For traditional tradeshow professionals, the big news out of International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10, was the unofficial announcement that the showfloor has topped 2 million net square feet. For the rest of the world, it was the introduction of new industry buzz terms like “Internet of things” and “wearable computing.”
The idea of an “Internet of things” has been around for at least five years. However, the possibility of using the Web to connect devices, even electronics sewn into fabrics that people can wear, rushed into the mainstream this week with a massive introduction at CES.
“We’re creating a network of devices, all smart, all coming together,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a pre-show keynote Monday night.
With the declining cost and the increasing variety of electronic sensors of all kinds available—with motion detection, cameras attached, etc.—devices that send data to the Internet can be embedded almost anywhere.
The new products presented last week ranged from athletic headgear with sensors that can measure the impact of hits during a football game (sending potential red flags on concussions) to thermostats that interact with Smartphones, thus keeping tabs on family members cranking up or down the heater or air conditioner depending on where they are in their homes.
At the other end of the spectrum was the introduction by major automotive companies of potentially driver-less cars.
However, wearables—devices with tiny sensors that respond to things like body temperature and even blood sugar levels—attracted the most attention during an early press briefing on Monday. A research report from the research firm IHS distributed to the media says that the international wearables market, including old standbys like heart-rate monitors and hearing aids, will go from a $10-billion market last year to $30 billion by 2018.
“CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business [of] consumer technologies,” says Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “We couldn’t be more excited to see the magic, wonder and energy of consumer technology come to life.”