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CES 2017: Virtual Reality, Voice Recognition and IoT

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CES celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and with each passing year, there’s more and more crazy technology. As I was driving to the office last week listening to Sirius Hits 1, the morning show played a game each morning in honor of CES: Real or Not Real.

One of the hosts picked out one real technology that launched at CES and one fake; the other host had to guess which one was fake. If you’ve followed any of the CES coverage over the past few years, you probably wouldn’t have been surprised by one of the choices: an automated smart cat feeder that gives your cat fresh food and water or a keyboard that massages your fingers as you type?

What’s real? Catspad, the automated cat feeder. Everyone loves the wacky roundups – Forbes has its wonderful tech oddities; Mashable, the wonderfully weird wearables; TIME’s weirdest gadgets and the lists go on. While many of the “odd” tech may never reach mass adoption, there are a few trends that do reach mainstream that dominated CES 2017: virtual reality, voice recognition and the Internet of Things.

Virtual Reality

VR continues to pick up speed and HTC dominated the show this year. The company not only unveiled its tracker, which makes it possible to turn toy guns, baseball bats and even fire hoses into trackable VR controllers. HTC also committed to building a standalone wireless VR headset, announced a VR subscription service and unveiled a content marketplace for VR arcade operators. While VR may not be in everyone’s hands yet, HTC is making strides to bring us that much closer.

Voice Recognition

Voice is quickly becoming the next competitive battlefield. Allegedly 700 apps were released during CES for Alexa, from companies like Ford, Lenovo and Dish TV. With all that voice data being recorded and analyzed, it makes you wonder…who is really listening to all that data? As a recent owner of a Google Home, I share my own concerns about this (even though I do love saying “OK Google! Turn on the lights!).

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Internet of Things

While I’m enjoying transforming my home into a smart home, IoT devices have one major concern: security. The lack thereof is giving hackers a whole new world to crack into. Who would think to change their password on their IoT toaster and lightbulbs? And do consumers even know how? I know I sure don’t and I consider myself technologically savvy. If one thing is clear, there needs to be an education around IoT security and what people need to do to stay protected.

Overall, despite these hot trends that will forge what’s going to happen in 2017 and beyond, the consensus of 2017 is that it was a transition year. Many of the attendees walked away feeling a little underwhelmed. But not every year can be the best year yet. We’ll just have to wait to see what’s in store for CES 2018 – it’ll be here before we know it.


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