January, CES 2016 – At the press day, a prelude for the Consumer Electronics Show 2016, Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist of the Consumer Technology Association presented to the media, the sales and forecast trends for the consumer electronics industry for the coming year.  He presented there are five factors that were developing over the years and are now a reality of daily-life. These are: ubiquitous computing, cheap digital storage, connectivity, the proliferation of digital devices and the sensor’ization of tech. Coming to the CES ten or fifteen years ago the electronics industry was focused on what is technologically possible, how far we can push the technology boundaries.  In the last few months it has changed, and it shifting from what is possible to what is meaningful. In other words, it can be described as moving forward from solving one fragmented task to the meaningful solution for the problem. Once the technology foundations were set, the door was open to having an important and useful quality and purpose. That also got us to the Inflection Point for the Consumer Tech Industry. Now, 51% of the revenue in the consumer electronics marketplace is driven by 5 categories: smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and TV. They created a little over half of the revenue in the electronics industry. But that is going to change soon. Sometime next year the revenue generated by those 5 categories will be less than half because other categories are growing on fast pace.

The Chief Economist announced the new trends that will be leading the industry in 2016. They are: Ambient Sensing, Aggregated Learning and Maturing of Nascent Ecosystems.

The Ambient Sensing trend started in early 2014 when Mimo Smart baby breathing and activity monitor was announced at CES. Mimo allows real-time monitoring of the sleeping baby by sending a message right on the phone, no matter where the parent is. It sends an alert message when the factors such as breathing, body position or temperature change. It is an example of capturing the environment of the baby sleeping, measuring it and notifying the parents. At CES 2016 as indication of more meaningful use we have: Ecoisme, a single device to track the energy usage of each individual appliance or gadget at home, DietSensor, a nutrition coach for food and Sensum, a software platform for measuring emotions and behaviors responds. This is the direction that the industry is heading.

The second trend stated by DuBravac was Aggregated Learning. The last year it was predictive customization of Netflix and its redefining recommendation. The other example of Aggregated Learning is how quickly technology advanced. It can be shown by following the history of word error rate in speech recognition. In 1995 it was almost 100%, in 2013 it dropped to 23%, and to 5% in 2015. Within 18 months the improvement that was made was phenomenal from 23% to 5%. It was possible by sharing the information in different platforms. In 2016 the picture of Aggregated Learning is the “roadway” to define what the Autonomous Vehicles are? By now Google Autonomous Cars have been driven over 1.6 million kilometers. Soon all information will be shared with all fleet of the vehicle and stop signs and traffic lights. Chief Economist pointed out 5 levels of Automation in cars: LO – No-Automation, L1 Function-specific Automation, L2 Combined Function Automation, L3 Limited Self-Driving Automation and L4 Full Self-Driving Automation. DuBravac predicted we will see full autonomous vehicles by 2020, with 1 million sold by 2030. By 2045 half of the cars sold may be fully autonomous.

The third trend Maturing of Nascent Ecosystems, is associated with the categories that growing on fast pace such as Virtual Reality, Wearables and Drones. With several notable VR headsets as such Ricoh Theta and the Panono 360 camera, coming to market in 2016, CTA expects unit sales to increase by 500 percent over the last year, to reach 1.2 million units sold. Total revenue is projected to reach $540 million, a 440% increase. Wearables that are led by the popularity of Fitness Activity Trackers and Smart Watches, unit sales among all wearables in 2016 are forecast to reach 38.4 million units. Fitness activity trackers volumes will hit 17.4 million units in 2016, a 12% increase in one year, with revenue reaching $1.3 billion. Smart Watches are expected to increase 28% to 13.6 million units sold, earning $3.7 billion in revenue, and an increase of 22%. In this category in 2016 we will see Reliefband, Oara Ring,  Lumiwave, Ombra and hexoskin, that making their splash at CES. The total forecast for 2016 drone sales tops 2.8 million units, up to 149% from 2015, and $953 million in shipment revenues (a 115% increase from last year). In that category CES 2016 will show Onagofly and Fleye.

The Chief Economist of CTA also presented the forecast sales for other categories such as 4K TV and 3D Printers. After a banner year of sales growth in 2015 that saw LCD TV shipments climb 10% to top 39 million units, the TV market should reach a steady state in 2016. CTA projects revenues will reach $19 billion for all TV sets and displays in 2016, on par with 2015, as volumes drop 1% just under 40 million units. 2016 will be a phenomenal year for 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) TVs, driven in part by the market introduction of next-generation technologies, with shipment of 4K UHD displays projected to reach 13 million units (an 83% increase), CTA expects revenue from 4K UHD displays in 2016 to top $10 billion, marking a 65% increase. The expanding diversity of 3D Printing capabilities will drive the sector’s growth in 2016. CTA expects 3D printer sales to increase 64% from 2015, to reach 179 thousand units sold, with total revenue of $152 million, a 38% increase. CTA expects the Smart Homes technology category, including smart thermostats, smart smoke and CO2 detectors, IP/Wi-Fi cameras, smart locks, smart home systems, and smart switches, dimmers and outlets to reach 8.9 million units sold in 2016, a 21 % increase, with $1.2 billion in revenue.

It is supposed to be another great year for consumer electronics industry.