Returning from the pit of despair.
If you're reading this, it's too late: CES 2016 has wrapped up and the tech evangelists and enthusiasts have packed up and shipped out from Las Vegas. But don't despair: Curbed will be providing post-mortem CES coverage this week—and covering smart home tech developments all year long—so that you know what what's on the horizon, . The show was a whirlwind (we hope you followed along on Snapchat!), and though there weren't any groundbreaking major announcements made, there weresome developments on the show floor. Here now, five trends that really caught fire at CES this year.
1. TVs continued to be the main draw of CES
Two words: Transparent screens. Tech behemoths like Panasonic andSamsung showed off such televisions, which seemed like real magic in a show overflowing with novel wares. Other novel viewing sets included a modular set with six rearrangeable sections and mirrored televisions for, we suppose, narcissists who want to watch the game. It's all good news for the aesthetics conscious among us, who have had to resort in the past to giant cabinets for hiding unsightly screens. Now, they disappear in plain sight.Though these futuristic screens are largely prototypes, they sound the bellwether of change in the industry.
2. Smart home systems abound…
French company Netatmo debuted a new monitoring product in its established smart home ecosystem called Presence, an outdoor security camera that keeps watch over your home with "people, car, and animal detection." Home security was a major theme at this year's show, with gadgets and gizmos aplenty claiming to help homeowners keep their families—and stuff—safe. Companies like Munich-based Elgato and Dallas'sSmanos also showcased new security systems, with cameras toutingincreased resolution and overall functionality, including in darkened rooms and at night.
3. …as did skepticism of the Smart Home.
Casey Smith, CEO of Lexington, Kentucky-based company—and winner of the best brand moniker award for all time—Big Ass Solutions (formerly Big Ass Fans) expressed deep skepticism with the present direction of smart home technology. "Our view of the smart home is that it's a sentient home that recognizes what you need and what you want to happen," Smith said at a panel hosted by CNET last Thursday afternoon. The single-app-controlled products that proliferate across the market don't impress Smith: "When I think of a smart home now, I start to wonder why my rice cooker needs to take directions from me from my phone when I'm in my office." Skepticism like Smith's is crucially important for the industry, and will keep it on a course that is actually about solutions for existing problems, rather than, as many rech folks at the show bemoaned, solutions for problems that don't exist.
4. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are vying for your smart home dollars
Amazon's Alexa system—a voice-activated, cloud-based assistant—was the sleeper agent of CES 2016. Though Amazon didn't have a booth at the show, its products and people were very much present. The company's Echo speaker debuted last June, but Amazon's voice assistant is now tied to other, third-party products, too. Our sister site the Verge has plenty more. Google,Microsoft, and Apple all made plays at dominating the smart home market: many companies, including Elgato, above, touted the Apple HomeKit compatibility of their products, Google reskinned humdrum Internet router, and Microsoft continued to unveil connected products for its Windows OS.
5. Voice activation may be the future of the smart home
This one seems like a no-brainer, but many of us use our voices already to communicate, and this would allow users to bypass single-product apps for controlling lights, security cameras, thermostats, and other smart home devices. No word yet on holistic solutions for those of us who use American Sign Language in their daily lives, and for whom voice activated technology is actually not a step in the direction of greater convenience.