Here are just a few thoughts about what I saw and what people were talking about at CES 2018.
Voice. Okay, so I have to get used to talking to my light bulbs, TV, vacuum cleaner, garage door opener, refrigerator and the fireplace. Welcome to the new era of voice-enabled devices. And I’m okay with that. I mean, who doesn’t want to have a conversation with a scent-diffuser? Or a roll of toilet paper.
The most interesting thing I heard at the show involved voice (and this was from an incredibly connected and smart person in the know) – how incredibly difficult it is to actually be able to do voice-enabled anything – especially holding a real conversation. We are in the infancy of this technology and there is a tremendous way to go before we get to Star Trek capability. His opinion was that we wouldn’t see true AI conversational gadgets in our lifetime.
Hi-Res Audio Streaming. The music industry has successfully moved from a download model to a streaming model, and hardware companies converged on CES in support of hi-res streaming services. MQA steaming got off to a good start with Tidal’s 2017 launch and there are a handful of services who have committed to hi-res streaming in early 2018. Here are some numbers released by the RIAA: in the first half of 2017, retail-level streaming revenues grew 48 percent to $2.5 billion, accounting for 62 percent of total industry revenues of just under $4 billion.
It was also reported that European streaming and download heavyweight, Qobuz, is going to enter the US market this year. They offer over 40 million CD-quality titles and one million hi-res titles. And, the consensus was that hi-res audio streaming would, in the future, be part of a bundled service approach, offering live concerts and other music-oriented programming.
Can’t wait to give these as a birthday present. A company called Spartan was showing their radiation-blocking men’s underwear. I’m not joking! He can now protect the family jewels from radiation exposure from cellphones, laptop computers (duh!) and other electronic gadgets. Additionally, (per their literature) it prevents bacteria from proliferating and eliminates odors that may build up. So, it’s got that going for it as well.
VR. I saw some amazing stuff at CES involving VR and augmented reality. The gaming industry showed some amazing concepts and it’s all pretty cool; and that’s where VR is taking off. The industry is projected to have crossed $1 billion in sales for 2017 and is projected to double in 2018. But, besides gaming, think about how cool it will be to attend a convention (CES 2024?) virtually. No cab lines. No lost luggage. Just plug in and walk the show floor. I’m more excited about this technology than anything else I saw (except the Sony credenza projector that shoots a 147-inch image onto the wall above it! I know, I know, it’s $50K – but in just a few years it will be affordable for us mere mortals).
Print cameras! Wow, Polaroid and Kodak are back with ‘printomatic’ cameras. About the coolest retro product I’ve ever seen. We’ve come full circle, haven’t we? You can take pictures of your vinyl collection and print them out for your friends.
Funnest place. Eureka Park is the innovation hotbed of CES and there were so many start-ups showing so many cool and innovative products. What was really smart was the presentations – everything from how to bring a product to life, to how to ensure profitability, to how technology is building a better world. Fun, exciting and over 800 start-ups trying to get their message out to potential investors.