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The 2017 CES News Worth Caring About

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INFLUENCER: Critical Mass CSO Grant Owens offers insight into the sessions & presentations at this year's Consumer Electronics Show

The 2017 CES News Worth Caring About

Intel’s Virtual Reality Presentation 

Intel revealed a series of new VR experiences coming off the back of their Replay Technologies acquisition last year. The noteworthiness of this is less about the improved VR experience innovation and more about the computing power-at-the ready. It’s truly astonishing. In one of their demonstrations each frame of the visual experience was 3GB. I repeat, 3 gigabytes, per frame. So even if they are only delivering 24 frames per second you would be consuming over 1TB of data for every 15 seconds of content. So, if you are reading this article on a smart phone, you would need to combine 3 to 4 more of them just to store 15 seconds of footage. Analysing it from another angle, Intel’s 360 degree recording technology uses a total of 38 high-definition 5k cameras to capture the surrounding environment. This demonstration represented video capture and processing power at a magnitude that boggles my “child of the '80s” mind. It will be the massive processing players like Intel that will make a virtual future possible. 



CES Attendees at Intel’s VR Presentation / image source: Intel 2017

Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa

It isn’t really the Lenovo device that’s interesting. Like the Nvidia Shield, the Lenovo launch is just one of dozens of examples where the major players in voice interaction are lending their agents out to external device brands. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon each announced partnerships with third-party brands to use their corresponding Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa services. LG’s connected fridge is now Alexa-enabled. Nissan and BMW announced partnerships to incorporate Cortana and Hyundai struck a deal with Google’s Assistant. Nvidia is integrating Google Assistant into their new Shield over-the-top streaming device. Mattel even announced a kid-friendly device powered by Cortana. This is just a cluster of indications that we’re moving away from typing, clicking, and swiping and towards pervasive voice interactions. It has already happened in my household...


Fossil Will Now Offer 300+ Smart Watches

As promised, Apple delivered the momentum to the smart watch category that it needed to become a durable consumer category. In turn, Fossil Group now says that they will double their connected watch offering across their brand portfolio. This is the first CES where a smart watch hasn’t been seen as a novelty still trying to find its primary use. Smart watches are here to stay and your uncle Jerry will no longer ask you what stupid toy you have on your wrist now — well he might, but he’s just doing it out of habit, not because he hasn’t seen a backlit wristwatch before. 

Any One of the Autonomous Vehicle Announcements

There is a driverless car in all of our futures. What CES 2017 made clear is that this technology won’t only be for the wealthiest leisure classes over the next few years — the features that make a vehicle autonomous are being discussed among all manufacturers and the costs of ownership are therefore going to drop precipitously. I’m actually in the market for a car as I write this and I plan to sign nothing longer than a 2-year lease because I’m convinced that in 24 months I will be buying a new and reasonably priced car that is capable of being fully autonomous (in the states that will allow it). And in all likelihood it won’t be a Tesla Motors model (who is arguably already delivering autonomous vehicles).

HDMI 2.1 

The HDMI Forum, a group of electronics companies like Sony, Google, and Netflix, have announced plans to release HDMI 2.1 this summer. The latest HDMI specifications will support resolutions up to 10K. So now the limiting step of image clarity clearly won’t be the wires. In fact, the resolution sent through HDMI 2.1 will be well beyond the perceivable resolution of the human eye on any reasonably sized screen that will fit in your home. So why does this even matter? Well the improved HDMI standard also delivers data at 48 gigabits per second (compared to 18Gbps for today’s HDMI 2.0 or 10Gbps within the most widely used HDMI 1.4). That amount of data will allow for more frame rates and 'smoothness' in fast action scenes and gaming that will rival a real world feel. And don’t worry about buyers remorse, all of the new connections will be backwards compatible (i.e., old peripherals will still work).

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

The folks at Qualcomm and Qualcomm Ventures get it. The one feature that consistently ranks at the top of consumers' smartphone wish list is battery life. Consumers crave it more than most features hardware manufacturers typically tout each year (e.g. water resistance, screen durability, megapixels, etc.). Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon chip reduces processing-related battery drain by 25 percent. People want battery life. Period. At a future CES someone will announce a revolutionary battery technology that will make the inventor gazillions, but until then at least Qualcomm understands the incremental gains people actually want. 

It Wouldn’t be a Complete CES List Without IoT...

...but this year the Internet of Things is being shown in a different light. IoT itself isn’t news — in 2017 IoT just is, and will continue, to be a predictable part of most physical products debuting at CES. It’s no longer interesting to announce that your [enter old school product here] connects to your smartphone or the Internet in some way, it’s just expected to. If you are exhibiting a new thing at CES your device is more likely than not a node in the internet of everything. This week, LG alone promoted a connected oven, fridge, lawn mower, airport assistant robot, home virtual assistant, and air conditioner. CES 2017 also featured connected wheelchairstrashcans, and grain silos. But again, this isn't big news, they’re just new and - of course - they’re connected. 

Finally…

If any of you are getting worried about what you can get me for my birthday in March, CES 2017 featured an underwater drone and laundry-folding robot. Those’ll do. Thanks in advance. 

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Critical Mass US, Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:19:19 GMT