RACHEL ROTHMAN

CONSUMER PRODUCT INFLUENCER

The Answers You’ll Need for 2015 – CES 2015 Takeaways​

If you missed the annual tech expo or are just wondering what’s going on in the world of consumer tech, here are the answers you’re looking for…

Is this the year for 4K (aka UHD or ultra high definition)?

You bet. While last year they were still pretty cost prohibitive, these sets are coming down drastically in price. In addition, key stakeholders ranging from manufacturers to content providers are banning together to form the UHD Alliance to offer you more content. As the ante always has to be upped, 8K concept sets were on display this year, but these won't be making it into your bedroom or living room this year. I’m not saying to run out and buy a new 4K TV, but if you’re on the market for a set, especially a large one, buying a 4K set with 4 times the resolution of standard HD is the way to go.

Will wearables actually take off this year?

Expect to see expansive growth in this category in the next twelve months. With more attractive designs and smarter intelligence (features like automatic sleep detection and heart rate monitoring that give more accurate readings), they're bound to start showing up on the wrists of people you know before long. While many of these devices have a long ways to go before they give truly usable feedback (more usable insights and personalized feedback), fitness band sales will continue to grow for their motivational incentives alone. And while just last year they were bulky and monochromatic in design, they're now quite fashion-forward. As sensors are integrated into more shirts, beds, and various lifestyle environments, they'll be able to more seamlessly track your health and wellness.

Is now the time to get a 3D printer?

While prices have dropped, 3D printers are still a treat for hobbyists and not ready for mainstream consumption. That said, you can get a great 3D printer for around $500, and with lots of ready-to-go content for download and easy software if you want to whip up your own goodies, it’s not the far-out purchase it once was. And if you’re willing to splurge and add a 3D scanner to your purchase, you can scan, manipulate, and print out items you have as well. Again, the future commercial implications of this arena are vast, but for now you’ll have to settle for whipping up some toys and other knick-knacks if you’re a novice.

Should I upgrade my home to become "smart" now?

We've come a long way from fridges littered with unnecessary apps and lofty ambitions of more useful appliances. But we're still a far ways from a perfectly streamlined solution for the masses. Home appliances like washers, dryers, fridges, and the like all have smarter diagnostics, more intuitive operation, and greater efficiency options now – which is definitely making them more convenient. And if you want to control your lights from your phone there are dozens of solutions out there for you! There are also a host of solutions for helping to make your dumb appliances smart, so you don’t have to invest in excessive brand new hardware to allow for remote control and operation. But is this the year you walk into your home and everything seamlessly does what you're thinking? We’re definitely not there yet.

Can I use a drone?

Sure! But do you need one? Probably not. It's still more of a plaything than super practical. Cool educational and research applications are being used with more on the horizon, but unless you want to toy around it's not a necessary pick. And be wary of future restrictions. While right now consumer droning is not strictly regulated, guidelines are in the works. For now, if you decide to drone, use common sense and don't spy on the neighbors!

What the heck is VR? And why should I care about it?

VR stands for virtual reality, and it’s cool because you can feel like you're in another world without leaving the couch. With devices from the likes of Oculus (acquired by Facebook last year) and others, you'll soon be able to feel that you're doing yoga in an Indian temple, weeding in Monet's garden, or gaming in another galaxy. Future applications are super exciting and limitless.

When will my car really be able to drive itself?

Give it another ten years or so. The technology is just about here, but regulations and acceptance are lagging behind. That's why in this decade it’s a long shot for vehicles to be fully driverless -- but here’s to overcoming those roadblocks for safer, more efficient drives in the future!

The big takeaway as usual is that there is a lot of cool stuff out there, but many of these platforms won’t be viable for general consumer consumption until prices drop, more content and services are available, and regulations are standardized.