The essential Apple users guide to CES 2017

Tech industry hype becomes reality at CES 2017

While Apple won’t be at CES this year it will be watching news from the event.

That's because this year's show is shaping up to be a testing ground for a range of new technologies just about emerging into Gartner's 'Plateau of Productivity'.

Smartphones have shown what can be done with an intelligent mobile processor inside of a truly mobile device, so you can also expect an array of add-on devices for iPhones, including camera lenses and cases, including the mJoose signal boosting case.

4K tunes in

4K television will be one of the leading new technologies.

That’s good news for Apple watchers, given the company is known to be developing its own VR/AR solutions, and even better news for Apple.

You see, we expect to see 4K televisions to be announced at the show at much more affordable prices, and that’s a pretty big deal. Why? Because as the hardware reaches people’s homes, broadcasters and content providers will become more motivated to offer decent quality content in UHD.

You know this is coming as big players, including the BBC, Sky and others, have begun testing 4K broadcasts. Over the next few months as 4K ready televisions reach people’s homes en masse you can expect the trickle of content in that standard to become a flood.

Once it does, it makes sense to think about 4K streaming devices, and makes it far more likely Apple will introduce a 4K version of Apple TV – particularly as broadcasters and the content provision industry coagulates around a more limited number of 4K standards. Fragmentation of the 4K standard is a problem right now.

VR, AR and more

As televisions become computers we expect much more from them. The evolution of consumer VR (which has its own hall at CES) and professional AR systems is speeding up. Oculus, HTC Vive, Microsoft Hololens and others are already racing to build this market segment. We know for sure that Apple is looking into this sector too – because Apple CEO Tim Cook told us.

CES will give us the best insight yet into the potential of these solutions, particularly in terms of user interfaces. Why should Apple users be interested in this? Seems to me there is big potential for the evolution of gesture-based user interfaces, inside out tracking and experiences beyond immersive gaming. I’m particularly interested in the potential for medical tech in the connected health sector, while iOS users may be interested in new video glasses from SunnyCam.


Not only should we see a plethora of high-end wireless speakers and headphones at CES, but you can anticipate a proliferation of voice assistant support across these systems.

After all, if you use a streaming music service like Apple’s, Amazon’s, or Spotify, why wouldn’t you want to be able to demand whatever track you wanted to hear using your voice and a connected speaker system?

That’s the real promise of systems like Alexa, at least when it comes to audio. Microsoft is working with Samsung’s newly acquired Harmon Kardon on premium audio speakers, for example. Apple has allegedly been exploring similar technologies, so it will be interesting to see what its closer partners have to share at the show.

Wearables and smarthomes

Apple Watch now dominates the smartwatch sector, but you can anticipate connected wearable devices beyond the wrist at CES. Think shoes that track your exercise, Bodytrak clothing, and more. You should also look forward to more connected smarthome devices at the event (take a look at WooHoo), many with HomeKit support. 

A focus on assistive home services and digital health all herald the moment for “ambient technologies”, when tech is so deeply wrapped inside the way we live our lives that it almost becomes invisible. You’ll also see third party vendors including Kanex sharing their next-generation Apple Watch accessories. 

Look around and you may even find a celebrity chef cooking up a storm in a connected smart kitchen from Gourmia, and a smart bed that intelligently adjusts itself to your sleep patterns, Sleep Number.

Robotics and AI

Connected listening stations demand a connected machine intelligence for best effect, and you can look forward to a range of Amazon Echo competitors. Amazon will need to innovate as the devices it competes with become much smarter, take Olly, a desktop-based smart assistant that adapts its personality to suit each member of the household. As machine intelligence becomes more sophisticated, smart home listening devices will become increasingly sophisticated to match. This evolution of AI is inevitable and necessary as we see the framework laid down for robots in tomorrow’s home. You’ll see some of these on show at the show, mostly task-focused bots, including a clothes-folding machine, Laundroid.

Smart cars

Apple and Google may be focused on creating the OS for the future autonomous automobile, but existing vehicle brands are ready to share their wares at CES. Chrysler, Toyota, Faraday Future are all on the exhibitor list, so you can expect interesting news around augmented driving systems and technological innovations such as these. BMW plans to demonstrate HoloActive Touch Technology, a new take on dashboard design, Mercedes Benz is already flagging up its own series of YouTube announcements from the event and Autoliv, Clarion, Delphi, IAV, Navya, NVIDIA, NXP, Renesas and Valeo will all exhibit in the self-driving tech marketplace at the show.


Apple Pay is a shadow of what is to come. Global fintech funding hit $36 billion in 2016 and 40 percent of that huge investment went to payment companies. It won’t stop there, expect first signs of data analytics innovation in financial industries, lots of conversation about blockchain and the threat it represents to traditional payment providers, and the impact of connected technology on the insurance industry. Apple products and Apple Pay have potential implications across all of these new financial services. To get a sense of the potential in this sector, take a look at Atom and Mondo, new digital-only banks. Think about how personalization of fintech services could impact this sector, and then pay a visit to the Digital Money Forum at the show.

There will be much more at CES this year – what makes CES 2017 stand out in comparison to some previous years is that we appear to be at a true inflection point for a plethora of new connected smart devices, and that’s breathing new vigor into the industry and its trade show.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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