Tonight will mark the start of the annual CES show held in Las Vegas and one of the most eagerly anticipated dates in tech sector’s calendar. The Consumer Electronics Show has become a yearly pilgrimage for tech companies from the giants of FAANG and China’s BAT to tiny start-ups as well as technology journalists and enthusiasts.
All are eager to either show off what they are working on in the hope of press coverage, admiration and investor interest or be among the first to catch a glimpse of the latest technology in the world often long before it is commercialised.
Usually the tech being exhibited represents incremental developments in already established trends such as 5G internet hardware, electric and autonomous vehicles, smart speakers, voice activated personal assistants, VR, wearables and a huge range of IoT home appliances. However, just occasionally the first generation of an entirely new trend also makes its debut at the CES. VCRs, blu-ray DVDs, online gaming and the first Android tablets were all unveiled at CES in years gone by.
So what is this year expected to have in store for the watching world?
IoT: ‘smart appliances’ are tipped to dominate this year’s event as tech company’s hope to convince consumers that every home appliance piece of consumer tech they own should be connected to the internet. Smart toothbrushes and shoes to smart mirrors and even smart painting sets will all be exhibited.
Most of the ‘smart’ gadgets on show will probably be demonstrated via hook-ups to ‘personal assistants’ like Amazon’s Alexa the Google Assistant, showing compatibility as these smart home tech hubs gain in popularity.
Autonomous Vehicles: not for the first time, driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles as well as related tech designed to be compatible with this new generation of automobiles can be expected to be heavily present. However, car makers will also show other new innovations. Hyundai will showcase a prototype car with extendable legs held in its chassis that can be deployed to allow the vehicle to ‘walk’ over particularly challenging terrain.
Healthcare and Beauty: pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and the wider healthcare sector are increasingly influenced by tech as big data analytics and AI start to drive ‘personalised’ treatments.
8k Resolution Screens
4k resolution has seen home entertainment screen sizes leap again over the past few years and this year is expected to see the likes of Samsung and LD unveil prototypes of their new 8k screens. There is usually a lag of several years before the latest generation TVs exhibited at tech shows become price competitive enough for mass commercialisation, and some like 3D TV technology, never take off. But that fate is unlikely to meet 8k and couch potatoes and tech buffs will start to get excited about the high res viewing they will be able to enjoy a few years from now.
Gaming and VR: gaming technology is of course always a major component of CES and 2019 won’t be any different. PlayStation will unveil its foot-powered 3dRudder controller that gamers will be able to buy as a new accessory to improve their VR experience. Nvidia will also demonstrate its own next generation gaming technology. The chipmaker will showcase its new Nvidia RTX gaming engine that incorporated AI and its Turing microarchitecture chip technology.
Security: against the backdrop of a 2018 peppered by data breach scandals and increasing scrutiny by governments and regulators on how much personal data giant tech companies hold on users, it can be almost guaranteed that security will be a greater focus than ever before at CES 2019. Tech companies can be expected to place emphasis on addressing security concerns when exhibiting new products.
Of course, much, if not most, of the weird and wonderful technology on show at CES every year never sees the light of day in terms of successful commercialisation. But a lot does and goes on to shape the technology landscape over the coming years and even decades. And its uncovering those nuggets first that keeps the attendees, estimated to number 180,000 this year, continuing to make their pilgrimage into the Nevada desert year after year.