Celebrating a record-breaking year, CES has shaken the stigma of its past shortcomings. The world of industrial/business electronics is constantly becoming more complex, but the consumer end seems to be keeping up.
One of the biggest trends in consumer electronics for 2012 is connectivity. According to Parks Associates, 26 percent of HDTVs were sold as Internet-connectable, but the trend says this number will grow to 75 percent by year-end 2016. Along the same lines, Google TV 2.0 is expected to grow its arsenal in both TVs and adapters. This growth of connectible electronics gives even more exposure to an entertainment world outside of standard cable or satellite television, and essentially makes cable TV a thing of the past.
With the introduction of the Xbox Kinect and Siri, the Kinect-age is upon us, where TVs are no longer controlled with buttons or remotes. Utilizing Kinect and interactive technologies, TV manufacturers have created gesture and voice-control for Smart TVs. As the home theater industry has reached a plateau, of sorts, it is expected that these types of devices paired with Smart TVs will be the next wave of consumer entertainment.
While the Cloud has been around as a consumer product for a few years, 2012 is expected to shed more light on it and give more options to consumers. As most of us have already experienced, the Cloud is often being paired with or attached to products and services. As clarity around Cloud Computing expands, we can expect to see the growth of personal cloud options and finer development of subscription services.
The growth of Cloud options gives content providers more access to help match consumers to content. As Google and other search engines personalize results, more second-screen interaction and multi-screen applications are abound.
As we’ve progressed from the desktop to the laptop to the smart phone, the newest wave, and fourth generation of computing, is the tablet. Though it has taken some time to adopt, tablet gaming is on the rise.
According to Parks Associates, 80 percent of gamers play either free-to-play games or Facebook games, and 71 percent of adult tablet owners play games on their tablets. Portable gaming devices, like the Nintendo DS, seem to be a fading memory as tablets are as portable as a smart phone with the computing power of a PC.
Lately, the trend for smart phones is bigger screens and thinner bodies. Beyond aesthetics, Windows phones will be looking to compete as they run on ARM devices, as well as Nokia and HTC. AT&T is set to release the first Windows phone with 4G LTE via the HTC Titan II.
Essentially combining a laptop and a tablet, the Intel-created notebook category, Ultrabook, is expanding. The first wave is already on the market, but the next wave will be hitting this spring. Thriving on Intel Ivy Bridge processors, touchscreens, and voice recognition, there are 75 models in the pipeline.
Even though it has been discussed for some time -- and still makes many consumers uneasy -- alternative ways to pay for goods and services are on the horizon. As PayPal runs trials with HomeDepot, the Google Wallet and V.me (by Visa) are growing in popularity. It seems that the near future will give way to the digital wallet. Writing checks and cold hard cash may seem outdated, but plastic may soon be joining them.
An older concept is taking a giant leap forward. Imagine your coffee maker, air-conditioner, and refrigerator syncing up with your smart phone. These appliances are going far beyond just being digital. Imagine a refrigerator that not only has a touchscreen, but detects what is in the fridge and gives you recipes for what is available, diet suggestions, or even emails you a grocery list. As the Internet shrinks the world to the size of a smart phone, our homes can be at our fingertips everywhere. Though somewhat conceptual, this technology is expected to make its appearance in full force throughout this year.
The world of consumer electronics continues to meld into everything that we do, whether it’s career, recreation, education, or entertainment oriented. 2012 promises to bring even more connection to the world around us and the world with which we are already familiar.