CES 2016: from high flying to cool riding

CES 2016 hoverboard drones fitbit virtual reality

The Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, is back. It is usually the first big technology-driven event to happen each year and it never fails to generate a big buzz. CES is also a good indicator of what trends in technology will be emerging in the months to come. We’ve taken the time to read up on what trends will be making an appearance at this year’s CES and presented them to you in easy-to-find categories – some of which, as you will see, is simply a continuation of 2015’s trends.

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality has yet to catch on in mainstream markets mainly due to accessibility issues and high costs. However, this year might see the start of the VR revolution amongst everyday consumers. Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC and Valve’s Vive, and Sony Playstation’s VR is set to make waves in the coming months. At CES we will likely get to know more about these immersive experiences, also when they will be released, and most importantly how much they will cost. Speaking of cost, many affordable but low-end cardboard and DIY versions (like Google Cardboard) are already available. However, the experience they provide may not be the same as that of the high-end versions.

It is unlikely that Facebook, Sony and HTC will be making big VR announcements at the event aside from release dates. On the other hand, this will open the door for smaller companies to showcase what they have to offer such as virtual reality gloves, vests, headphones and other accessories.

An exciting development in the VR market is the combination of drones and virtual reality. This means that soon you will be able to feel like you are viewing the world from the perspective of a drone, steering the gadget to places you will likely not be able to experience by yourself.

Connected cars

It seems like the majority of exhibitions and talks at CES will be car-related, with a particular focus on electric cars. This year some of these exhibitors will include Audi, Ford, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.

Apple CarPlay, Google’s Android Auto and Ford’s SYNC AppLink have already been making it easier for recently-released cars to become connected. These systems make it possible for the installation of in-car apps, Internet access, and the ability to communicate with other cars and road signs.

Self-driving systems are set to be all the rage at this year’s event with rumours of a collaboration between Ford and Google in the creation of a self-driving car. A Chinese-funded, Californian-based company by the name of Faraday Future is planning on releasing their own “Tesla killer”, in a bid to grab a slice of the popular electric vehicle (EV) market. (Tesla’s luxury EV has become hugely successful in a very short time, outselling all other EV competitors in its class.)

Furthermore, General Motors will be showing a production version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric car which will sell alongside the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Both will be on the market during the first half of 2016.

Wearables

Wearables seem to be gearing up for mass adoption in 2016. It is estimated that around 110 million second- and third-generation wearables are going to hit the stores in upcoming months. Wearables can be found in the form of jewellery, clothing and watches, and can track your mood, activity, and even your pet’s movement. This is all made possible through sensors, Bluetooth, cloud computing, flexible membranes, 3D printing, and more.

Companies like Jawbone, Garmin, Basis, and top activity tracker, Fitbit, all seem likely to introduce new wearable gadgets to the public at CES. Aside from new releases, wearables will also get much-needed updates regarding battery life, security risks, electro-magnetic radiation, and electrostatic sensitivity.

Drones

Despite the fact that drones have been increasingly restricted with regards to where they can be flown, they have become more popular than ever before. At CES 2015 there were only four drone-related exhibitors. In 2016, there will be over twenty-five! The organizers of CES has cleared 25,000 square feet specifically for exhibitors to showcase their drones. This space clearance sees an increase of 200%, clear proof that drones has gained in popularity tremendously.

Some of the new models will include 4K cameras for high-definition video capture, support for HDR (High Dynamic Range), and dynamic contrast features. Other new features will include drones that are controlled with virtual reality headsets or equipped with VR lenses as well as the ability to shoot 360-degree videos.

Alternative modes of transportation

Hoverboards may not be able to hover as their name implies (or as we’d wish they would), but they have become immensely popular modes of transport for the coolest of the cool people. There is no doubt that there will be many startups punting their own hoverboard versions, including foldable versions and portable batteries for recharging.

There are, however, plenty of safety issues cropping up surrounding the usage of hoverboards with incidences of them spontaneously catching fire. But this has not marred the image of the hoverboard, nor dampened people’s enthusiasm for this gadget.

Apart from the obvious hoverboards, other types of transport are also getting a revamp to be showcased at CES 2016. A company by the name of Gogoro is releasing an electric scooter that doesn’t need to be stopped to be charged, it uses interchangeable batteries. Other exciting previews include hoverboards that can carry passengers and so-called smart bikes.

Oddly enough, despite the excitement surrounding these new types of personal transport, the CES organizers have banned visitors from using wheeled devices such as hoverboards, skateboards, Segways and uniwheels.