Unplug the displays and turn down the lights: International CES is closing shop Friday until next January. And while the 2013 run certainly wasn’t the flashiest the trade show has ever had, there were still some major announcements and innovations.
For one, nearly every presentation in this ostensibly hardware-focused show had included something on content or the connection of devices in a wider ecosystem.
That made for fewer whiz-bang, head-turning announcements, but it did sketch a fuller picture of how technology could have an impact on everyday life. TV-makers have recognized the video-on-demand market and are developing tools that let users search all of those services at once. That move forward makes up, in part, for the companies’ publicity blow-out for televisions that are too big for most consumers and too advanced to show nearly any current content.
It also highlighted, more than ever, that companies that focus more on their devices and less or not at all on content are in danger of being left behind. Engineering marvels such as Sony’s water-resistant Xperia Z are impressive, but they seem like random solutions to problems that aren’t much of a problem. Do you really want to take your phone into the bathtub, anyway?
No, this was definitely a CES that focused on the quieter trends -- like technology’s growing ability to measure fitness and health data. Even something as gimmicky as the Hapilabs smart fork, which vibrates when it senses that you’re eating too fast, shows how technology can can get people to pay more attention to their health. Devices such as fitness trackers like Fitbit and mileage-tracking smartwatches like Pebble have real, practical health applications.
Finally, the trends around personal computers at the show were notable because they reflect the growing importance of the mobile workplace. Almost all of the available or soon-to-be available PCs at the show were convertibles, meaning that they can flip from laptop or desktop to tablet in short order. Wirecutter highlighted two convertibles in their list of “gadgets I’d maybe buy” from the CES floor show — the Lenovo portable ThinkVision monitor and its Thinkpad Helix, which docks a tablet into a keyboard.