Four Tech Trends Spotted At Samsung’s IFA Event

Earlier today at the IFA trade show in Berlin, Samsung announced four new products coming this fall. Besides Galaxy Note 4, the expected update of its popular “phablet” series, the South Korean tech giant also unveiled Galaxy Note Edge, the new Gear S smartwatch, and the Gear VR, a virtual reality headset. Throughout the event, four major industry trends stood out with each of Samsung’s new offerings:

The screens are getting bigger

With Apple rumored to introduce iPhones with bigger screens next week, it came as no surprise that Samsung doubled down its “phablet” offering with Note 4 and Note Edge, along with a smartwatch that features a 2-inch screen. But the screens aren’t just getting bigger; they are also getting curvy. The futuristic Galaxy Note Edge features a display that curves around one side of the phone and a special OS that makes good use of the warped screen. Plus, the new Gear S also has a curved screen that fits on your wrist naturally

The smartwatch is coming into its own

Having released five smartwatches since the initial introduction of its Samsung Gear last year, Samsung stepped up its wearable game by introducing a vastly improved Gear S. Thanks to its nano-SIM card support, the Gear S can make calls, receive emails and texts, and generally operate semi-independently. It does not completely operate as a standalone, but it does point to a future where smartwatches might become less of an accessory and more of an independently functional device.

Tech continues to collaborate with fashion brands

The trend of consumer tech teaming up with fashion brands continues as Samsung collaborates with Swarovski to offer crystal-studded phone cases for Note 4 and similarly bedazzled straps for Gear S. The collaboration follows a successful partnership between the two brands at the recent NY Fashion Week. This trend will most certainly continue, as such integration helps normalizing the otherwise “geeky” new tech products in a way that is mutually beneficial for both industries.

Virtual reality is on the rise

Samsung is pushing in on the virtual reality trend with a headset. Built in partnership with Oculus, the Samsung Gear VR allows users to wirelessly mount the new Galaxy Note 4 in front of their eyes and use the device for gaming and watching movies. Samsung is also teaming up with major media companies to produce entertainment content specifically made for immersive virtual reality experiences.

CES 2014: Trends To Watch

Shawn G. DuBravac, the Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), kicked off CES 2014’s press events today by outlining four key trends he expects to see at this year’s conference:

1. Mass Customization

If the second Industrial Revolution (1860-1945) focused on mass production, we are now entering a third Industrial Revolution emphasizing “mass customization.” This started with websites like Café Press, custom stamps, and customizable sneakers from Nike, Puma, and Chuck Taylor. More recently Google’s Motorola X and the Kindle Fire’s mayday video platform pushed the envelope on customizable features and services.

DuBravac says 3D printing will be a “tremendous story this year” that extends the customization trend.  Similarly the low cost of sensors is poised to herald mass adoption of internet connected devices this year and beyond that enable personalized experiences based on our individual behavior and environments.

2. Age of Autonomy

With the advent of abundant cheap sensors and radios for every range, we’re entering an era of constant monitoring, feedback, and ability to make adjustments based on data coming in. That dynamic feedback will revolutionize not only our home and mobile technology, but also brick and mortar retail locations where changing demand and inventory levels can be constantly measured to improve operations and consumer experience.

3. Multidimensional Screen Expansion

2014 will see us expanding and enhancing the spectrum of screens.  This means not only a variety of screen sizes, but also factors like color, resolution, and curvature. “The wearable category will explode,” says DuBravac.  Smartwatches are projected to reach 1.5M shipped units in 2014 in U.S., but it remains a nascent market that’s “still looking for that killer application.”

In terms of form factor there’s a move toward flexible and bendable screens, but don’t expect big sales there quite yet. For now manufacturers will primarily use CES 2014 to show what’s physically and technologically possible. “It may be another 5 or 10 years until they’re commercially viable,” he concluded.

Ultra HD TV unit shipments should increase dramatically this year as well, but aren’t yet poised for a hug explosion.  That said, expect a few big announcements about content and services partnerships along the lines of the Netflix UHD streaming deal.

4. Curation & Context: Services Meet Systems

Right now algorithm like those employed by Netflix are based solely on your behavior on that platform– but DuBravac envisions a future where platforms can access information from your other connected devices to improve recommendations.  What if Netflix had access to your Basis watch and could determine how stressed you are? Or if could interface with a camera sensor to know how many people are in the room? What if Netflix was linked to your thermostat and could make movie recommendations based on the temperature outside or in your home?