trends have faded and new exciting ones have emerged.
In 2014, for example, virtual reality and other “immersive” innovations were some of the most exciting but least developed technologies around the floor at CES. Getting into one of the few actual demonstrations came with hours of waiting in line. This year, it seemed like every other booth was running a virtual reality demo just to show off their product that may or may not have had anything to do with VR itself. It’s amazing to see firsthand how quickly those technologies have developed.
Where “immersive” was a buzzword of CESes past, words like “smart” and the concept of the “internet of things” have taken its place. Whirlpool unveiled a fully integrated kitchen appliance system where the fridge keeps inventory and the microwave knows exactly how long to cook your burrito without you having to press a button. There seemed to be a smart version of everything, from smart planes and smart lawn mowers to smart pillows and smart backpacks. TVs keep getting smarter too, with apps like Netflix and Hulu built in to many of the newest models. The most impressive TV display, though, was LG’s. While we did see other manufacturers showing 8K models, the LG OLED 4K TV was striking with its stark black blacks and white whites.
The part that put the whole show into perspective was the CES 50th anniversary commemorative display. We got to see technologies that had been unveiled at CES through the years, including the first ever consumer laptop, introduced by Compaq in 1989, the first ever cell phones, introduced by Motorola in 1984 and dismissed as gimmicks at the time, and many other emblems of their day that made it clear just how far we’ve come. It’s hard to look at those ridiculously clunky cell phones and admit that in 33 years, all of the amazing things we saw this week will just be artifacts in a historical display too. But it’s an exciting time in the tech world, and for now we’re just happy to be a part of it!