CES 2016: 6 topics to watch for Apple users

Apple's not at the show, but its influence is real

Apple, iOS, OS X, CES, wearables

We're close to peak Star Wars, people.

Credit: Haier

Apple never attends CES, but Cupertino’s shadow dominates the show. 2016 will be no different, so here’s what Mac and iOS users may want to watch during this year’s event.

Wearables

CCS Insight anticipates numerous wearables will appear at CES and with Apple expected to introduce a v.2 Apple Watch within the next 13 weeks, we’ll be asking: “Will any of these products set new bars for wearable computing?” I also imagine some hopefully grown-up discussion about the OMbra.

Augmented reality

Expect a range of augmented reality and gaming headsets at this year’s show, including Oculus Rift, Samsung’s claimed introduction of 3D user interface for VR and the much anticipated HTC Vive, developed in conjunction with Valve and its SteamVR system. The latter means users can walk around a 15-foot space and have their movements replicated within the experience they're having in their headset. The evolution of more visceral experiences and 3D user interfaces will make VR far more enticing experiences than we ever got with Google Glass. (Think how this might feel when playing a shoot-em-up, for example). Don’t be surprised when Apple hints about its own headset in the next few months, particularly as Sony has been working on something similar for about the same length of time.

Connected home

Artifical intelligence is becoming a “thing” and this year CES has a range of new solutions on show, such as iBaby Labs’ smart HomePal home video monitoring solution, AiSense air quality monitor and iBaby range of baby monitors -- all attracting a little attention. I think there will be some attention given to the Haier R2-D2 Moving Refrigerator, at least from a novelty point of view, while Samsung’s somewhat more practical smart fridge is also worth a look-see. The problem with smart homes are the plethora of competing and, at times, incompatible standards getting in the way of wider deployment through HomeKit or any other system.

Connnected cars

2016 will be the year smart vehicle systems such as CarPlay begin to drive into the mainstream. Ford this morning confirmed plans to support Apple and Google’s smart car infotainment and connectivity solutions in Ford cars featuring Sync 3 technologies. Ford wasn’t alone; Mercedes-Benz is also at CES to speak to its vision of user-focused motoring and Toyota will discuss how to deploy data analytics and AI in its vehicles.

Don Butler, executive director of Ford's connected vehicles and services division stressed the importance of cloud services, telling V3: "I can't predict what the future is going to be, which is why I'm trying to put as much of it as I can in the cloud…. Cloud will enable us to dynamically adjust and adapt the capability of Sync within the vehicle depending on the current driving condition or experience." Ironically this means mobile network access may define the future of the vehicle industry – and man in the middle hacks could define the future of vehicle crime.

Robots and drones

With 27 robotics exhibitors, CES will be heavy on the “introducing our new robot overlords” vibe, including solutions for child therapy, search and rescue and more. Drones are also taking off (sorry). You’re going to see drones in use across a range of different industries, from architecture to agriculture to delivery services and in proactive maintenance tasks. Naturally, this means you’ll see lots of solutions on offer at CES 2016 – and one day these things will be controlled using an Apple Watch (or using a VR headset).

Gadgets

Why must you invest in different accessories for all your devices? Why can’t you find solutions that work across your Macs, smartphones and tablets? Veteran accessories manufacturer/designer Kensington has a few ideas to share at CES, including “docking stations that integrate operating systems, wireless power options for smartphones, and zero footprint products to reduce desktop clutter,” said Ben Thacker, vice president of global marketing and U.S. sales.

Livestream has another accessory likely to interest iOS users: Movi, a video camera and software system that lets you control up to nine cameras from one iOS device. This should be invaluable for streaming live events with interesting potential for multi-site video conferencing. The Apollo personal cloud storage system is also likely to attract some attention from consumer and SME users searching for secure storage.

One more thing

Another year, another tech, and 2016 seems set to be the year OLED becomes cheaper and therefore more mainstream. That folding iPad has to be on the road map, right?

I’ll be keeping an eye out for new and interesting compatible solutions from CES 2016, so expect a rundown of some of these soon.

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