Why CES is still a hugely important event for tech

Don't expect the next superstar device, but do expect the next big things

Formed in 1967, The International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES) is now the most famous show of its type on the planet, and although many of the major manufacturers now choose to host their own events to avoid being overshadowed or lost in the noise, nobody would ever doubt that it remains a tent pole of the technology industry.

We're not, in truth, expecting an announcement on the level of Blu-ray or DVD (or even Laserdisc) at the 2015 incarnation of the show, but CES remains an important touch point for the industry as we look to the big-ticket technologies for the coming year.

At a recent talk with the CEA (the trade body behind the show), president and CEO, Gary Shapiro outlined some of the big trends for the coming show, a great indicator for what is growing fast and becoming mainstream.

"We have CEOs from across the world coming because they want to see trends," he said.

"This year we will see a lot about 3D printing, which is one of the fastest-growing areas, and will be 40% bigger [at the show] than in 2014.

"We will have driverless cars, lots of gaming, high definition audio, sensors – which are getting a lot of attention. Smartwatches' footprint will double and we'll see a big growth in unmanned systems (which I still call drones), and of course there's wireless health.

"We're also launching two new areas this time. The first is a personal privacy, where people can check out developments such as safe payment methods, digital wallets and private messaging, and cyber security which, in the midst of high-profile attacks in the US, is becoming a crucial area."

Of course, Shapiro is mainly talking about the amount of exhibitors or the space that they are taking in Las Vegas, and it's clear that some of the technology on show may not have enough mainstream accessibility to either become huge or maintain its size.

But in the industries he listed, it's very likely that we will see devices and ideas that will shape not only 2015, but the next decade in technology.

Indeed, while drones and smartwatches are already becoming a mass-market favourite, driverless cars remain some years from being commonplace, and the sensor market – and the oft-mentioned internet of things that rely on its data – is only in the very infancy of its likely world-changing life cycle.

CES remains a show at which big manufacturers can unleash their 'next big thing', but perhaps more importantly the gathering of 150,000 people from the technology industry remains an indicator of what's going to be important outside of those big-ticket devices.

Shapiro wouldn't be doing his job if he failed to insist that this year's show would be a 'barn burner' but when he says it's the show that the world comes to see the latest in innovation, it is not merely hyperbole. CES is still a vital weathervane for the industry that created it.

  • Here's what we're hoping to see at CES 2015

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Global Editor-in-Chief

Patrick (Twitter) is Global Editor-in-Chief for techradar, and has been with the site since its launch in 2008. He is a longstanding judge of the T3 Awards, been quoted or seen on everything from the The Sun to Sky News and is on the #CoolBrands Council. He started his career in football, making him one of approximately one journalists to have covered both a World Cup final and an iPhone launch.