Wolverton: As CES prepares to kick off, some themes emerge

LAS VEGAS — CES may not officially open until Thursday, but the annual electronics show is already getting into gear.

Tuesday saw the first pre-show events — briefings from analysts about the state of the industry, a smattering of press announcements and CES Unveiled, which provides one of the first looks at products that will be on the showroom floor. Wednesday, traditionally Press Day at CES, will be devoted to press conferences from some of the big tech companies, including Samsung, LG, Intel and Sony.

I’ll be attending many of the press conferences today and tweeting out some of the highlights.

Meanwhile, it’s already possible to see some of the big themes that will be in play at the show. Among them:

  • Everything’s becoming smart and connected. Among the things on display at CES Unveiled last night were an app-connected beer-brewing machine that helps you make craft brews; a smart mirror that helps you assess your skin conditions and properly apply makeup; and a smart hairbrush that can tell and keep track of whether your hair is damaged or brittle. The sensors and radios that have been jammed into smartphones for years are proliferating and are going into just about any device you can think of.
  • Voice control may be the next big thing. Amazon’s Echo and Google Home will soon be joined by several other intelligent voice assistants. Lenovo has one in the works, as do several startups, including one named Woohoo. At CES Unveiled, there was also a robot named Kuri on display that can be commanded by voice to check on the dog or wake the kids.
  • Many companies are focusing on “smart cars.” Faraday Future unveiled its new car at a press event Tuesday night; one of its primary features — which didn’t go so well in the demo — is the ability to park itself. Other car companies, including Toyota, Hyundai, Honda and Ford, are expected to show off their cutting edge features either on Wednesday or in coming days.
  • 3D printing is on the wane. 3D printing has been one of the big stories at CES over the last several years. But I only saw one 3D printing company at CES Unveiled last night. And according to show organizers, the amount of square footage devoted to such companies at the show is down significantly from past years. While the technology remains interesting and important in commercial markets, it has yet to find big demand among consumers.

Photo: A bartender pours drinks through a CES ice sculpture during CES Unveiled, a pre-show press event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)


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