CES 2015 officially kicks off in Las Vegas tomorrow, and we know certain innovations are going to set the tone for what becomes the most sought-after technologies for 2015. More than 50 Massachusetts companies will be in attendance, and many of them will be representing the top trends.
Here are a few common themes that we expect to be strong at CES, and the local companies that are helping to embody them.
The Connected Home
For more than 10 years, CES has featured smart refrigerators, security systems, lighting and other appliances that give people better control over their homes. But could this be its big breakout year? Stay tuned.
Ecovent is one startup aiming to help the revolution truly begin. The Techstars Boston grad will be showing off its wireless smart thermostat system, which aims to give homeowners the ability to regulate the temperature of their houses room by room, thus boosting comfort and lowering utility bills.
Another local company that fits this theme is Savant Systems. The Hyannis, Mass.-based luxury smart home technology firm, which raised $90 million in funding back in September, recently launched a new app that lets homeowners control lighting, climate and entertainment—with the goal of achieving a full-fledged smart home. The capabilities, according to Savant, are ideal whether you’re aiming to build a basic media room or a more complex whole-house integration.
In some respects wearables are actually just getting weirder. But, thankfully, in others they are evolving to become increasingly efficient, smarter and more attractive overall. This year, the product category is poised to gain even more traction, as research allows companies to develop better battery life and more useful features for their technologies. Oh, and the fact that the Apple Watch is due out early 2015 is definitely fueling the fire.
SunSprite is one Massachusetts-based company that will be at CES to show off its small wearable, which measures sunlight intake to help ensure you’re getting the right amount. The firm was founded by two Harvard Medical School doctors out of a recognition that a lack of sunlight exposure is a primary factor that contributes to depression — especially in the winter time.
Then there’s MC10, which aims to make humans more superhuman via unique electronics that conform to humans by bending, stretching and flexing. Customers for its technology so far have included Reebok. At CES this year, the Cambridge company is taking part in the inaugural Sports Tech conference, in which the team will share how MC10’s technology is helping athletes of all sports and levels improve their performance. Sports legend and TV personality Taylor Twellman, who is currently ESPN’s lead analyst for Major League Soccer, also serves on MC10’s advisory board and will be on site to offer his insights on their products.
Saugus startup ONvocal, meanwhile, is debuting its first product, Mix360, at CES. The Bluetooth “hearable device” and accompanying app allows you to custom mix ambient sounds, music, phone calls and even your own voice. Mix360 also got the honor of being chosen as a 2015 CES Innovations Design & Engineering Honoree in two categories: Wearable Technology and Wireless Handset Accessories.
Between order-filling robots at Amazon (via Massachusetts-based Kiva Systems) and robot security guards at Microsoft, robots infiltrated a hefty number of companies in 2014. As one indication of how things are shaping up for 2015, a whole section at CES will be dedicated to drones for the first time.
At CES 2014, Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot demonstrated its brand new floor cleaning bot the Scooba 450. Details are scant on exactly what the company will be showing off this year, but you can expect demos on its catalog of machines for the home, business and also defense/security purposes.
Arguably the most entertaining bot that attendees will encounter is the Empire Robotics Versaball Gripper. The machine is capable of gripping objects — an ability it intends to use to generate some fun at CES, as it competes against humans in a beer pong tournament.
New television technologies have historically been a highlight of CES, and 2015 will be no different. This year the buzzword is 4K — the next generation of high-resolution TVs. And while these TVs have existed for several years now, 2015 may very well be the year they go mainstream.
QD Vision, an MIT spinout, is among those getting in on the trend, leveraging a complex technology (quantum dots) that promises to provide a better backlight than LED, with the goal of making pictures look clearer, bolder and brighter. And a number of notable electronics companies have leveraged the company’s technology: Like Sony, for its “Triluminous Display” TVs. At this year’s CES, Chinese electronics maker TCL is debuting a 55-inch Quantum Dot TV with Lexington, Mass.-based QD Vision’s Color IQ Optics. The TV will soon go on sale in Europe and Asia-Pacific.