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CES 2016 Kicks Off With CTA’s Trends To Watch

Here we go again!

CES 2016, which will be the largest CES in the show’s 49-year history, held its official kick-off with the Consumer Technology Association’s Shawn DuBravac’s annual “Trends to Watch” presentation on Monday in Las Vegas.

DuBravac, CTA’s chief economist, told a packed Mandalay Bay crowd the trends he expects attendees will see at the show. All of them aid in what DuBravac hailed as the changing of the guard from an analog to a digital world.

Among this year’s anticipations:

Ambient Sensing: Whereas sensors were once primarily used in the background of technology (such as airbag), we can expect to see them deployed in non-traditional ways. For example, Whirlpool is launching a dishwasher that will communicate with a Nest thermostat, allowing consumers to run the dishwasher when they aren’t home, or have it run when energy costs are at the lowest point of the day.

“We expect 20,000 new products at CES, “said DuBravac, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if 15,000 embed some type of sensor, if not all 20,000.”

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Aggregated Learning: The smart home and how it ties into our digital devices will continue to redefine the recommendations we receive from our technology. So rather than receiving use-case suggestions based on past history, we can expect devices to take our current environments into account.

So if my shades are drawn and the lights are low, DuBravac theorized, Netflix may recommend a Nicholas Sparks movie to correlate with his mood.

Driverless cars also fell beneath the aggregated learning umbrella. With nine out of the top 10 automakers exhibiting in more than 200,000 square feet of CES 2016, yes, this category has become a bit of a show-within-a-show. DuBravac predicted we will see fully autonomous vehicles by 2020, with 1 million units sold by 2030. By 2045, half of all cars sold may be fully autonomous, he added.

The third trend, the Maturing of Nascent Categories, was nearly its own book of trends, which DuBravac said will influence growth in the tech industry going forward. Among these categories is virtual reality, which he said we can expect to have implications in entertainment and commercial applications. For example, consumers will be able to “walk” around a cruise ship to investigate cabin sizes before booking a trip.

The industry is also seeing growth in 4K, he said, noting that 7 million 4K TV units were estimated as sold in the U.S. in 2015, which is up 400 percent vs. the year before.      

Wearables, drones and the smart home will also continue to broaden.