“Don't provoke me, pal! I've had a tough day here! I'm like this with Weinberger! We'll be all over you like a cheap suit!” – Ralph, “The Jewel of the Nile,” SLM Productions, 1985
International CES is one of the best AR (alternate reality) events you can attend … ever!
Fight your way through the aisles and aisles and aisles … and you swear to gawd the world will completely change even beyond “Star Wars – The Force Awakens.”
I dragged my sorry, beaten behind home knowing exactly what I was going to invest in – electrical power production companies and Musk’s gigabattery plant.
Everything will be connected and everything will require power!
The automobile is becoming irrelevant because well, you really don’t have to go anywhere to work, buy stuff, order dinner or touch the outside world. But still, the design, the sex appeal gets a guy’s motor runnin’.
Faraday Future, the Chinese electric car company, kicked things off by showing their prototype that will probably never be seen on the road.
Super Sleek – China’s Faraday Future unveiled their concept car FFZER01 at CES with 1000 HP, a top speed of 200 MPH and the ability to get to 60 MPH in 3 seconds. The all-electric rocket is like most of the auto industry’s concepts, something we may not see on the road but at least the auto folks tell you at the outset it is a concept not a thing.
It’s totally impractical. Totally powerful. Totally cool. Totally electric.
Car people are rapidly taking over the consumer electronics industry. There’s nowhere they don’t want to be by 2020.
Your car will be electronically, automatically attuned to you.
Ford says it will also handle things at the house.
Toyota has set up a $1B lab to solve any/all problems, needs.
The car folks know everyone isn’t going to have 1-2 cars in the garage, so Ford, Audi, GM, etc. are taking on Uber and Lyft so you can share the car with your neighbors (whom you probably don’t talk too).
Ford’s Sync is ready to start your car for you, turn the lights on/off in the house, set your thermostat, warm up your entertainment center, check for thieves, start the robot vacuum … everything. To them, the house is just an extension of your life so it should be the center of everything.
The Chevy Bolt, which is going to be a long-range, affordable electric car; was unveiled at CES rather than the Detroit Auto Show because well, all the auto folks were there to show off how cool and “with it” they really are.
Cars aren’t your grandpa’s iron horse any more.
The concept cars are totally 2020 plus and the models you see on the dealers’ show floors next year are moving to autonomous.
To be a part of the event, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Pioneer infotainment, Panasonic car solutions and others were everywhere.
With more than 72.5M vehicles sold last year, they’re investing heavily for the future so you can expect to see brands disappear through consolidation over the next couple of years.
It’s no wonder both Nvidia and Intel want a big piece of the underlying technology.
Note: The concept cars were called concepts for a reason.
Today, the companies come up with these wild CASE (connected autonomous shared electric) ideas, then they spend a couple of years doing something weird – they test them with real consumers to see which of the advanced ideas has traction.
If it doesn’t cut the mustard, one idea is replaced with another until they (hopefully) get it right five years from now.
Right now, it’s all about saving time, money and the environment.
Each manufacturer had great ideas for their solution for me … until I returned from Vegas.
Legacy Things – The CE industry (which now includes cars) usually develops a complete solution you’ll love but unfortunately, you also have a couple of other great solutions sitting around that don’t talk to the new thing so you have a control for each of your things that don’t talk to the other things. Great, just freakin’ great!
We have three different, fairly new keyless cars. Each has the biggest, blackest, ugliest control unit. Since I don’t decide which car I’m going to drive ahead of time, I carry all three with me.
There had to be maybe a thousand different smart home complete, partial, little bit solutions at the show to keep me safe, keep me warm, keep me at home.
They were all so cool it was hard to choose the ones you wanted installed in your home.
Baby monitors, thermostats, kitchen gadgets and other "smart" devices were all designed to add convenience to your daily life, even if you didn’t know you needed ‘em.
Home Sweet Connected Home – All of the major players in the industry put their best home solutions forward at CES, showing how everything worked beautifully together to take care of you. Most folks start with safety and security, and then think about the rest of the smart home.
The big hitters had their own homes – Panasonic, LG, Samsung and others had end-to-end solutions for you from the moment someone walked up to the house to when you tucked yourself into bed at night.
And all of them worked together so easily – at least on the show floor.
Even the little robovacs knew their place!
They made their way around the beer robot … mixology center … diet handling spoons/forks and well, you name it.
Of course, you had to be amazed at Samsung’s refrigerator that kept track of when and how frequently you opened the door and sent the information somewhere.
Then too, there was a remote screen you could write notes to yourself and the family so you wouldn’t forget what you were going to talk about when you got home.
Cool Brain – With the kitchen being the center of most home life, Samsung unveiled a new refrigerator that designed to be the center of the center that captures all of the stuff going on in the kitchen. The company also advanced the idea of the TV set being the control center for your new smart home.
It would do all that and more for a mere $5K plus. Then there’s the added electricity required to track how often you went for a yogurt vs. a beer or ice cream.
It’s all part of a $100B industry that we’ll be contributing data and money to by 2020.
Yeah, that’s twice what we all contributed to in 2015 but come on, just think how much more it’s going to know about you and do for you.
But you have to keep in mind that in 2020, 20B of the IoT (Internet of Things) sensors out of the total 50B worldwide will be in the home gathering information, determining what needs to be done and doing it even before you know you need it.
To take advantage of all of it, you do have to upgrade your refrigerator more than once every 10 years, your light bulbs more than once every three-four years, your ceiling fans more than once every 8-10 years and your thermostat more than the life of the house.
While we have some naysayers, I have to say the new TV sets – HDR(high definition resolution) UHD (ultra high definition) 4K TVs at the show were spectacular. And the prices started out … reasonable!
Viewing Beauty – LG and others introduced the generation now HDR UHD 4K TV set that is not only super smart but delivers an even more dramatically compelling image. With 4K content already being widely offered, HDR images will begin streaming to add to the excitement in a few months.
Content was mind blowing. Sound was awesome (should be for those with Dolby Atmos) and true, there is only a smattering of HDR.
I dislike the people who are telling you to drag your feet on getting the new sets because they are super and they are so full of BS. There is a lot of very good 4K content (more than their bad eyes realize).
Most of that tail dragging is because “their” show isn’t in real 4K so they say, “Wait till 4K is here.”
And you can get it your way – through the cable, OTT (over the air), satellite provider, pay as you go, you name it.
It’s there and if you caught Reed Hastings (Netflix), he’s going to take killer entertainment global now that he’s one of the biggest studios (and providers) around!
What I stumbled across at ShowStoppers was this guy who had (what else?) a smart remote.
Well, right after settling into my room in Vegas, the wife called.
She couldn’t get our new super better, super expensive remote entertainment controller to work (you do not want to know what she was saying).
And it was all my fault!
Magic Wand – The pre-show press events like CES Unveiled and ShowStoppers are excellent opportunities to find those neat items you probably wouldn’t get to see while running the miles of CES and stumbling into/out of the 3,600 booths. If the entertainment/everything remote will just control your entertainment systems as advertised, it will be a gangbuster as long as you can just use it instead of being trained by it.
She used the old simple one until I got home but if the Sevenhugs remote is half as good as he was telling us … sold!
And I don’t care if it does control everything in the house I don’t have everything ready to be controlled … and won’t for quite awhile. Maybe two-three generations from now.
Until then, the set manufacturers are trying to talk us into connecting everything in the house to be managed by the TV set, which has a whole set of its own always-on, insecurity issues.
Love the beauty, intensity of the shows … that’s about it!
Virtual is Hot
Yes, there were drones over in their big area and they even had their equivalent of the Reno Air Races in the desert.
They and the robots whapped into a few folks; but this time, there were only a few bumps, bruises … this time.
But the real excitement surrounded the one-eyed purple people-eaters (the VR/AR things).
My Own World – VR goggles were the hit of the show during CES, giving you new places to go, new things to see/experience all while sitting or standing around. It could be the way you attend trade shows in the future.
There were a bunch of new headsets and augmented glasses on the CES floor with tons of cool “adventures” you could enjoy. No wonder VR unit sales are expected to jump 500 percent this year with over a million units. AR is expected to hit about $550M.
They were all cool and fun until we learned one thing – less than one percent of the PCs out there are powerful enough to run the kind of high-end VR technology folks showed at CES.
You heard it right. And that was from Nvidia, who should know graphics inside and out.
So right now, it’s pretty much limited to game play or some awesome unreal world/real world walking around.
I was looking for a practical application when the young engineers panel at Storage Visions gave me the “ah-ha” answer.
Future Employees – During the future engineering panel session at Storage Visions – two days before CES at the Luxor, up-and-coming engineers discussed the pros and cons of office vs. remote work. With the right apps, VR could give employees the best of both worlds and better productivity for the company.
One of the questions from the floor was “do you prefer to work remotely or in an office/team environment.
About half wanted the office, half wanted remote and added that people had to have the right temperament and discipline for both but all of them wanted a job!
It dawned on me that VR was the real answer for tomorrow’s workforce because your best people could be located anywhere in the world. If they wanted to be in the office they donned their headgear and BAM! they were there working side by side with the other folks.
If they wanted quiet time or to just sit back and think in quiet, they could take the headgear off and be alone.
Damn, I love it!
With all of the promise of a better way of life, there were wearables of every shape, shade, kind – wrist, finger and clothes, as well as sports bras, shorts and shoes. They were anywhere they could design in a sensor and send data.
Feel Good Juice – W.C. Fields would have been right at home selling some of the new wearables being demonstrated at CES. Just put the sensor on and you feel better, look better, are at your ideal weight and in the peak of health despite all the junk food you continue eating. When one fitness unit doesn’t do the job in six months, simply replace it with a newer, better one.
Despite the fact that I doubt if any of them had been glanced at by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), UL (Underwriters Lab), CU (Consumer’s Union) or had undergone any sort of field testing or checking their promises for a better body, better life; they were throughout the convention.
And it makes me think how glad I am to be back from Vegas and going to the club to work out every day.
It’s the first of the year and we have a new mob of folks with resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, be a better person and … they’ll have one of everything.
Seen it for 20 plus years:
At the end of 30 days, half will have fallen off the wagon.
30 more days and half of the remainder will be back on the couch, having beer/chips in front of the TV.
By the end of 6 months, 3-4 will still be with the program, even though they may not have met their goal but have found out it is fun.
Next year; there will be new commitments, newer/better wearables, fresh shoes/outfits and the cycle will continue.
For the rest of them Omar will say, “You're free to leave. Should you leave, I will not stop you… but I will not provide transportation to any airport, train station or port for you”
As for you and me … we’ll always have CES.