CNET's Next Big Thing: The new hardware

CNET's Next Big Thing SuperSession is one of the most popular events at CES. In 2014, we're focusing on how hardware is evolving to know you better with more sensors, better design, and broader services.

While the smartphone and tablet markets seem to have devolved into a somewhat-predictable battle of bigger displays and faster processors, we're seeing some amazing innovation in a flotilla of other devices with more specific intents. These things use sensors and other smarts to provide solutions to problems we didn't know we had.

At last year's Next Big Thing SuperSession, we talked about how connecting all your many and myriad gadgets helps to make them all smarter than they would be on their own. This year we discuss how those individual devices are becoming more aware of their surroundings and better at fitting into your life.

Josh Miller/CNET

That you can control your Nest Learning Thermostat from your phone already makes it vastly more useful, but that it has the necessary sensors to know when you're home and when you're not makes it far more powerful. Likewise, innovative thinking applied to the simple motion-detecting accelerometer has opened the door to a raft of new fitness products, such as the Fitbit Force and Jawbone Up24 .

Indeed, 2014 is expected to be the year of the wearable, but the development of those devices goes well beyond sensors. Modern consumer electronics must look good and feel good. As our expectations for device quality skyrocket, the value of good industrial design climbs similarly.

As great, personal design meets an array of new and powerful sensors and services, what's in store for the future of hardware? That's the question Brian Cooley and I (Tim Stevens) will discuss at this year's International CES. We won't be alone, of course, and will be joined by a panel of industry notables:

Julie Larson-Green -- Executive VP of Devices and Studios at Microsoft
Jim Buczkowski -- Director of Electrical and Electronics Systems at Ford's Research and Innovation Center
Mike Bell -- VP and GM of the New Devices Group at Intel
Sonny Vu -- CEO of Misfit Wearables

Brian and I hope that you'll join us for the standing-room-only session at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7, in the North Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

You can tune in to the blog and video stream here:

CNET's Next Big Thing at CES 2014
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