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PrintThe start of a new year means a lot of things. Beyond resolutions and self-improvement goals, it also means something a lot more concrete: numbers. As 2016 begins, corporations, industries and market research experts are releasing their projections for the upcoming year, and so far, things are looking good for the technology sector. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which launched its massive tech symposium, CES 2016, today, has also released its semi-annual industry report, U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts. According to the report, the consumer technology industry can expect to see a record-breaking $287 billion in retail revenues ($224 billion wholesale) in the upcoming year.

Hand holding a rising arrowUnsurprisingly, 3D printing is predicted to be one of the major drivers of growth in the industry. Listed as a “Tech Sector to Watch,” 3D printing revenue is expected to increase by 38%, with a total revenue of $152 million. 3D printer sales are projected to increase by 64%, with an estimated 178 million printers being sold in the United States. Additional sectors to watch are drones and virtual reality, which have only recently begun to come into the mainstream. Expect to become very familiar with virtual reality in the upcoming year; CTA predicts explosive growth for the industry with a projected 440% increase in revenue over 2015. According to CTA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, it’s all about the new tech.

“Aggressive competition, longer product replacement cycles and disruptive innovation replacing legacy products create financial challenges for segments of our industry,” he says. “However, we believe newer categories, continuing innovation and improving economic conditions provide additional cause for industry optimism.”

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Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist and senior director of research, agrees: “We are at a time when new tech categories can come out of seemingly nowhere and lead to disruption in the blink of an eye. Digitization is rapidly changing the landscape of our daily lives, and consumers are clearly choosing to infuse tech in all facets of their lives. As economic fundamentals improve – a strengthened labor market, solid consumer spending, lower energy prices – the tech industry’s bottom line will continue to surpass record unit and revenue levels in 2016.”

Little or no growth is expected for established technology such as smartphones, TVs, laptops and tablets. The real sector to watch, according to the report, is going to be the Internet of Things. The technology was very buzzed-about in 2015, and the CTA expects it to lead the consumer tech industry to its record-setting revenues in 2016. A few of the IoT highlights that the report points out include:

  • Wearables-1024x682Video and Audio: Smart TVs, streaming media players, wireless headphones and Bluetooth and Airplay-enabled speakers are all expected to see increases in sales.
  • Smart Homes: Apparently, most of your house will soon know more than you do. While that may be an unsettling concept for those of you concerned about the robot apocalypse, smart thermostats, smoke/CO2 detectors, locks, switches, outlets and security systems should be keeping us safer than ever before. CTA predicts that the smart home technology sector will see $1.2 billion in revenue, with a 21% increase in unit sales.
  • Wearables: We’ve written a lot about smart wearables, as they’re increasingly being manufactured using 3D printing. While the category is expanding to include all sorts of bizarre technology, CTA expects that the leaders will be the familiar smart watches and fitness trackers, generating revenue of $3.7 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. Overall, the industry is projected to sell 38.4 million units of wearable technology.

“2016 will be another great year for consumers. As more products become connected, we’ll be able to manage our lives in ways that weren’t possible even just a few years ago,” says Shapiro. “The exponential growth of the IoT and the lightning-fast speed of innovation are key reasons we’ll see such strong growth across so many tech categories. Highly sophisticated technology is becoming more affordable and accessible – improving our safety, productivity and entertainment.”

So if you’re a technology fan, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2016! I, personally, can’t wait to write about it as it unfolds over the upcoming year.  Discuss this article here.

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