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Wearables 2.0, personal AI assistants and the IoT bubble bursting – what to look for at CES 2016

The Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES) takes place this week in Las Vegas, and acts as a stage and showcase for major electronic manufacturers' products and services for the coming six to 12 months.

Will Harvey

Every year more than 170,000 attendees from across the globe make the pilgrimage to this oasis of innovation to gain access to over 3,600 exhibitors, hear predictions and talks from industry leaders and learn about trends which will be affecting the tech industry over the next year.

The conference runs 5-9 January and offers brands and agencies the opportunity to get an early look at what may soon be in their consumers' pockets and homes and part of their lifestyles.

As the conference approaches, here are my thoughts on a few themes marketers should look out for...

Wearables 2.0

One of the most talked about trends is the boom in the wearable technology category, with vast numbers of devices released in 2015 from multiple manufacturers growing even more going into 2016, and predictions of market growth of 64 per cent in the coming three years.

A number of devices have tried and struggled to find adoption, but the big players such as Apple and Samsung have refined their devices to suit the market with new generation models. 2016’s Wearable 2.0 gen. of devices have been redesigned, and refined, to be more practical as they bid to reach beyond the early adopters and move into mass market consumption.

Personal AI assistants

An increasingly hot topic over the past six months, the rise of AI will continue into 2016 with a number of advances. Covering both large scale and mobile devices though personal assistance offerings such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now, we’ll see a number of advancements in this space, reducing need for human input for mundane daily tasks.

This will also increase our computers' learning about our habits and needs, therefore predicting desired outputs before we have requested them.

IoT bubble burst

The internet of things boomed in 2015 with a range of devices and starter kits coming to market. Although it’s become an inflated industry buzzword, it still doesn’t really mean much to consumers.

We will without a doubt see a range of ‘connected’ devices at this year’s show from home utilities through devices to monitor more of our daily behaviour and inform our consumption. But there is likely to be less focus on the hardware itself, and more on the security and safety of these devices, and what happens to all the personal data they capture.

2015 was riddled with stories, scares and news of hacking and security breaches from some of the biggest brands, so consumer trust has been shaken and manufacturers and innovators will need to gain back that trust with new developments in the security area.

VR headsets go mainstream and AR advances

In 2016 we will see a flood of brands finally shipping consumer-ready VR headsets: Facebook with Oculus, HTC with Valve and Sony with Project Morpheus. And we’re certain some other brands will be jumping on this particular wagon.

These are nothing new but the first six months of 2016 will be interesting, as we see if the mass market is now interested enough and willing to adopt technology that until now has been plagued with setbacks and negative hurdles.

We will also see the continued growth of augmented reality as more powerful processors appear in our mobile devices. Take Google with Project Tango, which uses computer vision to enable mobile devices to detect its position relative to the world around it using a range of sensors and technologies, along with the incredibly secretive Magic Leap device which has been teased during 2015. This will offer some great opportunities for brands to take their content beyond just a screen.

We will be publishing a full post conference report on all the big announcements, developments and surprises along the way. And The Drum will be providing daily updates from the show floors throughout this week.

Will Harvey is innovation lead at VCCP. You can follow his observations from CES on Twitter @WilliamEdHarvey

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