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In 2014, the Internet of Things Becomes the Internet of Everything

Lindsey Turrentine,

Every winter, we in the tech press play a little game: we predict which new form factors will take over the world in the coming year. Typically, we choose one technology to rule them all (wearables! mobile! 4K/Ultra HD!) and there's some merit to that. It's true that one or two tech categories will probably get more attention in any given year. 

But here at CNET, we're seeing another fascinating trend that's moving innovation away from form factor changes and toward a sensor-based future in which you, your home, your car and other traditionally low-tech parts of your life will gather the data to drive your digital life.

You could say that while smartphone and tablet designs have settled into a familiar, somewhat predictable slate shape, sensor-based hardware innovation is thriving in unexpected places. Some of these sensors are so small, you'll rarely see them. Startups and companies with no tech history are developing entirely new device types for our homes, cars and bodies that rely on human gestures, ambient temperature, or even the movement of other machines to generate the data to make our lives more comfortable, safer and healthier.

Smartwatches and smart glasses -- the Pebbles, the Fitbits and the Google Glasses of the world -- all certainly take advantage of this emerging sensor-based innovation explosion to measure your body's activity or use nontraditional signals, like eye winks, to navigate. No doubt that 2014 will see lots of wearables action and maybe even some wearables mass adoption.

But here's where sensors get really interesting for electronics: the networked home, where products from companies like Nest and Belkin increasingly collect information from sensors that can share data with each other and with you via apps. Startups like Twine and Quirky are making moves to easily integrate your big appliances with your smartphones.

Add sensors to your car for gesture-controlled navigation, to your home's lock for remote unlocking and the Internet of Things is starting to look more like the Internet of Everything.

All these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. CNET's acclaimed Brian Cooley and Tim Stevens will take on the topic of our sensor-based future at our CES Next Big Thing SuperSession, the always-packed-to-the-gills panel. Julie Larson-Green, EVP of Devices and Studios at Microsoft;  Mike Bell, VP and GM of New Devices at Intel; Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit Wearables; and Jim Buczkowski, technical fellow and director at Ford, will join us in North Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7.

The panel will investigate where traditional manufacturers stand and which new players are leading the hardware revolution. It'll be a lively debate that makes you rethink the next big thing. We hope you'll join us.