It's the start of a new year and for many that signals brand new tech devices being unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
CES 2017 will see many of the world's top tech companies unveil their latest devices, including wearables, computers, televisions and VR devices. This year's conference will likely show off more mature devices rather than ground-breaking new technologies. But that still doesn't help predict which IT trends will hold throughout the year and which will fade away.
What's happening with VR?
Virtual reality came out of the woodwork in 2016. Years of anticipation came to a head early in the year with the launch of the Occulus Rift, HTC Vive and followed later by the PlayStation VR headset (see right). These dedicated VR headsets arrived with significant upfront costs, leaving them only available to dedicated early adopters. Meanwhile cheaper VR options are trying to make VR more mainstream, like Samsung's Gear VR and the newly released Google Daydream .
Each of these VR headsets are promising and appear to offer their customers a unique experience. But it's difficult to point to a single device that has cracked the right balance of features, cost and mass market availability.
It's unlikely that we'll see the 'iPhone' of the VR market this year, but the tech industry and enthusiasts continue to have strong interest in the platform. Don't expect VR to be fading away soon.
The close of 2016 saw one of the wearable pioneers falter. Smartwatch maker Pebble closed its doors late in the year, selling its assets to rival Fitbit. The sheen of this start-up dominating market has worn off and led some to speculate device makers and investors will prioritise VR over wearables.
But there are some interesting developments in the world of wearables. It's expected there will be a focus on more feature-packed wireless headphones after the 3.5mm port-less iPhone 7 and AirPod launch.
One element holding back many wearables, and VR, is the reliance on another device. For many consumers, they're just too expensive after already purchasing an expensive device.
Device makers appear set on consolidating the various devices we use around the home. Think of a Apple TV or Chromecast merged with a router. Maybe even throw in a speaker too. All managed by an AI assistant.
In the US, Amazon's Echo speaker-hub powered by the Alexa assistant appears to have sparked this new trend. Consumers are wanting fewer isolated devices, and want the devices they do purchase to react more intelligently to natural language commands. In otherwords, they want to be able to make their devices perform by speaking to them as if they were human.
Unfortunately Amazon Echo and Google Home are yet to be released outside the US. Only time will tell when they will be arriving on Australian shores.
They're not all winners, folks
Not all new products unveiled at CES will trigger talk of the next big trend in tech. This is perhaps best evidenced by the already ridiculed 'smart hairbrush' named Hair Coach by Withings and L'Oreal. The brush links to your phone, telling you when your hair is damaged or tangling.
At its best, the brush will likely tell its user what they already know. At its worst, it's assuming a consumer willing to spend US$200 on a hair brush hasn't worked out how to already care for their hair.
Unfortunately it appears to be another case of a complicated piece of technology providing an answer to a question no one is asking.
It's difficult to predict the future in tech. If there is anything to take from these predictions, it looks as if tech-makers are trying to push more and more devices into our lives in 2017.