Consumer Electronics Association chief economist Shawn DuBravac highlights wearable tech, Ultra HD and 3D printing during his "trends to watch" talk.
More than 20,000 new products could be unveiled at this week's International CES, Consumer Electronics Association chief economist Shawn DuBravac predicted during his opening "‘trends to watch" talk.
And while smartphones and tablets are leading spending in the consumer electronics space, the exec offered a broader look at some developing areas.
He commented that consumer electronics is effectively entering the third industrial revolution, which will be based around mass customization. He cited as an example 3D printing, which will be a big story at CES. "It's a nascent market, [but] it's starting to grow and develop," DuBravac said, predicting that in 2014 worldwide shipments might be just shy of 100,000 units.
Meanwhile, wearable tech "will explore," he asserted, saying that he wouldn't be surprised to see 75 to 100 new products come out of this sector at CES.
He added that while the Smart Watch is still a nascent market, in 2014 it could reach 1.5 million units shipped. "We are still looking for the killer app for that type of device," he added.
Another big story is Ultra HD, or 4K, TV. While final figures were not in, DuBravac estimated that roughly 60,000 UHDTV units were sold in the U.S. during 2013 and predicted that number would rise to 500,000 units in 2014. "We are still very early in what this rollout will look like. … But it's an area of significant growth."
He acknowledged bottlenecks such as distribution that "still need to be worked through" and will be topics this week. In all, he estimated that there might be 150 UHD-related announcements during CES.
More broadly, DuBravac predicted we'll see multidimensional screen expansion, not just in size, but also in resolution and color and form factor. On bendable/flexible displays, which will be featured this week, he said, "It's technically possible, but it might be another five to 10 years before it becomes commercially successful."
Asked about 3DTV during the Q&A portion of his presentation, DuBravac gave a surprisingly optimistic response. "3DTV has actually done pretty well," he said. "The deployment and adoption is there; usage maybe isn't there."
"Some of that takes time," he added. "Last year, there was close to 100 percent growth in the U.S., but it has become a feature that is being adopted by default [as it is a standard on many TVs.]"