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In anticipation of CES 2017, as the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world prepare to unveil their latest new products, CCS Insight provides some expectations, key themes and predictions relevant to the show.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
The Internet of Things has been a key buzz phrase at CES for the past two years. This year CCS believe that the key focus will shift to machine learning and artificial intelligence which will be prominent themes throughout the event. CCS predicts that ‘machine learning will overtake the Internet of things as a hot investment area in 2017’. The huge potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence will see numerous companies focusing on this space at CES.
CCS expects to see a wide range of smart speakers showcased at CES. These will build on the momentum seen in 2016 with the launch of Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home devices. “Success in the smart speaker market will be determined by the software platform, not the hardware,” cautions Martin Garner, Senior Vice President, CCS Insight. The real battleground will be the support for competing voice control systems such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, rather than any hardware differences.
CCS believes that smart speakers will kick-start the connected home market in 2017. The arrival of smart assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are expected to rekindle public interest in connected home devices and there will be a wealth of demonstrations at CES showcasing how consumer control smart thermostats, light bulbs and other devices using the speakers’ intuitive natural language interface.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual and augmented realities are poised to be major themes at CES. Companies targeting this opportunity need to build momentum after a slower than anticipated start in 2016. Expect numerous demonstrations at press conferences and on the exhibition floors with dedicated showcases allowing attendees to try out the latest and greatest experiences.
While virtual reality has primarily gravitated towards consumer applications, augmented reality is clearly targeting enterprise opportunities. CCS expects a number of announcements in this area from big companies as the technology improves and viable use cases emerge.
In support of the growing momentum around virtual reality and the ease with which 360-degree content can be shared via platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, CCS expects to see an avalanche of 360-degree cameras, particularly from the numerous Shenzhen-based companies attending CES. CCS also expects to see a manufacturer unveil a smartphone with an integrated 360-degree camera. This opportunist move will likely feature a smartphone that has a dual fisheye lens to capture “surroundie” pictures. If such a product appears it has the potential to be a big news story at CES. However, once the dust settles CCS believes it will remain a curiosity in a smartphone market which is still currently characterised by a lack of innovation.
Wearables have been a hot topic at CES over the last couple of years; however CCS Insight’s recently completed wearables survey indicates challenges remain for manufacturers targeting this segment. Full-touch smartwatches still lack a clear purpose and remain a solution looking for a problem.
On this basis, CCS believes that there will be a growing number of smart analogue watches on show at CES and those sales of smart analogue watches will outstrip those of Apple and Android-powered devices in 2018 as the appeal of touch-screen smartwatches with full electronic displays wane. Look out for big announcements from leading watchmakers such as Fossil.