January 5, 2015 10:04 AM PT
CES 2015: What to Look For
[Philip Michaels is the former editor of TechHive, has been to many editions of CES, and is currently available for your freelance writing and editing needs.]
This week, the eyes of the tech world will focus in on Las Vegas, as companies, journalists, and every PR person living or dead descends upon the annual CES show. CES (which stands for C’Mon, Everybody—Stuff!) is the largest gathering of the tech industry outside of a 4chan chatroom, with companies both large and small hoping to grab headlines with their latest gear and gadgets.
How important is CES? It’s the launching pad for such innovative, disruptive products as the MySpace TV, Lady Gaga’s Polaroid sunglasses camera, a transparent washing machine from Haier, and GlassUp smartglasses. That none of these products ever actually came to market is beside the point. Tech journalists got to see demos of them, and if you ever caught a glimpse of a unicorn, wouldn’t you want to tell people about it?
And now it’s time for a new slate of products to join the ranks of memorable CES hits like that thing that did stuff and the device that made those noises and the car that was able to… I don’t know… park itself or something?
The cream of the tech reporting crop is in Las Vegas to tell you about every last product announcement as well as how far they’ve walked and how crowded it is. After all, CES is a massive affair—it takes place in a convention hall that’s the size of 3600 football fields with only one working restroom and no potable water. Attendees are encouraged to maintain a brisk pace as they walk the show floor, with smiling ushers swinging truncheons at any stragglers and saying “Move along, more to see” in a pleasant sing-songy voice. Anyone who doesn’t make it to one of the marked exits by the time the show floor closes is locked in for the night, for a first-hand look at the near-mythic CES show floor wolverines that roam the aisles from dusk til dawn.
Frankly, you don’t need to bother with any of that, not when you have a definitive guide on what to expect at CES 2015. We’ve scoured our sources—Google searches, basically—and rigorously fact-checked each claim with an “Eh… seems plausible” to produce this list of what treasures and surprises lay in store for you this week. It’s almost like being at CES, without all the hustle and bustle and nagging sense of futility gnawing at your soul.
Meet the Press
When you’ve got the world’s tech press all in the same place with no visible means of escape—doors lock from the outside at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and you’ll find the moat surrounding the facility quite impassable once the drawbridges are raised—you take advantage of the situation. No, not by releasing the gas and finishing off the publishing industry once and for all; instead, you hold a press conference. Here’s what you can expect some of the major tech players to announce.
Samsung: It will be hard to top last year’s presentation when movie director Michael Bay perfectly articulated Samsung’s vision for its products.
And yet, rumors abound that Samsung will look to build on that momentum with a parade of directors and auteurs to unveil the company’s plans for 2015. J.J. Abrams will reveal the latest Samsung TV sets through a series of ever more elaborate lens flares. Oliver Stone will talk about the vast conspiracy trying to hide the truth about Samsung’s new smartphone lineup. (“These are the selfie features the government doesn’t want you to know about,” he’ll hiss.) David Chase will discuss home appliances in great detail until the lighting goes black right as he’s about to reveal pricing and availability. And Woody Allen will mill about in the background uncomfortably until attendees, sensing the awkwardness of the situation, get up and leave.
Sony: President and CEO Kazuo Hirai will look to get 2015 started on the right foot for his company by proclaiming his great admiration for North Korea. Yup, North Korea’s got it going on, Hirai will insist. And that Kim Jong-un? Not the kind of guy to hold a grudge. “Yes,” Hirai will conclude, “it will be a great year for Sony and for Sony products that will please the peace-loving and virile people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea if only someone, and I’m not making accusations here, stops hacking our email.”
Intel: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich will detail his company’s elaborate roadmap for how to properly spell his name. “The z comes after the r,” he will insist. “Seriously, a child could grasp this.”
Apple: You may think that Apple avoids CES altogether, but that is because you are a know-nothing dummy. We can report, thanks to EXCLUSIVE SOURCES, that Apple will in fact be making a major announcement at CES 2015. It will take place at 2 a.m. outside the parking lot of the Crazy Horse Too Gentlemen’s Cabaret on Industrial Road. Tim Cook will be wearing a disguise, so reporters are encouraged to walk up to any patron entering the building and demand to be given a closer look at their wristwatches. Your persistence will be rewarded!
Wearable devices didn’t take off in 2014 the way manufacturers had hoped, with consumers failing to see the value of wristbands, monitors, and other gadgets that logged data about their every activity. Look for wearable makers to get more agressive this year: Anyone entering the CES show floor will be fitted with an electronic wristband—the process will go much more smoothly if your body goes limp and you don’t resist. Then, all you have to do is remark every hour that “2015 is going to be the year that people start buying wearables in my opinion” to avoid a sharp, sudden shock administered by ever watchful observers. You’ll be able to remove the wristband once wearable sales improve.
The Internet of Things
We’ve been hearing for years about the Internet of Things—a vision that involves smart appliances, mobile controls, and interconnectivity. Well, 2015 is the year that space-age vision becomes a reality. And who better to usher in this new era than actor Michael Chiklis, who played Ben Grimm in a series of increasingly entertaining Fantastic Four movies? “The Thing may tell you that it’s Clobberin’ Time,” Chiklis will tell CES attendees. “But the Internet of Things will tell you it’s Connectivity Time.”
“Get it?” he will add, after pausing awkwardly for several minutes to make sure that the joke sinks in.
Chiklis will then invite numerous tech executives on stage to share their thoughts on a world where appliances, mobile devices, and computers will talk to each other, learning your behaviors, sharing your data, plotting against you as you marvel at the convenience of programming your thermostat from your smartphone completely unaware of the diabolic trap your refrigerator and washing machine have set up for you. “Run,” Chiklis will conclude the session as he’s dragged backstage by uniformed CES personnel. “Warn the others! Fight the future!”
Stroll outside the Las Vegas Convention Center at past CESes, and you could usually spot drone makers demonstrating their wares by putting their flying machines through a series of death-defying stunts. This year, the drone demos move indoors, as we embrace our new drone-centric future. From high above the CES show floor, drones will swoop down on the attendees below, giving people a bird’s-eye view of the sights and sounds of CES while also capturing the up-close reactions of surprised onlookers and unaware passersby.
There will be no survivors.
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