Observer’s Notebook: CES Trend Takeaways

LAS VEGAS — At this writing, my feet have logged three days and 15.2 miles of walking the 1.8 million square feet of the 2014 International CES, with two days of the show still to go. Here are the bigger takeaways so far.

1. This is the year we all were made acutely aware of how dumb our homes are — along with everything in them. It is Sensor City at CES this year, with everything from connected toothbrushes (perhaps to go with last year’s connected forks?) to connected washing machines (which will send you a text message if you forget to move a load to the dryer).

People call this “the Internet of things,” of course, and “the Internet of everything.”

A common refrain during demos: “And after you pair your (name of dumb thing) to your house, you can (make your house/your thing) smart.” Ask the oven what it’s doing. Ask the dishwasher. The garage door. It goes on and on and on.

2: If it doesn’t come with a sensor, it comes with a camera. We saw a small rubber ball outfitted with six tiny cameras for law enforcement to throw or roll into a location to get a better look before entering, and cameras that clip onto a bathing suit to stream live video directly to Facebook. (Great.)

3. Health and fitness gadgets, which go under the category of “wearable technology,” took up 25,000 square feet of exhibit space this year and are further proof that CES is a hypochondriac’s paradise. Alongside the now-saturated wearable pedometer marketplace, there were wristbands that measure the amount of sun your skin is getting, and gadgets that collect 5,000 data points from your body — every hour.

There was even a fitness collar for your dog, to track its breathing and heart rate and so on. (A companion app ties to veterinarians and health records.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention 4K television, which also goes by Ultra HD. It was (predictably) everywhere and, sure, it’s gorgeous. It’s also still way ahead of the rest of the television ecosystem, from the cameras that can film in 4K, to the HDMI connector on the set itself — and everything in between.

I’ll stick with a 2013 observation about 4K: If it’s of interest to you, find somewhere else for the bookcase, or whatever else is currently occupying your largest wall.

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