The One Word that Defines this Year's CES

CES 2013

I'm back from a long and restless week spent in Las Vegas at the world's biggest tech convention — The Consumer Electronics Show, aka CES. Getting a chance to see millions of square feet (1.9 million square feet to be exact) of technology side-by-side, all-at-once, and in-your-face is a unique experience that allows you to spot the newest trends in home tech. Now that I'm away from the bright lights, with a moment to sit back and take it all in, I'm starting to get a general feel for the overall state of the industry. Read on for a one-word assessment of this year's CES.

Pin it button

"Material".
There weren't many ground-breaking technologies unveiled at this year's CES. Flipping through the several hundred pictures I took, I'm noticing that this year there was more focus on design and materials. The words "renewable" and "sustainable" echoed through the halls as you walked from booth to booth. Manufacturers were touting their abilities to make things more responsibly (using eco-friendly materials). It's my hope that this attention to environmental awareness is rooted in truth — and not misleading marketing ploys. Cases for your smartphone or tablet were showcased in cork and wood. Bags for your gear were constructed of recycled plastics. I saw devices that would make you aware of your environmental impact, and those that would help you consume less energy around your home. The standouts were those that did these things with clever, elegant design.

Pin it button

Using the word "material" to describe this year's CES is meant to serve as a double entendre. There were no game-changing electronics that would change the way we live our day-to-day lives (like a microwave). (I exclude the self-driving car because that is still a mere prototype. albeit an exciting one.) Just about everything showcased could be classified as a material possession — something we can no doubt live without, but something we desire because of its form or function.

2013-01-12_CES_2013_Show_Summary_Material_657.jpg

It's a fine line to walk when writing for Apartment Therapy. We want to make your life simple, organized, and responsibly free from excess, but at the same time we love design, images, and things that excite our human senses. It may seem contradictory, but it's our human nature to want, to possess and to own things. The products we showcase here (and the ones I will write up for future CES articles) are showcased to inform you of things that may make your life easier and to help you live a better designed life. It seems rather stark to take the stance that material possessions are evil, when a lot of the time they can help us do a lot of good.

2013-01-12_CES_2013_Show_Summary_Material_671.jpg

Your knack for decorating a room could inspire someone to appreciate the beauty of things. Products that keep you organized and efficient may give you more time to do the things you love. Your possession of a smartphone or tablet could help you see the face of family members from overseas. I personally know that if I didn't purchase a new camera for the purpose of taking better travel photos, or hack an IKEA cabinet for my new flatscreen TV, I would never have gotten on the path to write articles and take photos for you to enjoy here on Apartment Therapy.

We can't predict what these material things may do for us. The challenge for me is to showcase these things responsibly, and as readers we have to understand our own needs and consumption. From this year's CES I'm able to gather that the tech industry overall seems to be on this path as well.

2013-01-12_CES_2013_Show_Summary_Material_661.jpg

(Images: Chris Perez)

More posts in this series

CES 2013

3 Comments