Perspectives On CES 2016

All at once, the show is exhilarating and exhausting, new and original, and at times redundant. It is also crowded, but even in the midst of 160,000 + wall to wall people, we still manage to see people we know as we check out the exhibits.

There were aspects of the show that were leaps ahead of where they were last year, specifically the significantly larger exhibit area devoted to automotive technology and the area dedicated to all manner of products and services related to virtual reality and augmented reality.

Both were not only larger, but appeared to have significantly more new technology to showcase than the prior year. It was not just more of the same as other exhibit areas appeared to be.

Our overall strategizing and advanced planning of our time paid off. Following are more specifics as to our perspective in select areas, keeping in mind, that it is impossible to report on all products and services at the show and even those that did catch our eye.

Catching our eye – Pardon the pun, but not only did many products in both the automotive, virtual reality and augmented reality exhibits get our attention, but several in the healthcare area caught our eye as well, literally.

These were related to such exhibitors as EyeTech, RightEye and Quantum Interface, among others. Eye tracking for health care, automotive for precluding distracted driving and in advertising for viewer analysis will grow considerably in the coming years. Some of the eye-tracking technology products fall under the heading of wearables, while others represent digital technology used in testing for eye disease and other health issues.

Still others, such as LooxidLabs’ product, incorporates cognitive technologies into its devices in its eye-brain interface platform.

Automotive – Separate from the eyetracking aspect of monitoring for impaired driving, the concept as an authentication tool for ownership has promise. Indicative of the growth for autonomous driving vehicles were the sheer number of sensors built into the next generation car. While this is not new news, Kia built a model of a car out of plexiglass and mounted all of the sensors and cameras visibly on the model. As you can imagine, this caught our eye. Check out my Instagram post on this.

Not to be outdone, perhaps the most startling and busiest booth was Faraday Future, whose all electric vehicle was as futuristic looking as they come. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds have a photo posted of the car which is still several years away from delivery.

Display technology – Indicative of the maturation of the display, tablet and smartphone industry is that the leading companies serving these markets, albeit with enormous footprints at the convention center, had mostly incremental changes to show in their products. Many of the products in this category have been commoditized, the same way that PCs have been for many years. It is a natural part of the lifecycle of tech products.

That said, there was a definite uptick in High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays. This technology, with the promise to enhance UHD/4K images, will become the standard in the next few years. Conversely, there were noticeably fewer 3D displays at the major manufacturer’s booths.

Virtual reality – The VR/AR area was a frenzy, both times we passed through. In particular, the Oculus booth was the busiest with lines stretching around the booth as attendees were anxious to test the latest from this Facebook owned organization. ODG or Osterhous Design Group’s augmented reality glasses were the most compelling that we tested. Lumus Optical also had a product that served to enhance the vision of those with less than optimal eyesight in addition to its basic AR glasses.

The next 6 months are going to be very telling in relation to market acceptance as Oculus, Sony and HTC release their VR products.

In the near term, AR glasses appear to have more potential in the market – initially in the enterprise space, but before too long, the applications will filter to the consumer.

Drones – As expected the drones area was abuzz with products at all points on the value chain. This is not surprising following the first holiday season where drones became a viable gift. Professional and consumer use of drones is still at an early stage, but we expect the industry to reach new heights in the coming years.

Internet of things and wearables – Seemingly everywhere, these two categories were ubiquitous across multiple larger categories of products and services. Both categories have been around for many years, but it seemed this year that there was more innovation, accelerating, perhaps as a result of the maturation of the industry and acceptance in the marketplace.

Three standouts include PetChatz, a device that is app enabled and connects to wifi enables the not at home Mom/Dad to call the family dog or for the dog to call the parents. Humans can dispense a treat as a reward to the pet. Sorry, the opposite does not seem to be available, at least at yet.

The Memini wearable camera has a built in buffer that enables the user to capture images after the fact – the kind when one might have said, “I should have pulled out my camera for that.” Now, those sometimes fleeting images are not gone forever.

Lastly, one of the CES Innovation Awards was for a high tech toilet. Although we do not have all of the details, we assume that there is more medical than cosmetic benefits attached to the device.

Film – There were a lot of people circling the Kodak booth, including us, to get a glimpse of the new Super 8 film camera. There are certainly a lot of people that continue to prefer film as noted in several of this year’s movie releases, with Star Wars and the Hateful Eight the most high profile. Will this Kodak product be viable? All TBD.

Pictures of select products mentioned in this newsletter have been posted on our Facebook page under the CES Album.

Dateline Orange County
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Tuesday, 26 March 2019
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