(Tina Sjogren) Last time we visited the CES show was mostly about 3D TV, notebooks and e-readers.

What a difference three years can make.

Tablets are replacing TV screens. Pads are replacing computers. Smartphones are everywhere. Samsung is the new Apple. Qualcomm the new Intel.

Some said we’re moving even beyond the smartphone and tablet age.

Our gear is about to start talking to each other. Our cars will drive themselves. We’ll be our own doctors. Connectivity is the new social.

All this chatter will result in massive amounts of data. This information will be curated in the cloud, edited, personalized and pushed back to us.

Something’s in the air and no one knows exactly what it is. 2013 will be the year of mass adoption, when we truly accept technology as an important part of progress and evolution. The past few years will feel like a turtle’s pace compared to what’s about to come.

Here go numbers, facts and thinking behind such claims, overheard at various keynotes and sessions at the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

Beyond the smartphone

In 2000 US mobile phone subscriptions surpassed 109 million and worldwide users surpassed 1 billion. According to Samsung president Stephen Woo today there are more than 6 billion mobile devices in use (there are 7 billion people in the world).

In the near future, kids will ask their parents, “why do they call it a phone?” 65% of mobile use is now non-communication.

Smartphones are rapidly becoming the view finder of our digital life. With us everywhere, they know everything about us and provide tremendous opportunities to assist our lives.

Transforming into a central processor in our pocket connecting to everything else – companies building immersive experiences for the consumer on the smartphone are projected winners.

Android leading the pack

In the third quarter of 2012 Android owned 75 percent of the global smartphone market. Apple was a distant second with 14.9 percent. The iPhone 5 has showed weak sales and the most popular app on the iPhone right now are actually Google maps.

One reason behing Samsung’s success is a massive marketing offense, talking less tech and more lifestyle.

A Nielsen presentation at CES said Android customers are motivated by price and Android have more of the prepaid customers; while iOS folks are more flush, drive the commerce boom, and brand is 4 times more important for them.

As for the HTML5 vs. app debate: People prefer to browse apps; web is only a fifth of the activity. For monetization: 77% of the apps are free, 5% are paid the rest are fremiums. The paid share is growing.

Bandwidth and power

Bandwidth and power remain a challenge. Build-outs don’t help. Consumers upgrading from 3G to 4G quadruple their usage. Sprint said that 1% of their users actually generate 33% of traffic, “they stream TV!”

(On a Verizon grandfather plan. You know who you are Tom.)


Successful app developers must must be smarter and optimize to work in congested environments.

Samsung’s new processor Exynos5 Octa is made to run intense apps while also conserving energy.

There’s hope that millions of small cells – little routers such as femtos – will relieve at least some of the band congest.

China first

Typically at CES, only a few years ago show giants were Nokia, Microsoft etc. Chinese tech brands were relegated to the International Pavilion.

This year Google had major presence and Samsung was center stage. Several of the coolest products in the television and household sections were available only in China and scheduled to launch in US only later this year.


The big question is where the TV experience will land. CES showcased amazingly crisp screens and 3D tech. Various add-ons offered smart services.

Studies show 80% folks use tablets while they watch TV. 50% for more info about the show. Tablets also increasingly replace bedroom TV sets.

Connected devices

There’s huge growth in connected devices and curation (services). Cisco said 1 trillion devices will be connected in 2013. Just 1 billion of those will be the mobile devices we use today.

Increasing density enables the digitization of everyday things. The resulting data offers a Google analytics for the real world.

The challenges

The challenge for data miners is to sift signal from all the noise. The challenge for service providers is to create features that are easily accessible, intuitive, make life simpler, and give people back their time. We also want fewer devices (no one wears watches anymore).

In an age of algorithms data is the new currency. Sensor manufacturers and curators resist data share which slows valuable information mining.

The possibilities

Interestingly, all the connected devices – even our cars – are turning into APIs. The time is ripe for a new platform, created out of all these devices, personalized “to me” and made smarter by developers.

Intuitive sensors that minimize active interaction, connect and curate data most efficiently, and provide the right information at the right time will be most successful.

So will the tech companies who don’t solve problems but preempt them.


Expensive medical plans, astronomical hospital bills, drug-pushing doctors, flesh eating bacteria and general financial distress force people in US to increasingly take charge of their own health. 1 In 3 uses the web to help with diagnoses.

The affluent approach from a different angle, using self tracking tools for general self-quantification.

Combined, this sets stage for what Arianna Huffington called “The perfect storm for fundamental change in health.”

The movement is enabled by smartphones, sensors, various apps, gadgets and improved bluetooth.

Trackers built into bracelets, clip-ons – even band-aids – log pulse, heart ECG, blood pressure, workout level, calories burned and consumed, perspiration, temperatures, mood and sleep. A digital fork tells if you eat too fast.

Strips inserted into digital monitors test at home for cholesterol and glucose. Other personal tests can screen your DNA, hormones, thyroid, vitamin levels and more.

Social health websites help you get in touch with folks suffering similar conditions and (in the future), similar gene pool. Correlation platforms will aid bioinformatics, helping synthesize data to actual information.

The chatter can be scraped for treatment outcomes and matched with new medical discoveries for truly personalized care. The Star Trek medical Tricorder is closer than you think.

A scale connected over wifi to your computer might not seem like much – until it spits out data showing exactly when you put on the weight and when you lost it. An app allows you already to take a picture of your moles and check them for cancer.

This technology is best experienced. Manufacturers and developers now work to minimize your effort – the goal is for the data to basically log itself and push back information to you only when it’s relevant.

30 million wearable devices were shipped last year, 60 million are expected to ship this year and 44 million health apps will be downloaded. Down the road, you will swallow pills that will diagnose you internally and send the info from your body to your phone. The information will be processed and then sent back to you.

Deepak Chopra said at CES that 80 percent of all cancers are treated in the community – not Stanford – so we must not only support research, but take sophisticated to where the people are. New diagnostic tools help treatment.

Chopra also said that 80% of pharmaceutical are for stress, anxiety, and constipation (Arianna talked a lot about stress). Tracking physical training, sleep patterns, and nutrition intake could help people understand what regulates their mood and nudge them in the right direction.

Continuity of data is the biggest problem and beyond automatization, sensor developers work hard on design. Misfit Shine raised almost a million on crowd funder IndieGogo for their necklace vision. Jawbone Up bracelet is another crowd pleaser.

“It’s a crisis, there’s no more money for healthcare, while a freight train is coming at us with an obesity epidemic,” said the moderator at the CES digital health opening session. With 75% of healthcare spending being spent on preventable disease, “it’s critical that these companies succeed,” he stressed.

Digital health has to happen. Better yet, in the future telecom companies have a chance to become the backbone of the health care system, delivering healthcare to everybody anywhere, while the apps and gadgets may well be sponsored by brands from the food, sports and outdoor industry.

CES 2013 innovation awards

CES 2013 best health gadgets

Last word

There was lots more on the trade show this year. The sensor craze spans everything – from wifi connected water level sensor for plants, to trackers for socks, shoes and cats. Sifteo and flexible screens (although not really there yet) showed the changing face of computing.

And yet, 75% of mobile users still don’t know how to turn on wifi or BT on their phone. Looking around the audience during talks it was also striking that a majority took notes using regular paper and pen 🙂

Sources: 2013 CES trends to watch by Shawn Dubravac; Nielsen ratings audience measurement systems (Android data); the Next Big Thing 2013 CES super session, Digital Health 2013 CES super session.

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