Consumer Technology on Parade

As investors we are always on the lookout for the next big thing, and the coming week will likely spawn news stories regarding new technologies that have the potential to make our lives easier. The CES*, an annual trade show put on by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) where the latest in consumer technology is on display, officially kicks off in Las Vegas on January 5, 2017. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the show, and with over 3,800 exhibitors and 165,000 attendees expected, there will be no shortage of new and improved technologies to demo and discuss.

Past expos have seen the introduction of products such as the VCR (1970), home camcorder (1981), and high-definition television (HDTV) (1998), items that later became very popular and profitable. Virtual and augmented reality headsets were popular at last year’s show, though they have so far not taken off in the marketplace, perhaps because of the perceived lack of content for these devices. This year technology enhancements for televisions, driverless cars, smart homes, and the related internet of things are likely to be popular, along with relatively new technologies such as home robots, which some believe is the next step for voice-activated home assistants. More specialized products are also on display, such as a wearable device that allows diabetics to monitor blood sugar without a finger prick, and even a smart collar that can track your pet’s location.

Forward-looking investors may see these news stories and wonder how they can invest in products that may be impactful. Some of the companies presenting at CES are large, public companies that an investor could easily purchase in the stock market, whereas others are small, privately held startups. Importantly, many of the most exciting products are relatively new innovations, i.e., even if they’re produced by large companies, they may produce little or no revenue. So while CES coverage may lead to exciting articles about futuristic technologies, as always we would remind investors to do their homework before investing.

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