As another CES comes to an end, we look at the key trends from this year’s showcase of all things tech.
A major theme of recent years has been the connected home, and 2017 was not short of smart gadgets designed to make our lives ‘easier’. This included, of course, connected toasters, talking fridges and even connected hair brushes. The big winner in this category at this year’s show was Amazon’s Alexa platform, which combines cloud-powered AI with a voice interface. A number of manufacturers announced Alexa support in their products including handset makers LG putting it into a fridge and a raft of TV manufacturers putting it into their sets.
Natural language interfaces are really starting to mature, so you might spend more time talking to your house than your family in the future.
You would be forgiven for wondering if CES actually stood for the Car Electronics Show as the amount of floor space taken up by automobile manufacturers increases dramatically each year. Cars are perhaps the ultimate connected device and this year saw a number of tie ups between tech and car companies including Audi and Mercedes-Benz teaming up with Nvidia for their AI Car Platform, Ford announcing the integration of Amazon’s Alexa and Nissan offering the same but with Microsoft’s competing Cortana system.
The biggest wow factor was probably from a new car company called Faraday Future who unveiled their FF91, an all-electric car with an astonishing 1050bhp that can accelerate from 0-60 in 2.39 seconds – much faster than it took you to read this sentence and about the same as your average F1 car.
One of the TV highlights of CES each year are the latest OLED displays. They offer beautiful colours and contrast inside incredibly thin panels. LG have long been the trailblazers in this category and their latest W7 models redefine what a thin TV is – with their slimmest model coming in at a mere 2.57mm. That’s thinner than a pound coin and makes the 7.1mm iPhone 7 look positively chunky. A number of other manufacturers also announced OLED sets for 2017 including Sony. Elsewhere in TV land, 4K displays were too mainstream to mention and HDR was pretty much standard across the board (in its many standards). Sony also displayed a very fine 4K laser projector, yours for a mere $25,000.
VR finally hit the shops in some volume in 2016 with HTC’s Vive, Oculus Rift and Sony’s PS VR shipping. While there is still a dearth of content available, there were some significant announcements at this year’s show including Intel’s Project Alloy VR headset which promises a tether-less future with dev kits shipping later this year. A key focus for innovation was on how to improve the interaction experience with a number of tracking systems and controller advancements on show. On the content side, FOX showcased their Innovation Lab work which includes VR experiences for Alien: Covenant and Planet of the Apes to join The Martian VR Experience it has already released.
So, another CES ends and we get a glimpse of the sort of tech that we can look forward to – or not – in the year ahead.
Steve Plunkett, CTO, Broadcast and Media Services