Top three consumer tech trends from IFA Berlin 2016
Though no new outstanding product blew the competition out of the water at IFA Berlin 2016 which was held at the beginning of the month, there was an influx in new product categories, alongside tech that we’ve come to shun, such as tablets and mid-range phones.
With the latest innovations ranging from superfast 3D scanners to eyeglasses and Ultra-HD televisions (if you didn’t think HD was crisp enough) it’s no surprise the tech space can become a storm you can’t quite see through. Nevertheless, one must always come out on top; virtual reality, smartwatches and new laptop designs seemed to mark the consumer electronics show’s top three tech trends this year:
Wearable tech has been at the center of many conversations in recent months; how suitable they are for the workplace, their influence on sports performance, and more recently in the form of kids trackers to keep tabs on your young ones at all times – a clever safety gadget or an invisible leash?
Since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2014, the smartwatch has gained popularity. This year, IFA saw the smartwatch come full circle, indorsing a more neutral shape and character than the often favorable square or rectangular face shape. As we enter into the holiday season, and fashion and lifestyle brands such as Fossil and Michael Kors add smartwatches to their ranges, the smartwatch’s appeal to the female consumer grows.
Samsung and Asus were also big contenders in the smartwatch space. Asus unveiled the ZenWatch3 with a circular design, and Samsung honed in on look and style with their new Gear S3 Classic, which packs a number of nifty features into a classic looking watch. Read more on the ever growing wearable tech world here.
Virtual Reality Headsets
Other wearables that dominated IFA this year were VR headsets. With more and more manufacturers entering the VR arena such as Qualcomm, Alcatel, Acer and more, Oculus and HTC are being given a run for their money.
Qualcomm’s debut VR headset, called the Snapdragon VR820 holds a very special feature to make it stand out from the VR crowd. It’s two front-mounted cameras enable tracking and gesture recognition, without external sensors or hardware. Snapdragon VR820 was available to test at this year’s IFA. Users were impressed with the displays 4K resolution, making it sharper than the Oculus Rift. Another VR contender was the StarVR; a headset boasting a 210 degree horizontal field of view, approximately double most other VR headsets. Although headsets like the Snapdragon VR820 and the StarVR won’t replace the Vive and Rift, they will shake up entry-level VR, which is currently restricted to seated experiences – and of course they are more cost friendly too.
This year IFA fell on the same weekend as PAX, a series of gaming festivals held in Seattle and Boston amongst other places. Many gaming laptops were announced at PAX leaving a few stand out players to really take the stage at IFA.
Acer’s Predator X21 gaming laptop is the first of its kind featuring a curved monitor and a full sized mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches. With a screen size of a whopping 21 inches and weight of 17lbs it’s a far cry from the ultra slim, lightweight laptops that are dominating the PC industry. The Predator X21 has Tobii’s eye-tracking software, enabling eye-based control in games that support it. It’s not out yet but with the hardware it holds it’s going to be eye-wateringly expensive. In comparison to the hefty Predator X21 that won’t fit in your backpack, Acer launched their new series of ultra-thin laptops. The flagship Swift laptop is just 0.39 inches thick and weighs 2.43lbs. See a round- up of all Acer’s super thin laptops here.
If IFA has shown us anything this year, it’s that some tech trends die hard. VR headsets will probably dominate at IFA 2017 with every major smartphone company releasing one thanks to things like Google Daydream. Wearables will continue in the limelight as fitness trackers tailored to each individual’s needs, like the FitBit Blaze offering colour display, sleep monitoring and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. With an abundance of reviews and opinions following IFA, the autumn is set to see the rise of tech purchases.