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CES 2016: Future Gadgets

The year started off with a bang as we cruised the aisles at the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas with 170,000 other technology adventurists. CES is the largest consumer electronics show in the world where the latest gadgets are launched ...

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The year started off with a bang as we cruised the aisles at the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas with 170,000 other technology adventurists.  CES is the largest consumer electronics show in the world where the latest gadgets are launched and provides an opportunity to preview the products and trends that could impact consumers in the near future.  2016 was another record setting year with over 3,800 vendors spread out over 2.47 Million square feet of show floor (that’s a lot of walking!).  After three days of press briefings and product announcements, we highlight our list of the top accounting related technologies and trends that could one day make their way into your firm.

Thin is In: Lenovo unveiled the Yoga 900s laptop/tablet hybrid which they compressed into a half inch thick form factor when either closed or flipped into tablet mode.   This device is hailed as the “world’s thinnest convertible laptop,” and while it may be slightly heavy at 2.2 pounds, this is because of the solid feel of the hinge which allows the keyboard to fold completely under the screen to function equally well as a tablet.  This product could be a “tweener” unit between tablet and laptop when you need a little of both, with the only negative we felt being that the keyboard is so thin, you need to have a light touch when typing.

Upgrade Your Headset: Talking on your smartphone, participating in video conferencing, and listening to webinars are all part of a CPA’s normal work day and most of us have different devices to accommodate each of these communication needs. Plantronics showed off their Voyager Focus UC Headset which allows you to replace your office computer and smartphone headsets with one unit that can easily switch between your PC and taking a call on your smartphone when in the office. The latest iteration of this headset combines stereo sound with active noise cancelling technology that erases all those ambient office noises and allows you a mobile range of almost 100 feet (so you can grab that second cup of coffee while listening).  It also has a helpful automatic mute feature if you have to take the headset off and an audible reminder if you try to talk when in mute mode.

Improving CPA Productivity: Study after study is pointing out how really bad sitting all day is, which unfortunately, most CPAs are guilty of.  2016 appears to be the year when Corporate Wellness takes precedence with wearable fitness providers such as Garmin upping their game to combine comprehensive wellness programs with their Vivofit, Vivosmart and Vivoactive devices to monitor and measure if your workforce is getting more active. Also, helping CPAs get out of their chairs are products like the Lifespan Walking Desk, Loktek Cycling Desk, and the Autonomous Automatic Standing Desk. We are seeing more and more standing desks in firms and switched to one earlier this year and can attest to the improved productivity.

Getting There Safely: A major section of CES covers automotive technology and while self-driving cars in our own garages are still a few years out, a couple of tools that your auditors will soon be able to take on the road are the ADAS One driving sensor and the Hudway heads up display.  Hudway allows you to turn your smartphone into a heads-up display to be placed on your dashboard so you can more effectively utilize its GPS, as well as a special feature that allows you to download route maps to assist when driving in very low visibility conditions.  The display will also show the vehicle’s current speed and distance to the next turn which is done by downloading their app so your smartphone screen can be mirrored without taking your eyes off the road.  ADAS One also takes advantage of the latest forward looking sensor technology being built into vehicles by adding after-market versions for your current car to warn you of obstacles when driving.

Tougher Screens Make Tougher Desks? Corning’s Gorilla Glass has made a name for itself for tough smartphone and tablet screens that withstand brutal drops and scratches while still being able to interact with applications by touch.  Their latest screens are not only large enough to become your car’s digital cockpit, but to even become your desktop.  Image your desk surface being a giant screen with applications running so you could collaborate with clients on their business needs, making the most of that space.

Being There When You Physically Can’t: Robotic Techs were one of the fastest growing consumer categories and mobile robots from BeamPro and Double Robotics allow you to see what is going on in the office by controlling a robot that has video conferencing built in so you can be at two places at one time. However, on the consumer side a product called Orbii was the one that gave us a smile. If you saw the latest Star Wars movie, you will realize this robotic ball with sensors and cameras is the precursor to the endearing BB-8 droid!

Gotta Have It: Each year there is a product that you just have to have and this year it is the Ehang Personal Flying Drone.  This product combines the best of Google’s autonomous cars with Amazon’s delivery drones.  Imagine a world where you get into a copter-drone, plug in the coordinates of where you want to go and the onboard computer safely delivers you there, while you clear your morning email.   Ehang is a “life-size” version of our favorite obstacle avoidance drone which we found during Intel’s keynote presentation. The Yuneec Typhoon H drone incorporates Intel’s 3D Real Sense technology which makes it virtually impossible for a drone to run into any obstacle.  This $2,000 HD-camera equipped drone will be available later this year and follow you around the office to record all those crazy auditing adventures.

Consumer electronics continue to evolve and push the envelope of what is possible and while many of these technologies are on the “bleeding edge,” those that are the most useful in your homes may one day make it into your offices.  Have a great busy season! 


Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC and works exclusively with accounting firms to optimize their internal production workflows within their tax, audit, client services and administrative areas. His Quantum of Paperless Guide ( outlines 32 digital best practices all accounting firm partners need to understand today.

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