At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), every big tech brand and new start-up clamors to be named “the next big thing.” So, it can be difficult to sift through the noise and determine what breakthroughs are primed to be legitimate game-changers, and which innovations are merely shiny toys to be admired once and, ultimately, left by the wayside.
This year, HZ dispatched a team to explore CES, and for the last few days, they’ve been taking in the excitement, chaos, and innovation right from the conference floor in Las Vegas. We’ll post a full CES rundown tomorrow—but in the meantime, here’s what’s generating the biggest buzz.
1. Virtual Reality Prices Soar
While Oculus VR founder and Rift developer Palmer Luckey previously stated that the long-anticipated virtual reality headset would cost “in the ballpark of $350,” the company announced at CES that the price tag will be closer to $599.
Tech fans took to Twitter to express their collective outrage, arguing that at a 60% price bump, we’re talking a mighty big ballpark.
In an effort to quash the backlash, Palmer offered surprising transparency and honesty in an AMA, explaining via Reddit the breakdown of costs for the VR headset. He also apologized for his previous pricing estimates, and offered several updates regarding software, games, and accessories Rift buyers can expect.
2. Netflix Goes Global
Netflix has expanded to 130 new countries across all seven continents—and that global takeover happened during chief executive Reed Hasting’s keynote yesterday. With that news, it’s looking like World War III will not be a conflict of nations, but rather a battle between cable companies and the streaming moguls who singlehandedly rendered Blockbuster obsolete. The upside? Binge-watching Making a Murderer can soon commence in far-flung locales.
3. Old Age Is Just a Suit Away
At 18, I could sleep on a concrete floor and wake up ready to hike Everest. By 25, sleeping on a memory foam-equipped queen bed at a slightly strange angle renders my body sore for days.
Aging is the great equalizer—none of us can escape the passing of time. Maybe that’s why donning Genworth’s r70i aging suit has been such a buzzworthy experience for CES goers and the media alike. Read Quartz’s review of the suit here.
The “Walking in My Grandfather’s Body” exhibition is an educational experience that offers insight into time’s effect on everything from joints to organs. When users put on the suit, a digitally driven exoskeleton simulates the experience of aging in a matter of minutes, which means the wearer gets the full effect of hearing challenges, glaucoma, arthritis, and more. Kinda cool—and a little scary.
4. Smart Is the New Standard
Sneakers, bras, watches, beds—it seems every inanimate object you’ve ever encountered is destined to get smart. This isn’t entirely surprising, as wearables and interactive home technology topped nearly every “What to expect at CES 2016” list we came across—but it is making us think twice about that refrigerator strategy.
5. CES Has Been Hijacked by Strippers
Seriously. Though not affiliated with the electronics show in any way, local nightlife spots have taken over the #CES2016 hashtag, leveraging the social media buzz around the event for their own gain. As a convention of this scale gains in popularity, it makes sense that the social and entertainment aspects will grow in tandem with the networking element. Business, meet pleasure—this is Vegas, after all.
Sphero’s miniature, fully functioning BB8 droid is already one of the coolest gadgets to hit the market this year—and it’s about to get even more impressive. Sphero debuted the tentatively titled “Force Band”—planned for release later this year—which allows you to control the mini robot with simple hand gestures. Put us on the waitlist, please.