Back to the future! This phrase may best describe this year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) because most of the show is about past technology successes. This show presents some startling new gadgets, but alas, they’re in their infancy (though they portend much excitement for the future.) Buzzword gizmos accentuating artificial intelligence, virtual reality, wearables, the Internet of Things, autonomous cars, and drones, vie for attention in the spotlight, but are just not ready for prime-time. The hope is that, in time, these things will be readily available for the average consumer – but not just yet. In the meantime you can expect to be bombarded with early versions of tomorrow’s tech that are bound to feel clunky and leave you wanting and hankering for more.
This looks like the landscape for the next few years and Shows. Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies told the New York Times that,
“It’s like the junior high years in technology. We’re in those awkward teenage years where everything looks and feels funky.”
Innovations may titillate, but do not persuade us that, given the expense, the item is a must-have. Self-driving cars may be the future, but unless stop lights are connected to them and pedestrians are wearing safety bracelets to alert drivers, they might as well be left in the garage. Take heart, though, in time it will all be worth i. As Bajarin notes,
“They will eventually cross that hump and become mature, but it’s not there right now.”
In a way, we have become jaded by the rapid expansion of technology in smartphones and the like, and the ubiquitous cloud. We hunger for the next great thing without pausing to appreciate what we have, and to assimilate the knowledge that these latest, newest baubles have brought us. We have learned to live for the next great thing, with an insatiable appetite for new gadgets. We might be initially impressed with say, the Apple Watch but, because, it’s a bit bulky, we wish for something smaller and faster. That, unfortunately, will take time as faster, smaller chips must be developed. And make no mistake, they will be.
Virtual reality is another interesting and attractive concept, but it may be a while before it becomes pervasive, instead of just a novelty to be flaunted at shows like CES. VR devices are making headway, but won’t become mainstream until computers catch up and can accommodate the VR technology. Even inventions like Microsoft’s HoloLens are more “augmented reality” than virtual reality. So despite the many booths on the CES landscape being littered with goggles that create more headaches than fun, the likelihood that you’ll be enjoying VR in 2016 in any meaningful way is slim.
The same applies to artificial intelligence (AI), self- driving cars, and multi-purpose drones, which someday will change the labor scene. This includes personal assistants, like Siri, which will continue with enhancements to enable it to become a business and personal staple. All require time to percolate, to mature. So while this year’s CES doesn’t bowl one over, it does deliver a peek at what the world will look like in a few very short years, and shows that 2016 may be a seminal moment for getting a taste of what the future holds, even if it doesn’t deliver the goods at this time.