The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is on again this year in Las Vegas. It is always fascinating to learn what is new in the world of technology and what trends are popping up and going away. As usual, television sets are getting bigger with better screens, the competition to create automated cars is heating up, augmented reality is overtaking virtual reality in creating a new digital environment for people to explore and wearable technology is finally working out its niche in healthcare.
CES delivers more TVs, as usual
Let’s start with TVs, and take a look at what LG is doing. LG has designed a 65-inch 4K OLED TV that can roll up like a poster. So far, it seems like the picture quality does not suffer, and the roll-up screen technology could find its way as a design for smartphones. This evolution of TV screens follows on from LG’s release of an 18-inch roll-up TV in 2016. The screen that time was small and did not have HD capabilities, but the TV was showing where LG was heading with their ideas.
TVs from other companies are opening up to new formats to be compatible with the devices and streaming services consumers use in their daily life. High dynamic range (HDR) video, Dolby Vision, and HRD10+ support are growing as other technologies drop in price. UHD TV sets are dropping in price, opening up a market for high-end TVs. The companies showing off their TVs include Samsung, TCL, Sharp, and Panasonic.
So, what is happening with automated cars?
Automated cars are something that has been in the media a lot, but how close they are to being able to get consumers around is still in question. Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett comes from Ford’s Smart Mobility division and has one foot in technology and the other in car manufacturing. Ford is competing with a range of companies it has not competed with before, such as Google and Apple. CES looks to have other car makers giving us a glimpse of their plans such as Hyundai Motor Co., BMW AG, and Audi AG.
One of the newest companies to explore driverless technology or Smart Intuitive Vehicle technology is a Chinese startup call Byton. The dashboard and digital devices listen for your voice to get directions on what to do and can read hand gestures of the occupants. There is also a facial recognition system, three screens per occupant, a robot assistant and six onboard projectors. The service Lyft will be giving visitors to CES the chance to have a ride in a semi-autonomous car.
AR is growing, VR is going down
VR was expected to expand following the advances in technology from Microsoft’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive. However, the barriers to entry for consumers were too high and costly. To buy a computer system that can handle VR headsets is out of reach of most people, and the headsets from Google and Samsung that used your smartphone to simulate the VR experience seemed like more of a plaything without being too impressive in the long run. What is stepping up after the explosion of Pokemon Go is AR.
Apple is aiming to up the AR game with the new ARKit framework. ARKit is a platform for developers to create an AR environment to add to the everyday life of consumers. The technology involved in AR can for development in newer model smartphones, or old models can use AR such as in the way of Pokemon Go. AR will not just be on smartphones, but goggles and glasses at the high end of the market. Other companies who are looking to be at the forefront of AR technology include Google with their ARCore, Snap Inc’s Lens Studio and Facebook’s AR Studio. Something interesting is coming from Meta Co, a “touchable” AR supercar.
Wearable technology has had a tough life, being something new that early adopters latched on to but never really took off. Devices from companies like Fitbit originally felt as if they could help with fitness, but how accurate their step counters or heartrate monitors were was always a question. Some users would reach their target while driving or moving their wrist while still, for example. What looks like growing is blood pressure monitors, medical alert devices, gluten sensors, fertility monitors and more sleep trackers than you can imagine. For countries like China and Australia that have aging populations, this technology is coming just in time. For the elderly, disabled or people with medical conditions, the connectivity in these devices can mean the difference between life and death, health, and sickness.
The 2018 CES is definitely showing what competing trends are coming up in the tech world. Large companies are opening themselves up to move into new areas and being challenged by smaller startups for dominance. What is difficult to tell is how the technology at CES will evolve for next year’s event.