Thin, powerful, appified and connected are the keywords for the 45th edition of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s largest technology trade show. Product announcements, prototypes and innovative technologies revealed during the event are key indicators of technology trends for the year and will provide consumers with a glimpse into the future.
Thinner, more powerful laptops and Ultrabooks
Chip maker Intel says affordable super-thin, ultra-light, high-performance laptops called "Ultrabooks" will be the star of the show in 2012. The company has said it will focus on bringing a new range of touchscreen, Windows 8-based Ultrabooks to market in 2012. More than 50 Ultrabooks will be on display during CES.
Apps, apps and more apps
As consumers discover the wonder of apps on their smartphones and tablets, they are starting to wonder how apps could transform the other products in their home into smarter, connected devices. Expect to see apps on TVs, cars, fitness devices, radios, cameras, printers, fridges, washing machines and photo frames (and of course more apps for tablets, smartphones and PCs).
Tablets and smartphones
While Mobile World Congress is just around the corner, CES will still be home to some major smartphone and tablet announcements. PCWorld predicts that "we will see a veritable army of tablet competitors intent on challenging the dominance of the Apple iPad. Maybe 2012 will be the year that some of these rivals actually gain some traction." Android-based mobile devices, especially those running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, will steal most of the headlines, but also be on the lookout for tablets running Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS, a range of devices with high-res displays, and cool new prototypes featuring flexible, transparent or color e-ink displays.
NFC and wireless technologies
CES will expand its wireless exhibits in 2012 with the launch of two new TechZones: Access on the Go and the new MEMS TechZone. Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences, CEA predicts that "[m]obile and portable connected devices are driving growth in the CE industry and will be a major focus of the 2012 CES." Wireless exhibitors Alcatel-Lucent, Audiovox, Blackberry, Ericsson, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will be at the event to showcase their latest products and technologies. Market analyst IMS Research reports that 35 million NFC-enabled phones were sold in 2011 -- a figure that is set to soar to 80 million by the end of 2012. What’s hot: wave and pay, keyless entry and carrier-promoted wireless payments.
Connected, interactive TVs
Consumers may not be too excited about buying a 3D TV, but they do want a TV set that is connected to the internet, has apps and above all makes it easy for them to browse and watch their favorite programs. CES TV trends for 2012 include smarter internet TVs with QWERTY keyboard accessories; TVs that team up with your smartphone or tablet to provide seamless content sharing; TVs with voice control and search; built-in cameras and mics for app-based video chat; and more and more apps built for the big screen.
Cameras and camcorders go HD with built-in 3D
CNET predicts that there will be fewer big camera announcements than ever at CES in 2012, despite the fact that the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show has been integrated into the event for the first time. Low-priced, standard-definition cameras with physical hard drives are out and high-definition, rugged (shock- and waterproof) cameras are in. Expect to see more and more cameras with built-in 3D or 3D-ready features too.
In 2011 Apple debuted Siri, Microsoft launched voice search on Kinect, and Google is tipped to be working on an intelligent voice service that is even more technologically advanced than its existing Voice Actions for Android. While gadgets with voice search and intelligent voice features may not be prolific at CES in 2012, you can guarantee they will be a hot topic of conversation.