Sands Hall CES 2017
- Michael Dowd, Director, Search Technologies, GroupM
2017: Shifting Sands
The Sands Hall will provide its usual world of wonders at CES. A wealth of device innovation ranging from the future of personal manufacturing to new delivery systems for sound, healthcare devices and personal robots that remove the mundane tasks from our lives. Innovation designed to make our lives easier, including the latest attempts to remove the various charging cables that keep us ‘plugged in’.
The years of cyclical hype and disappointment with 3D-printed trinkets is nearing an end, as printers become cheaper, stronger, and more flexible. Driven by growth in education and small businesses, companies like Airwolf 3D and XYZprinting are making consumer-grade printers that are now capable of printing in carbon fiber, metal composites, and rubber polymers, significantly increasing the versatility of applications for consumers. The massively successful Kickstarter project, Glowforge, put a new spin on the industry with their 3D laser printer that can carve and etch designs in a variety of materials, including leather and wood.
Fitbit will maintain its strong presence in the Sands Hall, and while their recent acquisition of Pebble hints at a strong push into the smartwatch industry in the near future, their booth is likely to focus on their latest entries into the fitness band market – the Flex 2 and Charge 2. The Flex 2 builds on the industry’s trend toward customizability, with a detachable tracker, while the Charge 2 is aimed squarely at athletes with its native heart rate monitoring. While they continue to build out their lineup, startup Coros is targeting bikers with its new helmet that incorporates bone conduction technology to play Bluetooth-powered music without blocking the ear canal, allowing the rider to listen for potential danger on the road.
Uncoupled wireless technology, innovated by several companies including Energous and WiTricity, allows devices to be charged at distances of meters, not centimeters, away from charging beacons, allowing consumers to passively charge their devices. Meanwhile, companies like EnOcean are advancing the idea of energy harvesting that collects energy out of basic ambient sources, like air pressure, light, and temperature gradients to power Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. This will fundamentally change the way that consumers engage with the IoT, making the collection of data a continuous and passive process that will increase data integrity and reduce friction.
The diversity and accuracy of connected health devices continues to grow year-over-year, as a trend that was once relegated to smart scales and pulse oximeters matures into a medical-grade movement for improved consumer health data. Bewell Connect is consistently at the forefront of these innovations, and this year they bring MyECG, a handheld echocardiogram that weighs only 70 grams. After winning accolades throughout 2016, the device is finally preparing for release.
Some of the most compelling advances in connected health come from the sleep technology sector, as companies work to create less intrusive, more consistent data about personal sleep health. Beddit is bringing their paper-thin tracker that slides under your bedsheet to track movement, increasing comfort compared to wearable devices, while minimizing disruption.
Segway moves into the Sands Hall in a big way with two booths, capitalizing on a reemergence in consumer interest in personal mobility devices. Hopefully, they will have the One S1 single-wheel vehicle on display – a new, edgier direction for the company that is not for the faint of heart. Seven Dreamers Labs remains the great wildcard of Sands Halls, a company known for bringing outrageous prototypes to the show, such as the Laundroid laundry folding robot displayed last year. It remains to be seen whether they can match the hype of last year, but look for upgrades and formal launch announcements for the Laundroid.
These are but a single cross-section of the innovations on display at the Sands Hall this year, as it remains the one-stop shop of CES for those looking for emerging technology trends in their transition from start-up to mainstream. From 3D printing to wireless power to smart home, these industries are on the verge of a breakout as they turn promising hardware into something truly meaningful for both the consumer and the brands that understand their impact.