Friday, January 11, 2013

Report from CES: 5 Predictions for Consumer Tech in 2013

Each year, thousands of tech-enthusiasts descend on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While CED didn't send a representative this year, a few of our members are on the conference floor, sharing their reports on the future of consumer technology. 

This report is filed by Keval Mehta, founder and CEO of Jaargon, the mobile-app company behind INRFOOD, the award-winning mobile application that helps individuals track the ingredients in their diet and make better, healthier decisions. 

We also asked Keval to make a few predictions about consumer technology coming down the road in 2013, and he's hit them spot-on. 

CED Team: What's up at CES? 

Mehta: CES has been an exciting show. This is my 3rd consecutive year attending the show, and I can see the innovations that were prototypes two years ago coming to full fruition now. One of the biggest things I've seen this year is that healthcare technology has progressed rapidly. To be more specific, wearable consumer devices and monitoring health technologies are being extremely well received. 

CED Team: How's this year different from last year, specifically with regards to healthcare technologies?

Mehta: Last year, healthcare technology companies occupied less than 20 small booths. This year, there are more than 60 companies and an entire section designated to healthcare tech. This includes everything from a fork that warns you if you are eating too fast to a device that you can use to determine if your fruit and or vegetables are organic (it is run entirely through mobile devices).

Of course, Fitbit, Nike+ FuelBand and other wearable monitoring devices are here at CES, but what I noticed is how personalized the data is getting. Devices and applications are now able to gather health data about you, specifically, and then return appropriate recommendations. This is, of course, what we do at INRFOOD, to help people make more informed choices about what they eat. 

CED Team: What else is going on at CES? We're betting there's a big focus on mobile this year...

Mehta: Mobile apps have been a big part of CES for the last few years. This year, there is an app for virtually every product. Last year I saw apps being developed for SmartTVs - this year there is an even larger push for that. The big change for this year is that FORD and GM have opened up mobile development for their vehicles. This is a huge game-changer, showcasing the potential opportunities of how apps will be accessible in the cars we drive. Another major place for applications is in home automation. This includes saving energy, security, or just simple monitoring. From lightbulbs, locks, robotic vacuums, and even thermostats, home automation applications are in full swing.  

CED Team: Home automation, eh? Are we talking about smart thermometers, refrigerators, lights, alarm systems?  

Home automation has really come to the masses. To install and wire all the equipment to have home automation capabilities has always really been reserved for the super wealthy. With new devices that can easily be "plugged" into the home and operated by mobile apps on your tablet or phone has really made it affordable and expansive as to what can be automated.

CED Team: Earlier this week, we saw a $20,000 TV. Seems like there's a big focus on the TV screen this year. What's up with that front? 

Mehta: TVs have made a huge jump in the past year, going from HDTV to Smart TV. Essentially, we're now seeing the result of the computer and TV fluidly and seamlessly integrating. 

TVs are now capable of an incredible array of definition and resolution. Remember when we couldn't imagine HDTV? And when it came out, regular TV just didn't look good anymore? 

Some companies are now making an even larger jump. There's now Ultra HDTVs, which offer up to four times the resolution of standard HDTVs. Sharp even makes a model that has an 8k resolution - or eight times the resolution of a standard HDTV. 

CED Team: Dang. Sign us up. 

Mehta: Let's just put it this way: a 1080-pixel HDTV sitting next to an Ultra HDTV looks blurry. It is such an incredible technology and will only get better. Another trend that is starting, is IPTV and the ability to utilize your mobile device in conjunction with your TV. Think of watching a football game and having all of the stats of the players instantly displayed on the screen and/or your mobile device. Think of watching different camera angles on your tablet in sync and all in real time.

CED Team: Yeah, it's pretty incredible. So you've seen a lot of technology on display. What can we expect from 2013? Any big innovations? Product launches? What predictions can you make for the CED community?

Mehta: Here's what I expect for consumer electronics in 2013: 
  1. Ultra HDTVs will come down in price. TV in general will move in the direction of higher resolution TVs (that really are computers) with some incredible content.  
  2. Healthcare Technology will be even bigger. This is a huge problem the country/world is facing and the healthcare space is finally embracing technology. This means there will be a ton of opportunities. (editors note: we're discussing this trend and the innovative opportunities at the CED Life Science Conference in February 2013). 
  3. Augmented Reality will be a growing trend. With Verizon and AT&T releasing their LTE network connection speeds, augmented reality is primed to grow rapidly in 2013.
  4. Faster, Smaller, Cheaper. Consumer products, particularly consumer devices, will be smaller, faster and cheaper as the efficiency of development increases.
  5. Apps set to explode. Apps are like websites in 1992. They are still in their infancy. Give developers a few more years and we'll see an explosion in what is truly capable. 

You heard it here first, folks. What are you most excited about, technology-wise, in 2013? 

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