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At CES 2016, it’s what you can’t see that matters

by Todd Haselton | January 8, 2016

CES 2016 Booth Samsung-5

CES is changing in a really unique way. The show might still be well known for a place to see the latest and greatest television sets, incredible new tech like drones and the newest car audio systems, but it isn’t so much about what you actually see on the show floor that matters anymore. Instead, it’s about what you can’t see.

I hate the buzz phrase “Internet of Things” so I promise just to use it just that once, and I only to use it to make a point. See, these “things” have always been at CES: the TVs, the fridges, the phones, the laptops, the tablets. This year, though, the tech isn’t just about those new products, it’s the things you can’t see in them: the chips that enable them to talk to one another, to connect everything.

HTC and Under Armour unveiled scales and fitness bands this year which, really, who cares, right? Nobody cares about a wearable or a scale, but we do care about the app that the incredible technology that Under Armour and HTC built into these gadgets that allow us to monitor our weight, the steps we’ve taken, the workouts we’ve completed, our sleep patterns and more. You can’t see any of this as you walk down the aisles of CES.

Or what about what LG and Samsung and other OEMs are doing with the smart home? Your fridge can now talk to your TV and pull the signal so you never miss a beat of the game as you stumble into the kitchen for more guacamole. And your TV talks to your phone so you can pull up videos and images and movies you’ve saved to watch later. And your dryer can talk to your TV and let you know, as you sit there on your couch, that your wash is done. If you’ve fallen and can’t get up, you can ask your Echo to call 911. The appliances are actually talking to one another better than ever before, more efficiently, enabling new uses for things that might actually seem old.

And you might say “Well gee, Todd, what about the really cool drones and virtual reality tech at CES?” And to that I say again: this year it’s about what you can’t see that matters. In fact, with the HTC Vive, it’s what the Vive itself is now able to see with its new embedded camera that makes the product more immersive. And with drones, it’s about their new smarts, enabled by the latest chips from companies like Qualcomm that allow the drones to fly longer and more accurately than ever before.

In some ways, that makes our job a bit different than in previous years. Yeah, I guess I could go take more pictures of the HTC Vive or the UA Scale, or I could film a drone flying around. But until you’re able to sit there yourself and see how a TV communicates with a washing machine and your phone and how a drone can land itself right back at your feet, or the crazy UI inside of the latest concept cars, or what it’s like exploring a new world inside the HTC Vive, then it’s hard to really explain just how incredible the tech here at CES is.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...