With 2017 at an end, the next annual consumer electronics showcase - formally known as CES 2018 - is rapidly approaching, with the doors on the Las Vegas-based event set to open on January 7. The event will run for five days, until January 12, giving attendees plenty of time to explore the year's incoming innovations and manufacturers time to show off new products and technologies. Leading up to the event, the majority of what will be revealed or shown has remained unknown. Although many of the companies that are taking part will, of course, put on their own presentations further on in the year to showcase mainstay products, there will almost certainly be new product reveals. CES is, of course, not limited to smartphones or mobile technologies. Going beyond those, there are likely to be new products across the gamut of technology and something to interest just about anybody - ranging from medical devices and wearables to televisions and auto. Meanwhile, a number of predictions, rumors, and expectations that have been put forward over the last several months for the event will finally be either confirmed or set aside.
With the recent shift in focus for the industry moving to center around A.I.-driven solutions, artificial intelligence will likely to take center stage for many of the announcements made and products shown at this year's CES. In fact, one of the leading names in the commercialization of A.I. products and services - namely, Google - will have its own booth at CES 2018. Incredibly, that marks the first time the company will be appearing on its own at the event but, given the search giant's efforts in A.I. over the past year, it wouldn't be altogether surprising if new announcements were made on that front. Looking past those achievements, which run from new machine learning creation tools to new uses of A.I. itself across all of its services, the company could have some new products to show off as well. Google official store listing for its Pixel-branded Chromebook was, after all, recently removed and rumors have circulated that new versions are in the works. On the other hand, the company is also rumored to be working on new smart home products and has recently released several of those as well. So it is possible that the company either has some new hardware to unveil and doesn't want to wait until its own Google I/O event later this year or that it simply wants to show off its accomplishments at the highly publicized event.
A.I. is also expected to be a big topic with regard to the automotive technologies showcased at the expo, thanks to a renewed push to bring self-driving vehicles to the consumer market. For clarity, there are at least a dozen world regions in which local governments are actively moving the timeline forward for when automated cars and trucks will hit the mainstream. Bearing that in mind, CES is one of the biggest events for technology in the world and the U.S. will arguably be at the forefront, or at very least a major player, in that burgeoning industry. So anybody following the events of CES 2018 is likely to find a lot of activity in that segment of the market. Moreover, automakers from Ford to Mercedes-Benz are expected to show off brand new concept vehicles inspired by the movement of technologies and advances in design expression over the past year. Of course, technology for the auto industry will include other advances too. Well-established in-car entertainment companies JVC and Kenwood, for example, are both expected to unveil new wireless media options based on the Android Auto platform.
Alongside the growth of A.I., the technology industry has also seen a surge of innovative ideas and concepts in terms of wearables and smart home products. So it almost goes without saying that CES 2018 will feature electronics in that category from companies eager to reveal their latest virtual, augmented, and mixed reality advancements. With any luck, Magic Leap will be included in that group and may even show off the nearly complete interactive music-based mixed reality project it has been working on for the past several years with the Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros. Meanwhile, there has been substantial progress for VR and AR platform as well. That means that companies such as Lenovo, HTC, and others could use CES to tout their standalone VR headsets, while other industry leaders such as Microsoft could show off new innovations of their own. With regard to the smart home, companies will be showing off a new range of connected products meant to enhance daily tasks and improve standards of living. Among those products that have been confirmed to be making an appearance is a new line of IoT-connected doorbells from Blink. However - with consideration for the huge investments any number of companies has been pouring into the IoT and supporting networks - it is extremely unlikely that CES 2018 won't provide the perfect platform for a wealth of new ideas on that front extending well beyond what Blink has planned. That could include new products in the smart clothing and accessories categories too.
The expo is also a unique opportunity for companies to show off improvements to more well-established electronics, as well, including televisions, mobile devices, and audio equipment. That's also likely to include computers, laptops, and convertibles designed for both personal and business or enterprise use, as well as innovations in the components those are comprised of. Some noteworthy examples include expected device reveals from Sony, LG, and Samsung. Sony, for its part, is expected to show off the first new handset to be powered by Qualcomm's up-and-coming Snapdragon 845 chipset. On the other hand, Samsung may finally unveil its long-rumored foldable ruggedized smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy X, as well as new handsets belonging to its A series of devices. LG, in the meantime, is expected to highlight a new run in its K series of smartphones. Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi could also make big appearances, as manufacturers seek to grow competition with LG and Samsung on a more global scale.
Setting those devices aside, LG could also be set to show off a new line of OLED monitors and TVs, following the company's efforts from last year to boost productivity at its own production and research facilities. Those will, of course, be met by new showings from Samsung, Vizio, and others in that portion of the electronics industry, following new innovations in video encoding, HDR, and resolution over the past year. Additionally, those new displays are expected to be backed up by new audio equipment, with companies like LG expected to announce and demonstrate new smart speakers and sound systems featuring support for Dolby Atmos. Along those same lines, there may be new reveals relating to A.I.-assisted headphones or earbuds in the mix to round things out. Finally, there will undoubtedly be an array of new technologies shown at CES 2018 that simply could not have been predicted, making this year's event - like those before it - as exciting a prospect as ever.