One Week out from CES: Nine Things to Look For

There is only one week to go until I head out to Las Vegas for CES 2020. Trying to game what the central theme of a particular CES is before it happens will forever be a losing play, but I do have nine things I'm looking for this year:

1) A constant drumbeat of new health and fitness devices. The single highest percentage category of the over 800 CES 2020-related emails I have received since the beginning of December is in these two categories. These devices include smart shinguards and many smartwatches, including one that claims to measure caloric intake.

2) Smart cities and smart homes. I'm anticipating endless variations on the smart lock theme along with home automation and smart home decorations. Modular hotels will also make an appearance. I'm also wondering how much of the new CHIP smart home standard will be in evidence.

3) Big name keynotes. Daimler, Delta, NBC Universal, Quibi, and Samsung all have keynotes at CES 2020.

4) Speaking of keynotes, less talk of 5G futures at the keynotes and more discussion of the nuts and bolts at individual sessions. This makes sense, and also acknowledges what has been a halting and disorganized set of rollouts—one that is extremely confusing to the average consumer.

5) More of a formal presence from Apple. For the first time since 1992, Apple is officially at CES, with Jane Horvath (Apple's Senior Director of Global Privacy) participating in a privacy roundtable on January 7th. They also have increased presence around their HomeKit smart home connectivity technology. Will this change in behavior extend to CES 2021?

6) Continued build-out of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Internet-connected lobster traps are now evidently a thing, while there is now at least a little more attention being given to IoT security.

7) What's next from the auto manufacturers? It turns out that self-driving cars are harder than some thought. Audi, FCA, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Toyota are still going to be on the show floor (out of inertia?)—what will their emphasis be this year? What about the much newer manufacturers such as Byton?

8) While we're at, more products that make older cars smarter. With the average age of an automobile on the road in the United States now 11.8 years, there's a vast market (perhaps 200 million vehicles) for devices that make your older car at least a little bit smarter. Most of these products connect through the ODB-II connector that's been around since 1996—expect that to become a limitation, as you can only attach one device at a time.

9) Finally, the eternal question: what relatively unsung areas of technology will I see that interest me? At every CES, there are at least a few technologies that come out of the blue with interesting applications, such as Tanvas in 2017 and the Griffin BreakSafe USB-C power connector in 2016.

What unexpected products and technologies will I see this year? Visit Mac Edition Radio in 2020 and find out!

John Mulhern III, Posted 12/29/2019