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CES 2014 Preview: What's Next in Digital

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Forget regular Christmas because Nerd Christmas (aka International CES) is here. What do you need to know about what’s in store for market watchers as they descend onto Las Vegas this week?

One thing is for sure: 78 percent of Fortune 100 companies will be on-hand to show off consumer electronic goods not made by Apple, Google or Microsoft. Here’s a quick #ces2014 preview:

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Car Tech

CES has grown to feature lots of automobile exhibits, and 2014 will be no exception. Expect exhibits from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes and Toyota, in addition to CES’s Driverless Car Experience and GoElectricDrive. However the big news is that the “official car” of CES 2014 is the new Ford Mustang. No doubt there will be a team of hackers working around the clock trying to hack one of these ponies.

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Internet of Things

With new tech platforms like iOS 7’s iBeacon, the “Internet of Things” is likely to begin its march into the real world in 2014, and that starts at CES. Lowes, the big-box home retailer, will be exhibiting across 10 categories, including “Connected Home;” “Wireless Devices;” and “Entertainment/Content,” to show off Iris, Lowe’s cloud-based home-device-connecting “internet of things” brand. Even if critics say the “Internet of Stuff” is still beyond the horizon, it will be front-and-center at CES.

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Once again, apps will nudge their way into a crowded field at CES, supported by The Wall of Apps, which will display the best apps of the previous year, and a Mobile Apps Showdown, which will pit new app developers against each other to prove they have the best app through a four-minute presentation followed by an audience applause-o-meter. So if you’re bringing an app to CES, bring your friends, too.

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With all the noise from other types of products, CES has diminished as a place to launch new mobile devices, which is why Samsung might fill the void at CES 2014 with an early surprise launch of the Galaxy S5 and maybe even the Galaxy Round or other sorts of bendable screen devices with 64-bit processors to catch up with Apple’s processor speeds.

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Wearable Tech

So far, it’s a niche being dominated by Google Glass and Samsung Gear’s wristwatch. But CES should have a fresh new wave of wearable tech, including competitors with their own watches and glasses. CES also promises other types of wearable gear, like jackets that adjusts to the weather and handbags that change color, including whole areas for MommyTech and Kids@Play.

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3-D Printing

With 25+ registered exhibitors for 3-D printing technology, CES 2014 could prove to be a real jaw-dropper. From high-end operators working to create prototypes for manufacturing and medical needs to consumer-grade models that can print toys and clothes and food and guns and -- wait, not guns, right?

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One thing that makes CES a leader in the year’s narratives in the tech world are the keynote addresses from various industry leaders, and CES 2014 looks like no exception with talks from Sony’s president and CEO Kazuo Hirai; Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich; and Marissa Mayer, CEO, President and Director of Yahoo! How will Intel compete in the mobile market? What does Sony have up its sleeve? Will Yahoo! buy a vowel for Tumblr? These keynotes will set tech narratives for at least the first two quarters of 2014.

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