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FORBES 01/10/2014

5 Disruptive Innovations At CES 2015

Once again, we scoured the edges of the 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show looking for what we call Big Bang Disruptors.

Consumer Electronics Show

Those are the innovations that enter the market both better and cheaper than existing products or services, creating the greatest opportunity for dramatic—even catastrophic—success, and setting incumbents up for the biggest possible disruption.

As usual, we found plenty of disruptors—some from incumbents, some from start-ups, but all with the potential to cause big changes, many of which their developers almost certainly don’t intend.

Before we get to our five most disruptive innovations, a few general observations.

If there was a theme song for this year’s CES, it would be “Everything is Connected” (sung to the tune of “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego Movie). From routers that can recharge every device in a fifteen foot radius (the WattUp from Energous) to yoga mats that talk to your phone (the SmartMat), ever cheaper and ever smaller sensors, antennas and other electronic components are quickly making every one of over a trillion items in commerce programmable, collecting actionable data for consumers about every activity in their lives.

We noted this trend last year, but like everything else at CES, nothing exceeds like excess. As the basic components are built in high volume (many made initially for smartphones), price, availability and standardization accelerate, generating a feeding frenzy for entrepreneurs combining them in every conceivable way. Areas that once had a only a few pioneering products now have their own rooms full of competing vendors, each trying to crack the code that will give them the big bang.

Quell Wearable Pain Relief

We were also impressed with Quell, an FDA-approved device that stimulates the brain to block pain receptors for patients with chronic conditions. The device is worn around the calf in a neoprene wrap and is approved for overnight use, and will sell for around $250 later this year.

It performs similar functions (though not as specific) to existing devices that today must be surgically implanted at dramatically higher cost and risk. Better and cheaper technology could translate to a big bang disruption for the company.

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