Three big emerging technology themes from CES 2016

January 13, 2016



How will three major themes that prevailed at CES 2016 impact your organization’s technology strategy?


We dispatched a small, but tenacious team to wade through the morass of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (the biggest ever). There are hundreds of blogs and newsfeeds highlighting the goodness (and strangeness) that erupted from CES – but this post pinpoints the emerging tech themes that could impact our enterprise clients this year.

The Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem

Auto manufacturers at CES 2016 were demonstrating self-driving cars in full force. It’s easy to say that Autonomous Vehicles may be the next big thing. Even though it’s unclear exactly how fast the fully self-driving vehicle will be a reality, innovators are racing to get there. Aside from the impact on transportation and logistics, there are key opportunities for the enterprise to develop and/or manage solutions that will support the Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem.

1) LIDAR, obstacle avoidance systems, sensors, GPS, cameras, CPUs and GPUs, synthetic overlay, and software were demonstrated en mass to the attendees by exhibitors beyond the automobile industry themselves.

2) Vehicles are transitioning from an active to a passive activity. As drivers become riders, they will have time on their hands. Self-driving cars could morph into the ultimate mobile entertainment platform. As a result, displays and interior dashboards were also popular on the show floor.

From transporting products to people, autonomous vehicles are maturing at an accelerated velocity – and the disruption will introduce a range of new opportunities for companies.

The interoperability of everything

In the consumer space, the Internet of Things (IoT) is more than connected discreet things to the internet. The concept of your light bulb being controlled by your phone is so 2012. Based on what we saw on the floor – the focus has shifted to connecting different types of things to other things with software orchestrating how these things will interact. The IoT in 2016 is about interoperability. Instead of hitting a switch to turn on a light from your car, your phone automatically sends a message to your home to turn up the heat, senses when you arrive and opens the garage door, unlocks the door, and as you enter turns off the alarm, turns on the hallway lights, and continues the song you were playing in the car over the home speaker system.

Many of these concepts have been talked about in years prior, but in 2016 products that truly connect many aspects of home life will exist and IoT will move out of beta and into the mainstream. Vendors and manufactures are addressing the largest barrier to growth by extending their products so they can support multiple platforms. The importance of partnerships echoed loudly throughout the connected home and IoT floor.

Synthetic overlay and simulation

Virtual reality and augmented reality are (almost) here. The technology has matured and is quickly becoming an accepted form of interaction and user experience.

Augmented reality is more for the enterprise. It was shown providing step-by-step instructions from a hardhat for field technicians and shown in numerous other products hoping to provide an information overlay on top of our world. For field service and customer service technicians – we see great opportunities to develop and/or utilize this technology in the next 1-3 years. With that, new workflows, teams, and processes will need to be developed to leverage this new way of providing service.

Virtual reality will be the hands of consumers in the forms of games and may also be the future of entertainment. There are opportunities if you are content producer – but enterprise penetration may be slow. The enterprise use cases have not fully presented themselves yet.

However, marketing teams are already finding large value in using VR to demo a user experience in a confined space for products that have historically been regulated solely to in-person experiences with specific settings. This was readily apparent on the show floor as vendors (especially the automotive vendors) leveraged VR to show their technology in a more personal and immersive way.

One final observation

The team observed something they hadn’t seen in previous years:  people were fearlessly interacting with the technology – almost demanding to touch it. The more interactive the booth, the bigger the draw. Fear of technology appears to be a thing of the past. Attendees were interacting more than observing – and you could see they were eager for more. Is it possible that we are truly crossing the divide between the digirati and the mainstream? If we are – then CES 2016 may be the indicator that culture is ready to change.


Tony Anderson contributed to this post.

Image shared by Intel Free Press



Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Mark McCaffery

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email