CES trends to watch in 2017: Self-driving cars, bots and internet of things – CNBC

Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2017

VR, robots, drones, wearables and even 3-D printing

Still, the breakout trends of years past — virtual and augmented reality, drones and wearables — remain a big focus at CES.

A vice president at Intel and a senior advisor to the Federal Aviation Administration will speak about drones at the conference, while speakers from Mattel, Imax, HTC and Sony Pictures all plan to riff on virtual reality.

Despite plateauing sales among consumers, wearables and 3-D printing are also on the agenda this year, with a dossier of speakers ranging from Reebok to Fossil.

The sessions will come after eMarketer slashed its forecast for wearable-device adoption this year. MakerBot, a 3-D printing company, has suffered a slew of layoffs.

While these trends may have faded from the limelight, Mark Cavender, founder and managing director of the Chasm Institute, said these products could leverage strong adoption among businesses to bridge the gap between technology enthusiasts and more conservative consumers.

“Often I’ve seen with consumer products that they first cross the chasm with business,” Cavender said. “If you think of when TVs went from CRT to flat screen, and when they went to high definition, the first people that bought them were wealthy technology enthusiasts. You also saw some business technology enthusiasts, to just learn about them. But the first visionaries were, for instance, sports bars in a city. All of the sudden sports bars, in the period of about a year, went to high-definition TVs.”

A simple device, like a low-cost fitness tracker, might catch on more quickly, Cavender said. But consumers might need to see more from drones or VR before they make the leap.

Amazon drone delivery or surgeons training on VR might move the technologies beyond core groups like gamers this year, he said.

“The wearables that I think showed a lot of potential were B2B,” Cavender said. “A glove that’s got sensors to help Mercedes-Benz have better quality on the assembly line by noticing a mistake. Or building a set of clothing that miners can wear underground that monitor their environment.”

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