The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show wraps up on Saturday, and we’ve seen a lot of announcements from well-known companies including Lenovo, Samsung, Dell, HP, and Acer. But while CES is a big event for tech reporters, it’s an even bigger deal for small companies looking to connect with one another (or with bigger companies).
A number of years ago when netbooks were just starting to become popular, I noticed that there were dozens of manufacturers from Asia showing tiny netbooks in tiny booths at the CES International Gateway area. A few years later the same thing happened with tablets.
So I decided to see what kind of tech was trending this year at the area that’s now called the Global Technology Marketplace.
Over the past few years, a number of these Chinese companies have moved their booths to the main show floor areas at the Las Vegas Convention Center or the Sands Convention Center. But there are still a lot of companies from China, Korea, and other Asian markets showing their stuff at the Global Technology Marketplace area at the Westgate (which used to be the Hilton).
So what are these companies showing off these days? Hoverboards. Lots and lots of hoverboards (or self-balancing two-wheel vehicles… but everyone seems to be calling them hoverboards fro some reason).
There is one less exhibitor showing hoverboard-esque products today than there was at the start of the show, though.
Sure, these things have been in the news lately for their tendency to catch fire. Airlines and universities are banning them. But that’s just going to make your kids want to date them more… right?
VR headsets are also everywhere. A lot of them are basically Google Cardboard/Samsung Gear VR-style devices that let you strap a smartphone to your face. But some companies are showing off their own hardware complete with screens and processors.
GoPro-style action cameras, smartwatches fitness trackers, and drones of various sizes also seem to be popular items this year. Perennial favorites including smartphone cases and Bluetooth speakers were also well represented, and I found a lot of companies showing off USB Type-C hubs and docking stations.
Computer and TV mounts and camera and smartphone tripods and selfie sticks are also everywhere and it’s kind of hard to distinguish one from the next. But then I came across this booth:
Yup. It’s a camera stand that attaches to the top of a bottle of soda… with a penguin head as the connector. It’s kind of dumb and kind of brilliant at the same time. It’s also one of the few things I saw at the show that didn’t look exactly like the products available at a nearby booth.
The Global Technology area is also where I found the 8S Mobile dual-screen smartphone, which isn’t exactly an original concept… but it’s one that I singled out because it seems to be a well-executed version of that concept.
I didn’t see as many tablets or notebooks this year as in previous years, but there were definitely some… and a lot more smartphones than in the past. TV boxes were also pretty common, and at least one booth had a sign for a new PC Stick with an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor that looked more than a little bit like a rebranded version of Intel’s new Compute Stick.
Want to get a feel for what it’s like to walk through the global marketplace at CES? If this video doesn’t make you dizzy, you can take a stroll with me by clicking play:
You can also check out the photo gallery below for some more pictures from my tour of the Global Technology Marketplace.