Consumer electronics (CE) products will be characterized most notably this year by better user interfaces (UIs), although other trends ranging from embedded sensors to content personalization will also hold sway, predicted Shawn DuBravac, the CEA's chief economist, during CES pre-show press activites here in Las Vegas on Sunday.
DuBravac, in fact, went to far as to define 2012 as "The Year of the Interface." UIs on everything from TVs to OS will become less cluttered and more elegant, the industry analyst pronounced. More devices and apps will get voice- and/or gesture-driven UIs.
The analyst used the TV remote control with its myriad clunky buttons as an example of a device that's now starting to get a slicker UI.
Screen interfaces to Internet TVs have also been particularly "bad," DuBravac pointed out. HDTV makers have been in such a hurry to prove that their products are "connected" that they've slapped content widgets on to screens rather haphazardly, he suggested. Yet that's all starting to change, too.
While he didn't point to Windows 8 specifically as one of the products that will sport an improved UI, DuBravac suggested that Windows 8-ready devices and apps will be rampant all over the CES show floor this year.
Other trends to watch this week in Las Vegas will include the "prevalence of the personal" -- in terms of both content and custom devices -- along with camera add-ons and all kinds of other accessories, and Bluetooth-enabled health and fitness products.
3D technology will be out there in full force, too. although DuBravac indicated that, like digital TV and HDTV before it, 3D is a technology that could take several years to really hit the mainstream market.
Also for the moment, "search and organization" remains an industry "hurdle," DuBravac acknowledged. Vendors are still trying to figure out ways to help users organize their burgeoning reams of personal music files, digital photos, and other content assets for use with PCs and mobile devices.
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