We got to Las Vegas earlier in the week and took a self-driving Lyft from the Wynn to the Convention Center – super fun! CES 2020 officially started on Tuesday and there were so many amazing booths and exhibits being set up prior to this that we decided to go “backstage” to see what we could see.
Big Buzz Words
There’s a theme this year: The coolest technology is smarter, is faster, listens, and speaks.
5G, AI, Voice, AV, eVTOL, AR, XR – get out your lexicon. Just from the signage, it is alphabet soup this year.
You can’t walk five steps without seeing a sign for 5G. And, of course, every exhibit has a sign that says something about AI and Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Demonstrating the power and potential of 5G is going to be interesting. “Here, check out our superfast wireless network – it works just like your current indoor superfast wireless network, except I can charge you to use it.”
While CES has traditionally been about hardware, this year I’m seeing more and more services on offer. Hardware margins are thin. Subscription service margins are awesome. It is a trend. From subscription food to home security to meditation, if it can be packaged as a service, it’s here at CES.
“Have you ever met an ‘Artificial?’” There’s no word on what, exactly, Samsung Neon is (yet), but Samsung has been teasing its “artificial human” all week – and I can’t wait to meet it!
The best guess right now is that Samsung’s Neon is a digital avatar/computer-generated human that you can interact with. The possibilities are nearly endless: it can be used for work (think concierge or receptionist), for play (think Westworld), for healthcare (as a home companion), or for anything else you could imagine.
All we know for sure is that Neon doesn’t have anything to do with Bixby, Samsung’s existing AI assistant, and that we’ll know a lot more very soon.
More VTOLs, AVs, and Auto stuff
AVs are here (we just took one) but I’m excited to see what’s next. Honda is showing off some great advancements in its Smart Intersection, Safe Swarm, and DriveMode technologies. BlackBerry is highlighting all the exciting stuff its QNX software can enable.
At CES 2019, Bell stole the show with the Nexus VTOL, which you may remember as the human-carrying air taxi drone that looks like it was born out of the Halo video game series. Hyundai is going to show off its concept for a flying taxi. Perhaps the CES will also become the “Las Vegas Air Show.” We’ll see.
Considering the U.S. economy is driven by the auto industry (pardon the pun), the companies on display in North Hall are going to offer one of the clearest glimpses into our tech future.
Huawei is the world’s #1 telecom supplier and #2 phone manufacturer, but their smartphones are virtually nonexistent in the U.S. They’re here at CES along with many other top Chinese brands, including Hisense, Xperi, Changhong, and TCL. Over the past 10 years, China has transformed from a total copycat tech community to a community of exceptional innovation. I will leave the politics of this transition for another article.
As I’ve written before, the tech in China (and its path to the future as a result of China’s data policies) will make it just about impossible for America to catch up, let alone compete. Considering the political climate, it will be interested to see how the various companies present themselves here at the show.
Privacy and Security
The velocity of data is increasing and will always increase. Where does that data come from, where is it stored, who gets to use it, and for how long? These are questions that lots of big tech companies are trying to help you answer. The subject is front and center – which is great, because data privacy is one of most important topics of our time.
Smart TVs have been around for years. And every year, TV manufacturers do their best to try to make us care about higher picture quality. Bigger TVs, better picture, better interface…yawn!
This year, there’s something to talk about. Cord cutting is real, and, if you cut the cord, you have access to enough bandwidth to see amazing picture quality and hear the best audio. This is not possible with a cable TV set top box. The intersection of the internet (network), display technology (TVs), and content (streaming video) makes 2020 the first year that there is a valid reason to purchase a new, big, awesome, flat screen.
CES is far and away my favorite show. This year don’t think about CES in terms of gadgets or single products. Think of it as a world’s fair filled with technology that will work together to change our lives.