Assistants / voices
The wizard is by far the most widespread development at CES last year and has improved this year. In an attempt to find out what's new at CES, some might say that the assistants were in 2018 and that 2019 was something different, but in fact the voice was ubiquitous and was a key part of almost all the demos.
As mentioned, Google spent a ton of money and it was not clear at all if Amazon had done it. That is the leader against the insurgency. From this point of view, it looks like a two-player race, with Siri a distant third.
The reason for this dynamic is clear: the integration of voice control is trivial once a product is connected to the internet and the company has some running time on AWS. That's where the problem lies. When something is trivial for products to do, they do it, whether it improves things a lot or not.
Everything and anything can have voice integration. Here is a bed. In addition, a googler out of the frame holds the stand.
Two things are clear:
All this dynamic must be turned upside down. This generation of voice commands has been bearish many times, not because of the spectacular success achieved by passing the spoken word to the AWS code lambda, but to know what to say given the infinite context and the flat command space .
The other aspect to consider is whether a device integrates a wizard, ie a microphone and a processor, or if it simply takes advantage of a remote speaker that routes commands to devices via connectivity. A surprisingly large number of devices have chosen to integrate silicon and microphones into devices and I just think that it does not make sense, much less sense if there is a screen . This may be acceptable if a washing machine has a WiFi chipset and can be connected to an application and therefore controlled by voice. But the last thing a house needs is to be filled with microphones waiting to be diverted.
That said, each device and each demo had a voice control. I could list everything at CES and that would be this section. However, what I went away had the same impression as last year, namely that you must have a printed checklist of commands and devices to operate your home. A fairly high percentage of what you say does not make sense and will probably not work. – "Alexa garage door open in front of the garage door of the house" or something I need at home.
Apple had a slightly different message regarding CES and all the services displayed.
The smart home has come a long way this year. It is quite possible to enter the home control market from a variety of providers offering basic prices and with little effort to control the following:
It is shocking to see how quickly the products and the economy of home security have changed. A dozen companies sell a kit with a GSM / battery backup concentrator, door sensors, glass sensors and flood sensors. Here is the trap though. After these sensors, the kits diverge quickly and lack either capacity or try to compensate for what is missing by "integrating" third parties.
One of the interesting developments that may occur with respect to security is that WiFi routers can be physically integrated with the hubs required for perimeter security. FirstAlert (the smoke detectors) has acquired a mesh WiFi router company and integrates it into its smoke detectors, called OneLink. What is interesting is that in many places, alarms require line voltage. It is therefore easy to replace an alarm with an alarm / access point and obtain WiFi coverage. OneLink has a bell that then transmits the sound to the smoke detector / access points (the smoke detectors are also Alexa speakers). See how that ends.
Energizer (batteries) suite of sensors ready to be used in stores for perimeter security. No base station or service issues an alert on a phone.
At the lowest level of home security, Energizer essentially has a set of components filled with point-of-sale bubbles for doors and windows that do not require a hub. They simply alert you to an application. These terminals use the Wi-Fi protocol and not a low-power protocol, which is great for an energizer because you need to replace the batteries every two or three months.
All this requires to be more integrated beyond the components of the first part. Nest was once the backup integration point because none of the alarm companies supported thermostats or cameras. Now, some add cameras, but the choice of cameras is limited. Some have switches / lamp sockets / lamp switches, but these are never as beautiful as what you can get from Lutron / Leviton / Philips. And beyond that, the control of these goes from sophisticated "themes" and calendars to simple all or nothing functions.
The charm of a simple integration gives the impression that there is a complete product, but it is really not the case. The root of this is the simple API across all home radio standards. There are hopes, two of them.
First of all, Apple saw this problem and tried to solve it with HomeKit. But the integration of HomeKit has forced device makers to bet on Apple, including changing their own silicon. Most have all hesitated. Recently, Apple has reduced its HomeKit integration requirements and so we have seen more devices, but at the same time, reduced capabilities.
At this point, if you are trying to automate a typical home and do it robustly, there will likely be 6 applications and different systems that correspond to those described above. More complex systems such as the integration of water monitoring or grid monitoring will require a dedicated device and application. These are true domestic infrastructures and it is not clear that the companies that offer them have a lifetime ranging from 10 to 20 years to which the associated appliances are connected (HVAC, gas line, water heater, etc.). ).
Lighting is the perfect example of how inheritance strikes reality and it's tricky to place intelligence in the right place. At present, intelligent lighting solutions are all LED bulbs for traditional luminaires. These in turn require a single hub. Then, this whole system is controlled by a single application with unique features. Philips is the leader here, but again, it is a very fragmented space.
One of the most impressive advances in home control has occurred at the main entrance of homes.
There were three major innovations:
The first connected lock was launched at CES about 5 years ago and participants quickly declared "disruption" compared to traditional lock manufacturers such as Kwikset and Schlage. What's amazing is the way these two companies have delivered over the last two years a wide range of connected locks, from Bluetooth proximity to fully connected to the Internet. The range is impressive and speaks of the world of locks they understand. Standing in front of the Kwikset stand, after a visit, described a door situation – a lock, a deadbolt, but the door is very thick, for example – and the staff would guide them to a place with locks to choose from. Making a connected lock was great at first, but integrating into the world of doors was a lot more difficult than it seemed.
Kwiket locks not only avoided disruption but also thrived. They have many prices and varieties of locks connected. Support for Amazon Key has also been announced.
The Ring video doorbell was an unprecedented invention. The company has grown to include a brightly designed perimeter lighting and finally a complete perimeter security system for the home. Again, this is where the difficulty of space comes in. The doorbell is not surpassed, though, to be honest, there are a dozen companies with bells that seem to be adequate copies of Ring. But the alarm system is only half way: the window sensors are huge and a whole range of detectors is missing. There are much better suites of alarm sensors. But of course, your rings and rings do not integrate with those of scenarios such as the creation of a program "Absent", do not include the complete suite of automation.
Ring has announced but does not send a new Ring camera that inserts into the peephole of an entry door (or a teenager's door, I suppose). It runs on battery power and lasts about two months between charges. This is basically the original ring with the modified form factor for the peephole fixing. This is perfect for an apartment renter. Very cool.
Ring was bought by Amazon ($ 1 billion!) And the integrations go to Alexa. One of the most important integrations announced is Amazon Key, which goes to the third observation and concerns package delivery. Parcel delivery is one of the biggest problems of the day. We pay for the delivery PRIME, but spend two days to bounce, to sign delivery slips, to leave notes, to disturb the neighbors. The ringing of Ring allows us at least to film people who steal packages, but does nothing to prevent the theft.
To many laughs, Amazon announced a program (pre-Ring Deal) that used its sophisticated EDI backend for shipping in order to connect to a home-connected lock. The deliveryman would receive a one-time code when scanning a package, then open your door to leave it. There are many things to dislike in this scenario (privacy, pets, children and if you are UPS, all the time takes).
Several years ago, a Utah-based company developed a complete end-to-end system that did the same thing, but for all distribution agents, but using a connected garage door opener. I had written about it at the time and I thought it was super cool – if you had a garage.
This year, CES and Amazon announced that Chamberlain will be supported by Amazon Key. Chamberlain is also on HomeKit. It turns out that I have this whole system (it has two hubs and took about 4 hours to run) but it is not live yet.
The Amazon Key app can use your car as a delivery point, or open your door and now open your garage.
If you do not have a garage or connected door (but no apartment, no one has a solution for unattended multi-unit dwellings), several new box approaches essentially establish the same connection with the delivery agents and provide the keys. There are analog boxes that allow a single opening until reset by the owner (they are sometimes used in apartments). The challenge with boxes is simply finding a place to implement them and the delivery person can find and use. They are not very attractive and they must then be big enough.
ETETHR is a simple solution. It is essentially a needle on a spiral cord that the deliveryman plugs into the box. Unless you hit a code when the needle is removed, an acute siren will sound. The same company also has a box.
eTETHR is a packet security system. (photo by company)
Television occupies a very special place at CES and represents the emotional center of the show as well as the physical center: the Samsung widescreen TV is literally the first thing you enter if you enter the central lobby at the central entrance . TVs are a big business, but do not compare mobile phones and, with average free fall sales prices, they are not as high as PCs, although they have about the same operating (approximately 230 million in 2018) although a slight increase in the number of televisions.
Just when you thought we were all on TV, we're all 8K. 8K was everywhere. The good news is that almost none of us will need a set of 8K at any one time, because for 8K to be useful, the whole has to be huge. Of course, they are good. Samsung, Sony, LG, etc., had 100 "OLED displays. They were amazing to watch and imagine a TV that fills a house.
Samsung and LG have really led the innovation with TVs beyond 8K. The two interesting televisions have been widely reported:
Rolling / Folding TV from LG and Samsung The Wall (Samsung photo)
Beyond slippery television, curved TVs have taken the path of 3D and have been relegated to gaming monitors. However, for commercial uses, flexible OLED technology is almost certainly one thing: architects and designers would like exploit too many potential uses, as well as the automobile.
Curved screen at a new manufacturer that seems to have appeared (Royole). Benedict Evans Photo 🙂
LG caught up with Sony and showed him a short form factor laser TV that can project an image from 120 "to 18".
The display and quality of images continue to improve, even on 4K screens. Of course, screens become bigger, brighter, deeper blacks and faster refreshment. While weighing less and costing less. The names and model numbers / product lines remain as complex as ever, but online shopping makes it easier than ever to decipher all of this (even BestBuy is telling you now, model year!).
This year, we must not shout "we can not wait" for any new television development and, above all, there is no gadget on which we could argue. 8K is not a gadget. This will happen. It will be there. It will not make much difference. There will be no native content for a long time, but it does not matter. We usually make sure that the pixels are sharper, not to show more on our phones. Thus, a signal HD or even 4K on 8K is perfect.
The big galactic ad, the announcement that shook the show, was coming from Apple. Apple has announced that Samsung TVs would be able to stream iTunes content. I hate to be depressed, but I do not think that's a big problem for Samsung or Apple. It's part of the world of everything that connects to everything, creating a complex experience. I completely understand the point of view of "Apple opening a walled garden" but that's not really what's going on here. Many products previously supported AirPlay and this is simply an extension of this type of arrangement. In many ways, Samsung has strengthened and replaced Sony as an Apple salon partner. I do not think this represents a significant change for either player.
OMG OMG iTunes … not as bad as many said, IMHO.
As far as sound is concerned, there have been some notable developments:
The biggest question remains "what is a TV"? I know it sounds stupid to ask, but as the market moves away from COAX-based broadband programming to broadcast broadband content (ironically that same coax cable, at least in America of the North), the question is what will become the "receiver". of TV".
At first, this seems like an easy answer. The TVs have chipsets and application templates and simply add the runtimes provided by all streaming services. This is what the future television executives hope for. The problem is that the TV operating systems are not very good and application performance and update rate are lacking. TVs also have poor security and privacy models. In order to differentiate and because there is no standard, TVs also build their own launchers and clutter applications with a lot of things you do not want.
We then turn to add-ons such as Roku or AppleTV to provide performances. These do a much better job in providing applications and launching. But with streaming, this is only part of the experience. With television, the idea was to use a program guide to identify what to watch (linearly or with a digital recorder). The Internet is the equivalent of a program guide: we learn what to watch through social networks. The problem is that applications or TV boxes are particularly difficult to get from the Internet to a show. Even if you know the streaming service, TVs are really hard to find because you're using a remote to type a program. Here is a case of restricted use of the voice that can work but that is also tricky when it comes to old shows likely to feature on many services.
TVs are just bad places to run and control applications. About 10 years ago, television was going through a phase in which Facebook, Twitter, MSN Messenger, etc. customers were integrated into TVs. They were awful, static and hard to use. I only fear that the native applications for streaming services are also moving in this direction. And these applications are already much richer.
Beyond that, streaming services are all heavily invested in their own discovery models. Netflix has a legendary recommendation engine. Hulu is reshaping their model right now. YouTube has both a TV model and a model for the rest of YouTube, but it's really about clicking links and watching very short high-speed videos, which is extremely difficult on television. You understand the point – if you disagree, even strongly, I feel like you're threading the needle. By that I mean that everything works perfectly if you spend all your time at Netflix and watch the programs that are recommended to you. Making the Netflix jump in search of Handmaids Tale is a big step forward (and the Hulu app has a relatively uneven quality from one platform to another). Because of the considerable investments in in-service discovery, it is likely that the creation of a guide or service covering all other services will be a fragile business. Tivo and Roku are certainly trying to solve this problem.
That still leaves us with the question, where should be the intelligence? What times of execution should be on TV? The experience of The next generation Is television better if you bypass all the software of a TV and just use a Roku / ATV? Or would it be better to use an iPad and stream apps on a TV? In any case, this damn TV operating system is still present and needs to be updated, perhaps even in case of privacy error.
I left thinking that the future experience of watching TV still required a lot of work. If you do not really consider flawless usability, the competition for the screen will remain the phone or tablet. I would not be surprised to see people watching live video on a phone while the big TV is not in use and is right in front of you. It's a usability problem that TV manufacturers have to solve, and one of the content makers should be aligned with the repair.
Artificial intelligence was everywhere. But seriously, I can not even write this section with an impassive face. The use of "artificial intelligence" as a buzzword makes no sense. I'm trying to remember something as technically deceptive as using AI, and I really can not say anything about it.
"Now with AI" was covered with plaster on all televisions, washing machines, cameras, gadgets, etc. Of course, domestic robot vacuum cleaners and other labor-saving devices have used AI. It would have been naughty to ask someone in a booth "What do you mean by AI?" So I did not do it.
Televisions were the worst offenders. Samsung had a wall dedicated to the way they used artificial intelligence on their TV: upscaling the AI, streaming AI, AI content and connectivity, and its of l & # 39; AI. All used a Quantum 8K processor. Here you can see it here:
Samsung AI TVCompare an AI TV image with a non-AI image ("algorithmic"?)
I am sure that some image processing models are used. But just as sure, we could do without all the marketing of AI. I spent 10 minutes on this demo trying to see the difference in the pictures. The leader of the demo recites even the highlighted circles to show you where to look.
From time to time, there was a product actually developed by AI. Since a Harvard incubator called Brain Robotics, they are developing the most affordable AI prosthetic hand. The technique is familiar and can actually be developed using learning models. A person without a hand yet able to transmit nerve impulses can cause the EMG receptors of the hand to act on these impulses. This is one of at least two companies that takes this approach for a brain-machine interface.
The ability to provide all kinds of sensors continues to become cheaper and easier. The main use case of this year has been a camera as a sensor recognizing specific people. We have been talking about it for a while, but we are now at the commodity stage. Dozens of Chinese camera companies using conventional cameras and OSS image recognition libraries are available.
There were a lot of depth cameras on the display. The use cases were somewhat weak and more like packages for sale to developers in the same way as Kinect. In video conferencing, depth cameras are used to better identify loudspeakers in a room, as well as sophisticated presence sensors.
At the other end of the spectrum, I just loved seeing this presence sensor. It is simply a low-tech analogue motion sensor, as seen in office lighting. This is used to indicate if a public toilet (cloakroom, examination room, nursing room) is occupied. Why is it not used everywhere? I loved the cabin because the guy was shouting "no technology here," "no camera," "just a sensor of presence."
The sensors for health seemed relatively unchanged this year. All big players with wearable devices or other monitors had pretty much the same product line.
J'ai aimé ce rasoir Philips doté de capteurs et d'une application qui aide les personnes à la peau sensible à mieux se raser. Le rasage est une de ces choses, comme cela m’a été expliqué, qu’il ya une énorme compréhension de la façon de le faire mieux, mais que presque personne n’exploite cette connaissance.
P & G, la grande entreprise américaine de biens de consommation qui fabrique presque tout, a tenu un stand pour la première fois. C'était une vision très haute et j'essayais de nous connecter au futur client. La cabine avait des poignées de brosses à dents personnalisées imprimées en 3D, destinées à vous aider à commander et à personnaliser le brossage. Ils avaient également un kiosque de leur magasin du futur où ils pouvaient trouver les meilleurs produits de beauté.
Caméras sans miroir
Comme je l'ai mentionné, l'une des premières choses que j'ai remarquées lorsque j'ai marché est que Canon et Nikon ont déplacé leurs cabines à l'avant. Cet investissement (il est coûteux) est probablement lié à cela étant l’annonce et l’année de livraison de leurs entrées dans les appareils photo sans miroir, une zone dominée par Sony (et Fuji).
Nikon a annoncé et livré ses appareils photo de la série Z il y a quelques mois (j'en ai utilisé un en vacances ce jour-là). Canon suivit rapidement avec l'EOS R. Chacune avait également un petit nombre de nouvelles lentilles conçues autour de ces nouvelles montures (en l'absence de miroir, ces lentilles peuvent être montées beaucoup plus près du film et comportent des éléments arrière beaucoup plus grands qui offrent aux nouveaux concepteurs optiques Opportunités). Aucune des caméras n'a époustouflé les gens et des forums tels que petapixel sont remplis de débats presque quotidiens sur la façon de réparer ces deux caméras.
Tout cela est une grande histoire de perturbations imminentes, alors tout le monde réfléchit. Sony, avec son design épuré, battra-t-il le leader établi Canon? Nikon pourra-t-il une fois de plus prendre les devants avec le passage de la plate-forme au miroir?
Il s'avère que tout le monde a lu le livre et que Canon et Nikon sont maintenant à tapis sur le miroir. Mais le rythme est lent. Plus lent que la plupart voudraient. En même temps, pendant le spectacle, on pouvait voir la douleur au moins chez Canon qui a commencé à reculer et à s'engager à nouveau dans la livraison de nouveaux reflex numériques. Nikon, d’autre part, est resté silencieux et n’a annoncé que de nouveaux objectifs pour les reflex numériques.
En ce qui concerne les objectifs, l’intéressant était le choix des premiers objectifs sans miroir. Nikon avait un boîtier très coûteux et un objectif peu assorti (le 24–70 f4 plutôt que le 2,8 professionnel). Nikon a promis un exotique de 58 mm F.95, mais cela coûtera une fortune et même pas de mise au point automatique. D'autre part, Canon a livré un objectif spectaculaire de 24 à 70 f2, un objectif même impossible sur la monture EF (ou sur la monture Nikon F), qui est entièrement utilisable.
L’objectif Canon 28070 f2 est grand mais se gère très bien.
Nikon et Canon ont également des adaptateurs qui permettent à tous les objectifs F ou EF existants de fonctionner sur les nouveaux boîtiers, sans aucune dégradation de l'image (il s'agit simplement d'espaceurs qui repoussent l'objectif). Mais ici, Canon a fait un meilleur travail que Nikon en proposant plusieurs choix d’adaptateurs.
Nikon avait un investissement incroyable dans leur stand. Ils organisaient des séminaires photo de 30 minutes toute la journée avec des photographes de renommée mondiale offrant des conseils de prise de vue. Super cool. Canon a finalement réussi à créer une configuration multi-caméras que Nikon montrait depuis des années (même si la Matrix utilisait en fait des caméras Canon!)
Nikon a démontré qu'il s'agissait d'un tout-en-un, révisé de manière agressive la feuille de route de l'objectif en annonçant un zoom super grand-angle et en tirant vers l'avant le 24–70 / 2,8.
Canon a beaucoup investi dans un SDK professionnel pour les appareils photo EOS cette année et a montré toutes sortes de façons d'utiliser un PC pour contrôler les appareils photo.
SDK de Canon. Il s’agit d’une prise de vue automatisée du produit. À l’aide du kit de développement logiciel (SDK), cette caméra prend un grand nombre de photos et crée un modèle 360.
Les appareils photo reflex numériques ou sans miroir représentent une infime fraction des photos prises par les photographes, mais les images capturées avec eux en viendront à représenter l’histoire elle-même et sont donc importantes. Pour la plupart, c'est un passe-temps exotique. Pour Canon et Nikon, il s'agit d'un aspect extrêmement important de leurs activités.
Sony investit dans le miroir sans miroir depuis plus longtemps que Nikon ou Canon.
La prochaine bataille sera sans miroir et vidéo. Nikon est en avance ici. Canon a utilisé CES pour annoncer qu'une capture de 8K allait bientôt arriver. Sony n’a pas fait ses preuves dans la vidéo.
C'est un espace passionnant. Probablement l’un des plus excitants en termes d’innovation, d’héritage par rapport aux nouveaux acteurs et d’importance pour un client spécifique.
Les caméras pour téléphones mobiles représentent le grand champ de bataille pour la plupart d'entre nous et la grande majorité des photos prises. Je suis un grand fan de la photographie calculée. Le mode portrait de l’iPhone est incroyable. Google Night Sight est une merveille technologique. Il n’ya pas de nouvelles là-bas. J'ai passé du temps à utiliser le nouvel appareil photo Huawei sur leur téléphone, qui est en quelque sorte interdit aux États-Unis. Il a beaucoup de fonctionnalités calculées mais est également compliqué à utiliser. Une partie de la lenteur d’Apple réside également dans le fait qu’elles tentent de réunir un grand nombre de fonctionnalités en une chose délibérée et de ne pas submerger l’expérience. Il sera intéressant de voir si cela semble lent ou positif. Et certainement, les avancées de Night Sight constitueront un défi, car les photographies en basse lumière constituent depuis toujours le plus gros problème de la photographie grand public depuis l’avènement du support.
Polaroid est de retour avec de nouveaux appareils photo instantanés utilisant le même film que les appareils classiques. Ils sont amusants. Aujourd'hui, ces photos semblent plutôt basses résolutions, ce qui est intéressant. Un appareil photo est maintenant rechargeable et se connecte à votre téléphone pour effectuer un traitement supplémentaire. Il existe une application pour vous aider à numériser une photo après son développement.
La caméra Polaroid nouvelle génération se recharge maintenant via USB.
Nous en sommes à la cinquième année consécutive au cours desquelles l’industrie automobile s’efforce de comparaître devant la CES pour lui faire savoir qu’elles sont des entreprises de technologie. Après autant de temps, je suis convaincu que cela n’aide en rien leur cause et les informations fournies, les offres conclues ou l’apprentissage sont toutes minimes. Il n’ya tout simplement pas une masse critique de l’industrie ici pour en tirer bénéfice ou pour les participants.
Bien sûr, je suis un grand fan de transport et de l'évolution. C’est formidable de voir certaines de ces entreprises, mais il n’ya rien à apprendre. Les principaux kiosques des constructeurs automobiles ne sont littéralement que des diapositives PowerPoint d'anciennes annonces imprimées sur des panneaux et des voitures existantes. Bien qu'il existe de nombreux fabricants de composants (qui ont remplacé tous les cabines de personnalisation / audio automatiques), ils ne représentent pas une masse critique. Par exemple, il y avait une poignée de sociétés LIDAR, mais je doute vraiment que ce soit un bon endroit pour en savoir plus sur la technologie LIDAR la plus avancée et ce n’est certainement pas ainsi que les constructeurs automobiles apprendront.
Designers were busy figuring out how to take up all the road space that was made available because of autonomous cars.
Perhaps the most content free aspects of the whole of CES are the “vision” presentations on the future of mobility and autonomy. There must have been a dozen companies that had a shell of a “future autonomous shuttle” on display. As far as I can tell, in the future when cars don’t need driver-side controls we will make cars really big and take up more space than a giant van but only have 4 seats. Either that or a industrial design firm like IDEO designed the same car for every vendor.
Lots of scooters.
Closer to consumer electronics were scooters. There were zillions of these. The scooters all seem much safer than the hoverboards of past shows. Similarly, there were a lot of e-bikes. I loved this unconventional one because it fit in a really small space but without contorting the frame — it almost looked retro.
Bike is only 4" wide, has a 15 mile range.
There were at least two carry on luggage bags that were also scooters. And one suitcase while not rideable was a scooter. At least in the US, large batteries must be removed from carry-on luggage. Also there is like no room left for luggage. I much prefer the luggage with the razor that folds down, if only they made that in adult size!
It is a scooter. It is luggage. It is both!This autonomous luggage follows you around.
Maybe at the big Auto Show in Detroit there are people “on the edge” of reality with car designs. This was an interesting booth that claims to have an EV platform where you just replace the shell to get different styles of cars. While it seems practical and plays on the extreme lifecycle of an EV chassis (million miles), the problem is handling, center of gravity, and so on. Considering how much car design effort goes into physics, this seems like something that would not cut it at a real auto show.
This (vision, prototype?) EV seems to say that one base can serve many uses. It would be great but there are a lot of physics an mechanical engineering in car design that say this would be “challenging”.
I’m just not sure where the auto section is heading. I de-prioritized it this year and next year I would imagine skipping it altogether and spending more time enjoying Eureka Park! (below).
By far my favorite thing to do at CES is notice the ever decreasing amount of wire we have to deal with. There was a time when going to CES literally meant looking at wires, connectors, and adapters. The whole of the Hilton (now Westgate) used to be filled with booths that did nothing but adapters and strain relief packaging. Now there are no wires. Actually there are two: USB charge cables and HDMI video cables.
First, the biggest wireless topic at the show was 5G. Ha, I tricked you by including this in wireless but that is how I think about it. 5G is simply the internet for when I am not connected to WiFi. But what is 5G? I really can’t tell you. What I can say is that it was everywhere. Everyone was talking about it. There were even booths showing 5G connections being made live in some city around the world.
It is easy to be cynical or annoyed or something about 5G. The reality is that it is an amazing thing when a bunch of companies in concert choose to deploy billions and billions of dollars of capital to make our wireless connections better. The benefits of 5G remain to be understood. At least in the US, I will be most curious to see how these new frequencies get deployed when so many new “micro towers” will be needed to make the most of this. Will there be much more private connectivity? Today having a repeater or private cell is pretty rare. But maybe the secret plan for 5G is homes start having repeaters? I have no idea, except that when physics meets zoning laws, both of them prove pretty rigid and we are caught in the middle.
There was also a raging debate in every 5G booth over what 5G really means. This is no different than every spectrum/bandwidth transition. In fact this whole 5G thing feels like 4G which felt like 3G which felt like 2G. Everyone involved is pushing the envelope of “truth” and what they are promising. The only thing for certain, and this matters a great deal, is that public companies are spending billions of dollars and communities will see a lot of antennas. They believe by doing both of those things we will all see improved services to go with an improved business for carriers.
This is a 5G access point that covers about 300m in diameter. The one below covers 30m. Makes you think about the physics.
The connectivity most of us rely on most of the time is WiFi (and boy don’t I know this after some time in rural Asia where hunting down WiFi is the first thing you do when sitting down at place to eat). The best thing about WiFi now is the broad proliferation of convenient and easy to deploy mesh networking. There wasn’t much new in the products other than some new entrants with very similar capabilities. The software driving these matters a great deal. It is a great area for tech test labs to do good work and help us to navigate what appear to be commodity products when you just look at packaging.
Wireless headphones are ubiquitous. There are a whole range of offerings. All charge with USB-C. Many have noise cancelling. Some have microphones. So many choices. I liked the new Sony’s because the noise cancelling is incredible — I could not hear anything going on in CES. And I’m partial to the new Surface headphones, but maybe that’s because my dear friend Panos gave me a pair when we got together to say hello 😊
USB-C has won. That’s literally the only connector left for mobile devices, except for your iPhone charger. The only problem is that it is one form factor that means a crazy amount of things as we have come to know. I don’t know how this will shake out. Even at the most basic level, buying a charger and a cable is complicated. Here’s Belkin selling 3 different rated chargers. Also not every cable can carry every voltage. I guess we should be thankful there is one connector?
Belkin USB-C chargers but each one is a different watt rating. How are people supposed to know?
HDMI 2.1 enabled 8K video and 48Gbps ultra speed which is cool. But you know what is really cool? These new cables are also available as optical cables that are a) super thin, b) flexible like can bend and even coil, and c) extend the range easily 30, 40, or even 50M with no fancy repeaters. While mostly we all need just one HDMI cable to go from our ATV to the TV, this is still pretty cool.
Clear and super flexible fiber optical HDMI 2.1 cables — cover 50M with no amplifier.
PCs, Gaming, Work
COMDEX was originally the PC show but it collapsed in the early 2000’s and PCs moved to CES as the main trade-show. For about 5 years PCs were the main attraction and dominated the themes and announcements at CES. Then everything shifted to mobile phones, squeezing out PCs.
Today the PC footprint is fairly minimal. Dell and Lenovo have displays setup in restaurants that you walk by on the way to the Sands exhibits. Samsung and LG devote a table to PCs (and Chromebooks). HP, Microsoft, and others have quieter space to host private meetings with the press and partners.
The big change is that PCs are no longer an enabler for other technologies. You don’t see PCs connected to any gadgets — phones are used in demos now and products that need a computer use phones.
That said, PCs this year came across as much more focused and healthy because of the rise in gaming. By concentrating the PC activity around the gaming booths (where AR/VR is as well) you get the feeling of an ecosystem.
AMD CEO, Dr. Lisa Su presented her first CES keynote and it was really fantastic. Intel previously did keynotes and they seemed to always struggle. AMD had a clear message that resonated with an audience clearly made up of gamers and PC enthusiasts — “high performance computing”. The keynote announced the new AMD Radeon VII graphics card, which is a beast of a card built on their 7nm platform with 3840:240:64 (cores, texture units, rops). Lots of gamer performance numbers like improvements of 30% over existing AMD cards. AMD also committed to do a better job releasing drivers for mobo/gfx through their own channel. For Windows users this is interesting — you really want these drivers being pushed through Windows Update. Sigh.
Where AMD is really “taking share” (no idea if this is happening or not) from Intel is that AMD is currently in almost all the major OEMS: Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Huawei, Samsung, Lenovo, Apple, and across Chromebooks. They are aggressive and winning the OEMs and tech enthusiasts. Fun to see for sure!
Sidenote: The AMD acquisition of ATI in 2006 is looking brilliant. They acquired ATI for like $5B and had to borrow money (the street did not like the deal). Intel could have bought NVIDIA (if it was buyable) for only a bit more but did not. Crazy.
New AMD Radeaon VII announced by AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su to a packed house of enthusiastic gamers.
CES is not usually where new PCs are launched. The Samsung Flash was announced. It is a nice 13” ultra-thin running Intel N so it will not be speedy at all, but hopefully inexpensive. It is Samsung’s first fabric covered PC.
There were quite a few monitors and as with everything PC the target was clearly gamers. The gamer monitors are getting a bit extreme — now over 40”, deeply curved and immersive. These are not going to fit in any cubicle any time soon. This is the last remaining consumer scenario for curved glass.
Similarly, keyboards are entirely focused on gamers. In fact, keyboards can only be found in the gaming section of the show. All the keyboards have programming colored LEDs. The kitsch trend is round retro keys though those don’t have lights so I don’t think there will be demand.
ASUS announced two crazy high performance gaming products under their Republic of Gamers (ROG) branding: a crazy motherboard and a gamer 17” laptop built like a 10lb Surface.
AR/VR had a whole section. There is progress in the hardware this year. The headsets are getting smaller and lighter. Field of vision is improving. Screens are improving. Devices are running a bit cooler. The content and scenarios are still lacking. There are a number of VR cameras aimed at capturing 360 degrees. I think we are in a lull in this space. One of the major makers will need to add some juice to this category or perhaps we are all early and there will be a step function improvement down the road?
Every once in a while a product just jumps out that seems out of place. I ran across the adok aura which is a form factor that looks like an original Amazon speaker (tall skinny). It houses a PC and a table-top projector (projects on to the table) that is touch-enabled. It is for meetings and collaboration. It has video/audio conferencing and some built in apps for defining collaboration space. Surprisingly it is a Windows 10 PC and not Android which I would have thought.
adok aura PC that projects a touch screen. Full Windows 10 PC
As mentioned up top, the Eureka! space has become almost an entirely different show. The booths are tiny, but the energy is immense. This is sort of a tech show but definitely much more like “consumer goods” than consumer “electronics”.
What I love about this area is the founder energy. There’s a hustle. The founders look up at you. They start their demos. They ask you to listen. They shout at you “have you ever had a problem with….well we solved it”. It is exhausting to walk through the area but fun.
The reality is the products are much more like what you’d see on QVC or Sharktank. They are technical but not technology. They solve life’s little problems. Basically these are products for your Baby, Pet, Plant, Kids, Backs, Feet, Skin, Head, Nose, Knees, Eyes, Sleep, Hair (or not), and more…
Here is where you see bike helmet lights, safety vests, gloves that work with touch screens, and more.
These products are all fun. I’m convinced that somewhere among these hundreds of booths is a product we will all own someday.
There are a lot of cooking and food products as well.
Here were three of my favorites, just because I loved them no other reason.
It is a 3D printer that prints chocolate!!It is a robot bread maker that makes flat bread!This is a Sake set that is LED illuminated and can be choreographed via an app connected over Bluetooth. When the glasses touch the lights go off in unison!
Just Have To Share
Every year there are a few things that I just have to share. I love seeing this creativity, hustle, and entrepreneurship.
From Ukraine, this is a reusable notebook. Use any pen or pencil and with a solvent you can clean the pages. The hustle in this booth was incredible. See nuka.me. PS: you can’t tear the paper!BigClapper is from Japan and is a modern variant on Maniki Neko. It can welcome, celebrate, attract, and more! Love love this!Basepaws consumer kitten DNA test, sort of a 23andMeow [sic]And this year’s winner for both low-tech and low-brow. Yes this is a rubber band for your TV so you don’t have to see chyrons. Sharktank ready I suppose.