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The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show—or CES as it’s more commonly known—is upon us, and poised to show off more cool technology to wow attendees. The show is largely an opportunity for vendors to introduce what’s possible, like proof of concepts, prototypes and ideas that may never be available to you, the consumers. Still, much of what is there does make it to retail, like Best Buy, and in 2015, that was certainly the case.

Having covered the show for 10 consecutive years going back to 2006 (CES 2016 will be my 11th), I’ve seen a lot that made it, and a lot that didn’t. While it was probably for the best that some of it never did, emerging tech is always interesting, and if you’re into wearables, drones, cars and smart home, then 2015 showed a lot of promise.

Wearables

Swarovski-2.jpgNotice how more and more people are wearing some sort of smart device these days? That was part of the narrative around the wearables category, which got a lot more space and attention at last year’s show. Products announced by Misfit, Withings, Fitbit, Garmin and others all came to market in 2015. 

Another unique device in this category that came to market included the Muse Brain Sensing Headband. Smartwatches didn’t figure as prominently at CES last year, but their presence was still noticeable. Companies as varied as car companies and BlackBerry introduced software integration that worked with smartwatches.

Drones

DJI-Phantom-3.jpgDrones aren’t entirely new, since there have been models available going back to 2011-12, but their viability as both hobbyist and photography devices increased a great deal in 2015. Two particular models that I got to review for Plug-In were the DJI Phantom 3 and Parrot Bebop. Later on, I managed to do one for the new Parrot MiniDrones, which I got a peek at during the show.

This is a category expected to explode going forward, and there are already laws governing how and where to fly drones. Some of the models shown last year were mainly prototypes or crowdfunded projects not quite ready for primetime, but there was still plenty of movement throughout 2015.

Car infotainment

CarPlay.jpgLast year’s CES was the first real chance for attendees to check out Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, with demos at Pioneer’s booth. JVC Kenwood was also showing them off, but not in actual cars. CarPlay officially rolled out in late 2014, barely scratching the surface of the auto industry or aftermarket. Android Auto followed in March 2015, and slowly but surely, the two are getting into more vehicles, starting with Pioneer’s decks.

Both are software platforms residing on the iPhone or Android phone that project onto a compatible head unit. This means they can run on the same hardware, so you’re not forced to choose a car based on one or the other.

dbell.jpgBeyond that, the connected car is continuing to mature, rolling past conceptual at this point. Already, it’s possible to remote start certain cars using a smartphone or smartwatch, check real-time diagnostics and much more, particularly with electric vehicles. Self-driving and autonomous vehicles will figure into this expanding story, but smartphone integration took a big step forward at last year’s show with CarPlay and Android Auto.

Smart Home

What part of a home isn’t getting smarter? Home IP-based surveillance cameras are being complemented by smart thermostats, doorbells, door locks, doorknobs, light bulbs, appliances, garage door openers and smoke detectors. A number of these were shown at CES last year, and then made available at Best Buy.

CES 2016 will run from January 6-9 in Las Vegas, where you can expect a whole lot more in these categories to be revealed. I will be there to see some of it in action, along with other Plug-In bloggers. Check back for more information on what this year’s show presents and what may be coming to Best Buy as the year rolls on.

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Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.