Four Trends to Track at CES 2020

Posted On January 3, 2020 By Lora Osborn

A new year has arrived, which means it’s time for CES 2020, the world’s largest annual consumer electronics show, which runs Jan. 7 through 10 in Las Vegas.

With nearly 200,000 expected attendees, 4,500-plus exhibitors, and more than 1,000 speakers, the show provides a stage for giant brands such as Amazon, Google, Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz), Sony, Samsung, and Huawei to showcase their latest innovations. The event offers, as Forbes recently reported, “A glimpse into how we will be spending our spare and leisure time over the next decade.”

At Protolabs, we always eagerly anticipate this show because we help drive product innovation in this industry by manufacturing prototype and end-use injection-molded plastic parts, sheet metal components, machined parts, and 3D-printed components for a variety of consumer electronics products for companies large and small, from large OEMs to tiny startups.

Accordingly, here’s our take on some of the more intriguing and innovative trends, products, and services to watch for at this year’s show: Drones, transportation, wearables, and smart-home technology.

CES 2020
An "air taxi" concept from Bell Flight was a hit at last year's CES. Photo: NBC News

Drones Soar at CES

Drones continue to fly high in the marketplace and have now become mainstay attractions at CES. They are usually the topic of several conference sessions, and will be again this year, and, at past shows, attendees flocked to drone rodeos that occurred at outside locations near the conference center.

This year, look for Bell Flight at the show. For decades, the Texas-based company was known as Bell Helicopters, and built a solid reputation for building commercial helicopters and other vertical-lift aircraft. Now, Bell is re-inventing itself as a technology company that is redefining flight. Last year, for example, the company showed off Bell Nexus, an air taxi that, as the company’s website proclaims, “Is designed to let you make the most of your commute…turn a 45-minute drive into a 10-minute flight.” Think Harry Potter and the frantic flying car scene, except with a way cooler aerial vehicle, and someone other than Ron Weasley as the pilot.

In addition, check out Micro-Ant, as in micro antenna. The Florida-based firm manufactures custom antenna products for a growing number of companies in the commercial, defense, and aerospace markets, including use in drones and satellites. The company’s expertise has helped it carve a singular niche in this high-tech space.

The exhibit hall was crowded at last year's show. Photo: Brand Entertainment Network

Transportation's Road Ahead

Related to drones, the larger transportation landscape and its future will also be featured at CES 2020 with two high-flying keynote speakers.

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, will deliver one of the corporate keynote presentations on Jan. 7. He’ll show how travel has become an essential part of our lives, and how technology and innovation will transform the future travel experience for customers.

Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, will present the show’s main keynote address on Jan. 8. She’ll discuss the current state of innovation and her department’s initiatives to support the safe integration of new technologies into our country’s transportation systems.

In addition to the Dream Lab, Owlet provides infant sleep data via products such as a baby cam and this smart sock. Photo: Owlet

Wearables Fit in at CES

CES 2020 also will continue to showcase the burgeoning wearables sector, demonstrating how innovations in sensor technology, smart fabrics, cloud computing, and more are advancing this segment.

Dream Lab by Owlet Baby Care, is a CES Innovation Awards 2020 honoree. Utah-based Owlet, which provides infant sleep data via products such as a smart sock and baby cam (which can be connected to your smartphone), teamed up with sleep experts to get babies sleeping through the night in as little as seven days in its new online program called Owlet Dream Lab.

Smart Swim by Vuzix Corporation, is another 2020 honoree. New York-based Vuzix has created the world’s first full-featured and most advanced augmented reality (AR) workout goggles for swimmers.

Also in this sector, check out:

  • Valencell, which develops biometric sensor technology for wearables and “hearables,” and provides patent-protected technology to consumer electronics manufacturers in various industries
  • Maxim Integrated, which designs, manufactures, and sells analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits, including wearables in the health care industry
  • Carl Zeiss Vision, which is breaking new ground in eyeglass lenses and ophthalmic instruments.
Find a way in with the Wayzn Smart Sliding Glass Door Opener/Automatic Pet Door. Photo: Wayzn

Smart Home Technology at CES

Finally, CES 2020 will feature a range of conference sessions and exhibitors on the topic of smart homes, covering everything from basic security monitoring to smart appliances, lighting, window coverings, irrigation, entertainment systems, and more.

Along these lines, just to boast a bit, look for one of our Cool Idea winners in this smart-home technology segment at CES.

Wayzn Smart Sliding Glass Door Opener/Automatic Pet Door is yet another CES Innovation Awards 2020 honoree. The product is the first of its kind, which allows hands-free use of a sliding door and can be controlled by a mobile app, allowing convenience and freedom for people and their pets.

California-based Wayzn recently received our Protolabs’ Cool Idea Award, a manufacturing grant that awards innovative ideas with in-kind manufacturing services, which Protolabs has been providing since 2011.


As noted, CES 2020 occurs Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Eye on Innovation is a monthly look at new technology, products, and trends.

Lora Osborn is the marketing manager for injection molding at Protolabs, where she focuses on helping customers understand the value of digital manufacturing for injection molding. She has worked in manufacturing, technology, and healthcare, focusing on how technology transforms industries, businesses, and the resulting services and products. Osborn holds a B.A. in strategic professional communications from the University of Minnesota. When she's not working, you will most likely find her somewhere outside, either fishing or trail running.