As anyone who works in PR knows, the concept of time can be a tricky one. Thanks to lengthy client planning cycles, print editorial deadlines that are determined months in advance, and the constant impulse to look ahead at what’s next, it can frequently feel like we’re working in the future. Even still, I never cease to be amazed when I receive the first “CES Planning” invite in early October. If you’re feeling like your immune system (and your feet) just recently fully recovered from last year’s show and, can it really be time for CES again? You’re not alone.
If you aren’t familiar with CES, shorthand for Consumer Electronics Show, it is widely recognized as the preeminent consumer tech event of the year. Technology companies from all over the country descend on Las Vegas in early January to show off their newest innovations to the throngs of press and buyers who attend the show.
For attending brands, from the biggest names to the smallest start-ups, it can be an opportunity to establish valuable relationships or secure that big feature story that will help sustain sales for the rest of the year. For attending PR pros it can be, frankly, exhausting. But the 8+ hours a day on your feet, travel misadventures, and hotel bar food could all be worthwhile if you’re a tech junkie—as you’ll also have a front row seat to some of the coolest technology launching next year.
So whether you’re a hardened CES veteran or a fresh-faced first-timer, read on for trends to watch out for at this year’s show.
2017 was a big year for voice control, with almost every player in the smart assistant space (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) linking up with third-party partners to bring voice activation to everything from speakers to smart light bulbs. You can expect to see this movement continue to gain traction, with brands rolling out every voice-controlled device under the sun.
Even More Robots
CES 2017 was dubbed the year of the robot, and this is another trend that is here to stay (at least for another year). But don’t think R2D2. The robots that will be dominating the show floor will be of the AI variety, with digital assistants, chatbots and the like, as far as the eye can see.
Prepare to Get Physical
The wearable technology space, particularly for tracking fitness and athletic performance, has blown up in recent years thanks to brands like FitBit and Under Armour. A testament to the interest in this technology, CES 2018 will be rolling out the CES Sports Zone, described as “the perfect arena for sports technology advancements.” Expect a few celebrity athlete sightings, and lots of chatter about data-driven performance and immersive AR/VR technology.
Fewer Power Players on the Show Floor
Last year’s show saw bigger brands bucking tradition and vacating the CES show floor, opting instead to host standalone events or build out product showcases that double as both media demo space and salesroom. Rumor has it that tech giant Google will be doing a little of both, with a large booth presence at the show as well as eight hospitality suites to showcase this year’s big launch. As has been the case in years past, some of the most cutting edge (and weirdest) tech can be found at the Eureka start-up showcase, which is expected to be even busier at this year’s show.