This year it was a 50th anniversary of the Consumer Electronics Show that for decades serves as the launchpad for world-changing technologies and innovations. A lot of predictions have been made, accompanied by rumors and speculations on what will be “The Next Big Thing” that will disrupt yet another aspect of our lives.
As our teams makes its way back from a fantastic and busy weekend full of demonstrations and meetings, here’re some of our key observations from the world’s premier technology show.
TVs are erasing the line between streaming and broadcast
From high-end manufacturers like Samsung and LG to Chinese vendors like Hisense and TCL, all were displaying their integrated smart interfaces that include both streaming apps and broadcast channels in one screen. Mostly targeting the cord-cutters and millennials, those devices already have the streaming services pre-installed in their main interface. This allows viewers to easily flip between live TV and Netflix and browse the content from broadcast and streaming services on the big screen. Indeed a great time for streaming media business.
From more pixels to quantum dots
Although we did not expect much innovation on the technology side, the TVs looked richer, with more light output and with the most incredible designs we’ve seen so far. All of them where monster-sized 4K screens- with some brands showing also 8K models– and the majority of them were HDR-compatible devices, powered by 4 main technologies including Dolby Vision and Technicolor HDR. But those are the same trends we’ve been seeing since 2016.
Quantum dots or OELD? This year most of the major manufacturers seemed to be i
n favor of the microscopic dots. Samsung showed-off their new QLED TVs series and so as Hisense, TCL and Sharp. But, it was LG who definitely stole the show, and also grabbed the CES Innovation Award, for its crazy thin OLED Wallpaper series– only 2.6mm thick and so light that you can attach to the wall using magnets!
The virtually obvious
As expected, virtual reality once again was everywhere in CES. It actually felt that VR was an obligatory aspect for almost every exhibitor who wanted to seem up-to-date. There were too many products presented in the VR space, mainly aimed to integrate with and enhance the experiences the current headsets are offering. Special VR shoes and gloves to help users “feel” the virtual world, motion tracking solutions, VR chairs, wireless kits for headsets like HTC Vive, mobile VR controllers were also showcased during the exhibition.
We’ve noticed that high-quality HD content becomes available and even some in 4K. The devices have the ability to display hi-res VR experiences however in order to view the content properly, it still has to be pre-loaded and stored locally. We did not see high-quality immersive experiences being streamed as VOD or live, aside the reported Intel press event during which the attendees experienced live-streamed sports using tethered headsets and our very own hospitality suite where we showcased our latest VR streaming acceleration solution.
VR didn’t go untethered this year as was expected.
There are still challenges such as battery size or overheating for example that need to be addressed. No significant advancements were made on improving the display or reducing the bulkiness of the headsets- all that is actually needed to take the commercial VR one step forward.
The mobile VR experiences where pretty much redundant to what was showcased last year during 2016 MWC. Some even say that VR was quite boring as the tech giants didn’t really demonstrate any major advancements since last year.
Unlike the tech community, the filmmakers and content producers had multiple previews of their new VR experiences. Fox Innovation Lab flashed its “Planet of the Apes VR“, Baobab previewed the upcoming “Asteroids!”, Cirque du Soleil VR experience was launched by Felix & Paul and (not surprisingly) the adult content industry did not remain silent.
The future car
We haven’t seen so many cars and automotive technology in CES like we’ve seen this year. This is where we’ve noticed the most innovation. Futuristic designs and self-driving cars from Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Chrysler alongside partnerships like the one of BMW with Intel, Microsoft and Amazon aimed to present the car-makers’ vision of connected vehicle with holographic control.
Next-generation safety systems, AI assistants, energy efficiency enhancements, hyper-connectivity,
entertainment systems, gesture and motion control and other sci-fi like features where all there. The automotive industry is trying to make sure that you will stay connected to your car in the same manner you are connected to your smartphone.
CES is one the most media-covered shows in the world, with hundreds of announcements across many industries. But seeing how all those different segments starting to blend together to deliver consumers the products and the experiences of the future, that for years we’ve been seeing only in Hollywood creations, was truly amazing. We do already live in the future.