The Consumer Electronics Show, the year’s largest gadget expo, gets underway next week. Historically, it has been the place for major electronics companies to show off their most amazing and futuristic wares.
Here’s a quick list of stuff that debuted at CES: the VCR, the audio cassette, the Pong home console, affordable digital watches, the Nintendo Entertainment System, Tetris, the Apple Newton, and the Palm Pre. Here’s an awesome photo roundup of past CESes.
It hasn’t been that way for a while; technology is no longer a niche market for hobbyists, and the introduction of new gadgets is major national news, so the big companies have stopped announcing flagship products or stopped attending CES altogether. Why bury your news among a thousand other products when you can wait a few weeks and have the news cycle all to yourself? This year, Microsoft isn’t even attending, and the other real players in tech–Apple, Google, and Amazon–either haven’t attended in years or have never bothered.
But that also opens the door for smaller companies, which have a larger platform during CES than they’d have normally. We don’t know exactly what to expect from them, because those companies often are not on our radar until they reveal something that wows us on the show floor. Barring that, here are some other things we’re pretty sure we’ll see.