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Watch: The final word-CES 360

When CES first began, some 48 years ago now, it was much easier to surprise people.

Back then, without the endless stream of blogs and social media, major stories that defined our technological future made their glorious debuts here. Like the VCR, for instance – first shown at CES way back in 1970. Who could have foreseen the impact that piece of technology would have on the world?

And 11 years later, the CD was shown here before anywhere else.

These days, you rarely see entirely new things at CES. And so the show’s purpose has changed somewhat – shifting into an event that is as much about spotting momentum rather than new products.

But perhaps somewhere in the vast halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre we’ve seen this year’s VCR – a technology that will have impact well beyond what we can predict.

Hoverboard girls

Attendees – some 170,000 of them – are now heading home. And there seems to be a general consensus that CES 2016 signalled a transition year, but not a revolutionary one. The big ideas – like virtual reality, reinventing the car, or home robotics – were promising but still half-baked, a bun in the metaphorical (smart) oven.

“We’re in an in-between phase, where categories like drones, virtual reality, and wearables are growing and advancing, but still have a long way to go,” wrote Rachel Metz from MIT Tech Review.

The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo described CES 2016 as an “awkward adolescence” for emerging technologies.

And that’s absolutely right. VR has yet to go mainstream. Drones are out there, but set to be locked in regulatory hassle for the next year at least. And wearables? Well, let’s just say too many companies are still thinking about function before fashion.

CES 2016 was like it is every year: Big, overwhelming, full of terrible ideas, wasted money and overhyped nonsense.

Gone are the days where you find the “next big thing” at CES. But if the technology business is alive and well, CES is still very much its pulse.

Until next time, Vegas…

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