Events

How Revealing is CES Unveiled?

CES Unveiled crowd

For as long as we’ve been covering CES, the opening event for press—preceding the opening of the show itself—has been CES Unveiled. It’s a smaller event that’s also held by the Consumer Technology Association, and it gives a glimpse at some of the technology that you can expect to see at CES itself.

This year is no exception, as CES Unveiled again heralds the start of CES for press and analysts. A new, larger location for the event also made it seem more dense with vendors, though no less crowded.

If you take the vendors who presented at Unveiled as an indication of this year’s trends, we should expect to see plenty of drones, virtual reality rigs, and connected wearables hit the market this year. Of course, that’s not all that was on display at Unveiled, but it’s certainly what caught of a lot of the attendees attention, which means it’s what’s likely to get the press play. Which has us asking this question: How revealing is CES Unveiled about CES and consumer technology trends, in general?

Drones and wearables aren’t exactly in our wheelhouse, but we did find a few products of interest on the floor that didn’t necessarily get as much attention from the crowds.

Hunter Fan was showing a HomeKit-compatible ceiling fan/light combination that it expects to release in the first half of this year. You can use HomeKit sensors, apps, and rules to automatically control and manage the features of these fans. This is probably the closest we’ve seen to true automation on the HomeKit platform, and we have an interview with them that we’ll feature in an upcoming episode of Home: On.

Marathon Laundry control panelSpeaking of HomeKit-compatibility and connected devices, Marathon Laundry was showing off a combination washer/dryer [editor’s note: why haven’t these caught on more?] that purports to integrate with HomeKit. Through what appears to be personalized and big data crunching, Marathon can optimize and personalize your laundry experience in your home, dorm, or apartment. Our biggest concern: All controls are served up on a touchscreen panel with a UI that needs to mature before enjoying mass acceptance.

IMG_0071Nu Ans [pronounced “nuance”] is a brand of Windows Phone, featuring Windows 10 mobile, that’s now available in Japan and anticipating a North American release later this year. The phones are a bit chunky, but with respectable specs and, perhaps more importantly, a clever modular design that includes concealed storage for a credit or identity card, they’ve differentiated with a unique “cool” factor.

Of course, some of the big names were there, too:

Lenovo introduced a few products that caught our attention: The Ideacentre 610 and the X1 Tablet. Both feature a modular design with optional pico projector attachments that can transform the devices into self-contained presentation machines—or maybe even a media room projector.

Alarm.com announced new security camera monitoring on Apple TV and Fire TV, Echo integration, and that slick Apple Watch control and monitoring app Apple demonstrated on stage many months back.

Kwikset showed off a HomeKit-compatible deadbolt similar to the SmartCode lock we reviewed last Fall. Additionally, we should expect to see updated Kevo hardware with a smaller interior footprint and a Kevo retrofit kit that can turn any deadbolt into a Kevo-compatible lock (less the touch-to-unlock feature, of course).

So what about audio and video? No 4K? No immersive audio? Well, this venue doesn’t lend itself to demonstrating those types of products…which is one of the reasons we feel that this event doesn’t necessarily reveal the true trends of CES. But there will be time for us to enjoy 16K and 24.1.10 theater technology later this week. For now, we’ll be researching the 38 new products that promise new ways to more accurately track our steps at the show.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.

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