CES 2016: Four exciting trends we’re watching

CES 2016: Four exciting trends we’re watching

CES, one of the tech industry’s biggest annual consumer electronics shows, kicks off in Las Vegas this week. The show draws exhibitors and press from across the globe to share and show off what the industry has planned for the coming year. The show officially runs from Jan. 6 to Jan. 9, but companies get things started a couple of days early for the press. Monday night brings the first sneak peeks of what will be at the booths of the major show, which drew 3,600 exhibitors last year.

Here are four major themes to watch as we head into the show.

Autos: Cars continue to hold their place as the tech gadget that companies appear to be the most interested in, as they still represent a largely untapped market for advanced connected technologies. Whether you’re talking about more advanced infotainment systems or new concepts for self-driving cars, there will be a lot on display at this year’s show.

As a hint to the continued importance of cars at the show, there are two major automotive execs who will be giving keynote presentations: General Motors chief executive Mary Barra and Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

There have already been some auto announcements tied to the show: Ford has announced that Toyota will begin using the American firm’s “SmartDeviceLink” software — a base for automotive infotainment and connectivity systems — in its cars. Other automakers including Peugeot Citroen, Honda, Mazda and Subaru are also considering adopting the software, Ford said in a press release. Existing infotainment companies such as BlackBerry’s QNX Software Systems and UIEvolution are also going to integrate Ford’s software into their own systems. Ford also announced that it will support both CarPlay and AndroidAuto.

Bending reality: Both virtual reality and augmented reality will get their turn in the spotlight this year. Whether you’re interested in the immersive world of VR or the blend of real and digital elements that augmented reality offers, there will be plenty of booths to visit this year, with 40 exhibitors expected for virtual reality technology alone.

Major companies in the space, including Sony, HTC and Samsung, will all be showing off their technology. But everyone has been waiting for Oculus, the Facebook-owned company that really brought the idea of a personal virtual reality into the mainstream again, to finally launch its own consumer version of its headset. On Monday the company announced that it will start taking pre-orders for its Oculus Rift headset on Jan. 6.

That means we shouldn’t have to wait too long to see how virtual reality versus augmented reality plays out on the market — or indeed how quickly consumers will jump on the bandwagon.

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