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CES ’14 Mirrored Today’s Tech Mosaic

The 2014 International CES is now one for the history books, and it should be remembered for a variety of reasons.

And, no, not because director Michael Bay stormed off the stage during the Samsung press conference because the teleprompter supposedly didn’t work, or the snow/ice storm that hit the Midwest and Northeast right before CES that created havoc for attendees’ flights.

The star of the show was technology, and this year’s CES mirrored today’s tech mosaic. That mosaic includes some tech that will actually be sold by traditional CE or electronics/appliance retailers vs. other technologies that will get in the hands of consumers by other means (driverless cars) or systems that will change everyone’s lifestyle (the “Internet of Things”), whether you want it to or not.

About the latter, it seems in the future “Big Brother,” (or the NSA if you like) may be watching, but he will be helped by “Big Refrigerator,” “Big Thermostat,” “Big Trash Can” or any other inanimate object in your home that is connected to the web — but more about all that at another time.

This CES was marked by the introduction or expansion of several up-and-coming technologies, and a few of them will be sold in stores and online by retailers, and will likely have an impact on overall sales and the bottom line this year.

They are, in no specific order: Ultra HD TV screens and camcorders; high-res audio components; wearable technology, including smart watches and health technology devices; and 3D printing.

CES was nothing if not a venue for major TV makers to expand their Ultra HD lines significantly, adding streaming services (notably LG and Samsung with Netflix), OLED versions, curved sets and Ultra HD camcorders for consumers to create their own 4K content.

High-resolution audio is being pushed – not only by audio hardware suppliers but by record companies – to entice consumers with demonstrations of the improved sound vs. the ubiquitous compressed MP3 audio that everyone is used to.

Smart watches may be the next big thing in mobile, with not only smaller companies jumping in early but larger brands as well. Wearable products, such as Sony’s SmartBand, which lets consumers log daily activities that use the Lifelog app, were hinted about by the company. We should know more about this and many other wearable products as the year progresses.

And, of course, there is 3D printing, represented by Maker- Bot’s CEO Bre Pettis (keynoter of the annual CES Leaders In Technology dinner), and by many other suppliers, which allows consumers and industrial designers quickly and cheaply design and build items and device models that formerly would have taken much more time and cash to do.

Looking at some of these initial products from the show reminded me of the first few video game consoles I covered at CES years ago. One wonders how 3D printing will evolve in the next 20 or more years.

The 2014 CES was a glimpse of the future, and its introductions should provide retailers with ideas and opportunities.