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CES 2016 — Where Consumer Electronics Are Going

Last week I had my annual 26 mile walk around CES Tech West, East, and South. It was a great workout. This year again I walked around with the 12 year long CES veteran Bobby Lo — he started CES before when he was allowed to gamble ... :-)

Where are consumer electronics going?

Distributed manufacturing is hot. 3D printing of metal is getting better. There are small waterjet cutters, small laser printer machines, and small PCB printers. To connect them all, we have fictiv.com (portfolio company) helping startups prototype quickly, without spending any money buying machines.

Cars have always been huge at CES. This year we finally got flying cars and car platforms. The problem for me in cars has always been that consumers don’t buy a new car every 12–18 months (like they do for smartphones) and this becomes a checkpoint on how quickly innovations can come to market.

We saw new solutions that we could potentially add after-market. The trend started a few years back with getting data out of our cars, but this year we’re seeing some intelligent lane / collision warning systems and gesture controls.

More sensors — water & bone sensors, oxygen sensors, and wearable body fat monitor. Sensing of materials is also huge — linksquare, tactile sensors, and gluten sensors.

IoT is becoming more about action and automation.

Take sleep, Eight (our portfolio company) is a bed cover that actively changes the temperature of your bed. Sleep Number and Variowell have mattresses that can adjust for the firmness of the bed automatically. We can even fix your jetlag problems.

Robot butlers are coming to a home near you.

I wasn’t a believer originally when it came to the Echo. How wrong am I (look at the reviews)! Now we have communication robots (our China portfolio company), camera robots, projector robots, modular robots, and AI speakers.

Robotic arms are also big. We saw uArm (our China portfolio company) from the maker side and Carbon from the industrial side.

In entertainment, TV has always been a staple at CES. This year we see TVs becoming more social and more game oriented. Oculus launched. It’s $599 plus tax+shipping, but it’s all worth it. We saw a huge number of 360 / 3D cameras preparing us for the coming age of VR.

Drones are becoming more portable and safe. We’re exploring new frontiers like the ocean — we have FiFish (funded by our China portfolio company), Seawolf, and a water hoverboard.

Speaking of hoverboards, last year we had a huge number of Chinese smartwatch makers. This year they are replaced by hoverboard suppliers and Coolest Cooler copycats.

The marketing and branding of the Chinese booths have also noticeably gotten better. I saw more foot traffic in the Chinese booths than the German booths, which admittedly is not a high bar. For now, US and French exhibitors still attract more traffic.

(cross post from Medium)

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