Whether you're a first-time attendee or a repeat visitor, it's impossible not to feel a little overwhelmed as you step onto the CES show floor. It's a technicolor Disneyland of consumer tech, encompassing everything from televisions to home appliance, wearables to cars.
Drones? Rocket-powered skateboards? Yep, they've got those too.
But each year, a few product categories tend to dominate, and for CES 2016 those frontrunners are already pretty clear.
Revenge of the Smart Home
The prevailing theme for this year's CES is “Integration." That is, the integration of devices and products that, historically, have stood alone and unconnected. And in no place is this push toward the “Internet of Things” stronger than the smart home.
While smart home products have been plagued with compatibility issues due to competing standards, Apple and Google are making headway in the fight for universal interoperability. Expect to see everything from a smart scale, to a smart blender, to a new type of wi-fi meant to support these same smart devices.
Cars + Tech = The Future!
BMW is unveiling a new type of user interface that's not unlike the XBox Kinect. Yep, that means you can gesticulate wildly to try and navigate infotainment options and menus.
General Motors and Volkswagen are pouring more resources into exploring the viability of the electric car, with the Chevy Bolt and the (rumored) VW Microbus, respectively. New startup Faraday Future will also be showcasing its concept model, which has been heavily teased ahead of the show.
Finally, Ford and Google are reportedly set to announce that they will collaborate to produce completely autonomous cars.
Televisions: WCG, HDR, and OLED—Oh My!
TVs are getting ever closer to replicating real life on a screen. For years, content producers have been able to film movies and shows with lifelike color and contrast, but it’s only now that TVs are catching up.
Major manufacturers are beginning to roll out Wide Color Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays with 4K and even 8K resolution. Look for these souped up displays from Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, and more at CES 2016.
LG, still the only major manufacturer producing OLED screens (until Panasonic joins the fray), has unveiled an 18" rollable OLED screen, with the aim of eventually integrating the technology into devices like smartphones and tablets.
Etc, etc, etc.
Not every company is unleashing new, mind-blowing products at CES. Most product categories, like wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart clothes), rideables (hoverboards, electric scooters, and rocket skateboards), virtual reality, personal computers, tablets, smartphones, cameras, and drones will all be well-represented, but with mostly incremental upgrades.