The sensory overload of CES 2016 is over and most of us have made it home to appreciate the relative peace and quiet of anywhere except Vegas. As I think back on the sights, sounds and devices that I saw in the past week, few stand out as surprises. This year seemed to be one of incremental advances, rather than giant leaps forward. TVs gained even better resolution that the content industry is not ready for (8k anyone?), drones got even more plentiful, and refrigerators started to add a little more smarts. A raid by the US Marshalls provided some well-needed gossip from the otherwise mundane activity.
From a wearables perspective, this was a year when we began to see a little more differentiation within the category, with more sports-focused devices, as well as a greater focus on health-related aspects. United Healthcare, for example, was busy showing how wearables could benefit a corporation overall, while myriad devices attempted to show an individual more information about their overall health, rather than just hope many steps they had taken. But while interesting, a fair smattering of these devices were previewed last year and are still not quite within grasp of an official launch date. But that’s kind of the point of CES: it’s a time to dream of what may be, not just what is. Concepts are supposed to drive our imagination and perhaps push consumer electronics forward to new heights. And I’m not convinced that I saw anything that met that criteria at this year’s show.
So be it; you can’t keep an analyst happy all the time. It is not in our DNA. But one product really stood out at CES that has nothing to do with the show. Everywhere you looked in Vegas, there were cartoon images of an evil genius/mad professor who is apparently ready to unleash a new weapon on Beach Boom that will make the game even more challenging. Yes, it is a smartphone game, and the adverts were everywhere. It was the one thing that has stuck with me, long after the ringing of slot machines has faded from my subconscious. I may not have left CES with an urgent need to buy more consumer electronics, but I do find that I’m now spurning my spare time protecting the residents of small islands from the evil genius and his cronies.