Ginny Rometty at CES 2016
IBM CEO Ginny Rometty onstage at the IBM Keynote at CES 2016.

Published: January 4th, 2017

Three big themes at CES in Las Vegas for enterprises to watch look to be big data, connected devices or the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI), and sometimes the combination of all three.

CES is one of the largest and most popular technology trade shows offering the latest gadgets for both consumers and IT business professionals and the 2017 edition opens to the public Jan. 5.

This year, enterprise IT department specialists can expect to see the continued reign of data collection, connected devices and artificial intelligence (AI) – and combinations of all three.

IBM Corp., for example, has placed a special focus on encouraging companies to become what it calls a “cognitive business” through using its Watson AI system to understand, reason, learn and make sense of collected data. IBM says this will allow companies to “improve business outcomes and increase revenue.”

Connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) products will also remain a mainstay at this year’s CES, notably giving rise to the integration of tech like voice assistants into existing products. For instance, Amazon Alexa has been incorporated into a wide range of consumer electronics this past year, such as robotic vacuums, air conditioners and cars, and experts predict this will only intensify in 2017 as more companies jump into the fray.

The big trends

Turning our attention to more consumer-centric tech, CES 2017 will boast a large automotive section, with self-driving cars likely being the main focus. Almost every major automaker is hosting a press conference, including Nissan, Hyundai, Toyota, Fiat/Chrysler and BMW, to talk about the future of driving and show off their new concepts.

There will be a dedicated self-driving technology marketplace as well, with nine featured exhibitors including Autoliv, Clarion, Delphi, IAV, Navya, Nvidia, NXP, Renesas and Valeo, unveiling new tech. And as more vehicles become Wi-Fi enabled and connect to cellular data, there will be a mass of new gadgets and software capitalizing on this.

The tech industry’s fascination with drones will also continue to ramp up as more uses for the devices are devised and prices decrease. New models and new specs, such as better cameras, sensors and even better looks, will be some of the exciting unveils at CES this year.

And we can’t forget about virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), which was proven to be a solid market in 2016. Most experts anticipate that tech giants like Sony and Microsoft, which have been investing in the VR segment for years, will unveil a range of new technologies and devices at CES this year, geared specifically towards everyday folks and consumers in addition to gamers.

The popularity of VR and AR will also give rise to more video consumption in 2017, writes CES chief economist Shawn DuBravac. He predicts 2017 will be “the year of video” as visual content infiltrates all aspects of the media, pointing to live photos and video clips like animated GIFs as examples of this. Expect to see companies at CES 2017 take this to heart and showcase devices made specifically for this medium.

The weird stuff

It wouldn’t be CES without some strange or unusual products. Some of the most promising include a levitating speaker developed by LG which literally floats in the air over its base station to spread audio in all directions.

Smart wearables, including smart clothes, belts, and even mood-sensing smart glasses, will also be featured at CES 2017.

Some of the most intriguing oddball products are for the bathroom. We’re already hearing about smart toilets that clean themselves and smart gaming toothbrushes aimed at children.

CES 2017 runs until Jan. 8.

And if you need a refresher from 2016, check out coverage of last year’s event here.