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What is New and Cool at the Consumer Electronics Show

January 8, 2013 | Telepresence Options

cesmontage.jpg

David Danto is the former head of telepresence, videoconferencing, and multimedia at JP Morgan Chase and Lehman. Now he is the Principal Consultant for Multimedia, Video, and AV at systems integration powerhouse Dimension Data. David is on the ground at the Consumer Electronic Show and is providing the most sophisticated analysis of what is new and cool found anywhere on the Internet. David will be reporting daily and we will be updating this page daily with his breaking reports.

Show Day 2

This is the part of CES that gets a bit fuzzy. I've seen so many things already in so many categories that the data can get overwhelming. It's important to take good notes and/or photos and get detailed info from the firms I see. Some of the exhibitors are fully prepared with information when I see them, others are prompt about emailing links same day. Then there are the exhibitors that I just don't get. You walk by their display a couple of times and have no idea what they do based upon what you see. You can't find anyone to explain, and/or they promise a response or email and don't provide one in time to tell about it. It makes one wonder why they undertake the time and expense to be here.

I've mentioned that some somewhat obscure industry terms are going mainstream at this event. Here are the ones I'm looking at - definitions from Wikipedia.

Crowdfunding - (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research. There are a number of firms that are exhibiting at this conference that are getting their start via this relatively new process - mentioned in the New York Times recently. One example is Tetherboard, who showed their Tethercell battery that talks to your smart device. With it you'd know how much your batteries are charged, when they are near end of life, etc. They're using IndieGoGo.

tetherboard.pngGamification - is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning. Essentially, it is a marketing methodology for getting people to learn something or do something in a specific way by making the process of learning it like a game. Firms such as Bunchball and ParWinr are pioneers in this field. At This year's exhibition we saw the entire gamification community bright with glee because Ford Motor's formerly closed AppLink service has been opened for all iOS and Android developers to create apps that will be able to speak to a number of the car's services. This could mean gamification software could assist with making good driving habits rewardable with points or perks the drivers earn.� Imagine getting 10% off your next purchase at Starbucks for driving under the speed limit for a whole month. Just wait till this trend and process spreads throughout the marketing we're exposed to and we experience the power of positive reinforcement consumer's behavior change.

bunchball.jpgContent Curation - (This one is so new it's not even in Wikipedia) It is the process of gathering rich media content, sorting it, applying algorithms against it, and making it available on-demand to consumers who often don't even realize their likes and dislikes are tracked and stored. It is how your TV set or smart device is now or will soon "suggest programs you would like" and then make them available to you. Rambus' Imerz platform is a great example of this, as they have supplied the logic to many manufacturers, and are now working on a direct to consumer app.

rambus.jpgIn other news from today, The SmartTV Alliance announced today that it is up to 11 members, adding Panasonic and IBM of note. Hey have settled on HTML5 as the universal platform that all member firms will remain compatible to for apps and content. They are hopeful that more industry participants will join them so that all manufacturers can leverage the same library of content and applications much more easily than today. Their new slogan is "Build Once, Run Everywhere. I personally hope this catches on with all the manufacturers as it would accelerate the inclusion of compatible smart features in displays, and also accelerate the adoption due to standardization in product function and content.

The number of cool products found (and tweeted by me in real time) are now too many to list in a daily update. I'll include one last one here - Casio Signage

casiosignage.jpgThis is now the second generation of the virtual, projected assistant they showed last year, but now in a short-throw, tabletop, touch sensitive version. The use-cases are almost endless.

This will be my last CES2013 daily update. I'll use the rest of the time here in Las Vegas to gather as much information as I can and present it in my usual "A View From The Road" wrap-up later in the week. As always, you can find the latest links to my blogs and articles at http://Danto.info. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (Http://twitter.com/@NJDavidD) for industry news going forward. I promise to keep the tweets to a minimum - only when the news is of great interest. I'll let Twitter's actors and comedians comment on life's situations - they do quite well without me.

Show Day 1

CES 2013 is open! There is so much going on it is difficult to see it all, much less summarize it. Below are some of my thoughts after a looooong day on the exhibit floor.

This is not my first CES by any stretch. There have always been inexpensive (cheapo) accessory companies selling inexpensive (cheapo) phone covers, screen protectors and related accessories at this show. Some of them were fun to look at, but then a savvy attendee moved on to the real exhibitors and the real news. My wake-up call this year is that according to the CEA tablets and smartphones are the ONLY CE product showing positive growth in sales - nearly 50% year over year. There are now more smartphones in the US than there are people. This means that the tech companies - the "real exhibitors" - are the ones struggling, while these bling and aftermarket accessory companies are the winners (at least in terms of sales volume.) And boy, did it ever look that way:

cesaccessories.jpgcesphone.jpg

I'd have to say that nearly 40% of the exhibitors on the floor were showing these accessory products. Yes, there are some that are more worthy of mention than others - Drycase.com for one example with finally the perfect solution for carrying your smartphone or tablet to the beach or pool. But my point is that as hardware devices continue to get replaced by apps that run on our smart devices, hardware exhibitors will continue to give way to firms that carry accessories for the only hardware we are really buying in volume - tablets and smartphones. (If you do want to buy one of those dry cases use code CES2013 for a discount.) I also saw an HD tablet from a firm named Gadmei with an MSRP of $75 US. The price floor is dropping on smart devices as well. Lastly on the smart device front, in case you haven't seen it, here is a look at the new Huawei Ascend Mate "Phablet" shown next to my business card for some perspective.

huaweiphablet.jpgIs it a phone? Is it a tablet? Is it a PHABLET? You decide.

The most amazing thing I saw today was LG's curved OLED displays. Both Samsung and LG boasted "the world's first curved OLED" in their booths:

LGOLEDdisplays.jpgThis is a picture of LG's - which were stunning to say the least. For their part, Samsung said their units "provide an IMAX feel." Immersive telepresence is an obvious, immediate use-case for these systems when they are available - supposedly mid-year this year.

Changing gears, we'll have to stop thinking of our cars when we hear the terms convertible and hybrid. These are the words we will use to describe the next generation PCs.

next generation PCs.jpgWith the tag-line "a laptop when you need it, a tablet when you want it" multiple form factors were shown by Intel and other manufacturers.

There have been a number of keynote presentations already yesterday evening and today. If you haven't heard, Microsoft's CEO Steve Balmer (just one year after deciding to give up speaking and exhibiting at at CES) made a cameo appearance during Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs' keynote address. Ballmer spoke about Microsoft's new Windows RT and Windows 8 Phone products. He called them "stunning" additions to Microsoft's line-up. He also showed off two of the newest Windows RT devices, the Samsung ATIV and Dell XPS. Both are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors.

Today CEA president Gary Shapiro kicked-off the keynotes by reporting that over 20,000 new products would launched or announced at this year's show, which will have a record 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space. Later in the day Verizon's CEO Lowell McAdam took time to talk about the future of mobile wireless technology and the wider tech industry. Some of his key points were that "Cloud computing is the third wave of the digital revolution." Also, he said that over half of all mobile traffic this year will be video.

Pre Show Day 2

The day just before the International CES opens is just a zoo. There is really no other way to describe it. Picture the worst day you've ever had at a theme park, with lines - no, hoards of people waiting to get into the things you came to see. That's CES Press Day. On the positive side we were at a larger venue this year (Mandalay Bay Convention Center) and the WiFi service was beyond excellent.� But that's where the good logistics end. There are still too many lines, too few seats, all-in-all a very low tech day for a very high tech industry.

But it is where a lot of the new news breaks, and this year was no exception. Here were some of the news bits I tweeted earlier:

  • Panasonic joins the LG led Smart TV Alliance, but still hangs on to 16 models of plasma display alongside 16 new LCD versions - and with no UHD (4K) displays they get left well behind. Their new "My Home Screen" central control system uses the front mounted videoconferencing camera to identify the user and show his or her personalized content and control layout. With a pen for annotation and "shopping by remote" they concentrated more on features than resolution.

    panasonic.jpg

  • LG plans to launch its signature OLED TV in the US in March for $12,000

    oledtv.jpg

  • Sharp, in this year's first "these amps go to 11" moment, mentions they are working on 8K displays - twice as good as 4K displays (which themselves have little or no native content today.) What will the industry call that - "Super, Ultra HD"?
  • Both Sony and VOXX International (and I'm sure other firms) showed types of Near Field Communications systems for wireless transmission of audio and video with no pairing needed - just a touch.
  • Sony will launch a native 4K program distribution system this year with content from Sony Pictures and other studios

    sony.jpg

  • Netgear's CEO Patrick Lo said he believes that this year every single electrical device in the home will be able to be connected to the internet.
  • Huawei introduced the Ascend Mate smartphone with a colossal 6.1" screen further blurring the lines between smartphones and tablets and helping coin the new colloquial term "Phablet."

    ascendmate.jpg

  • Cisco introduced their new Videoscape Unity system at their press conference, with much of the credit going to their NDS acquisition. When you look at the details here, it sure sounds a heck of a lot like what John Chambers introduced two years ago - then dropped like a bad Flip - see my CES review from 2011 here for a reminder...

Videoscape Unity system.jpg

Pre Show Day 1

I'm in Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics show or "International CES" as the people from the CEA who run it prefer that it be called. Dropping the emphasis on individual consumers makes perfect sense, as the consumerization trends in large enterprises continue to blur the line between what is a consumer technology vs. a professional or enterprise one.

The exhibit floor doesn't open till Tuesday, but industry press and analysts such as myself are already in full show mode - attending press conferences, getting glimpses of new technology at private "behind the scenes" events, and comparing notes with each other. There are already some significant stories and trends emerging. At the CEA's State of the Industry Presentation we learned what CEA's Shaun DuBravac thought would be the big themes:

  1. We are definitely in the "post Smartphone Era" as mobile connectivity is becoming less about telephones. These devices aren't phones anymore, they're hubs for all our peripheral services. Think about how many things we used to buy as hardware are now just apps (Cameras, GPSs, etc.) Think about how many new hardware products are being introduced that no longer need controls or status displays (moisture sensors, health monitors, tracking devices, etc.) Our smart devices have become our control hubs and viewfinders for all technology we interact with.
  2. We are also in the age of algorithms. Our devices are connected to "sensors," and are being supplied with intelligent algorithms to not only report what is happening to us (read the news, deliver an email, etc.) but to understand what that data means. They can provide recommendations, perform optimization, allow for self-driving cars, provide medical advice, etc.
  3. The above now allows what is being called Contextual Connectivity. A "smart" device no longer just means that it is connected to the internet and services. It now means that the device can act appropriately based on the data it receives. Instead of getting an alarm that there is water in the basement, a smart monitor can now turn the main pump on, turn a secondary pump on if needed, and then report it's actions for follow-up. A wireless headset no longer just sends and receives audio, it reports where you are, if you're wearing it, what room you're in, who you want to be able to reach you, etc. Smart devices are now ones that can act appropriately based on context
  4. We're experiencing the Changing flow of Storytelling. It's no longer just an email or video chat while we watch events on TV. The new concept of the "Second Screen" is showing that we have become content omnivores - we expect and manage simultaneous feeds of data on multiple screens - playing games, watching programming, monitoring smart devices, absorbing related information, etc. - all simultaneously. Manufacturers and programmers have realized the offerings in this area can be made far richer than what has been available in the past.`
  5. Form factors are changing dramatically. With smaller tablets and bigger smartphones no one really knows where one ends and the other begins. PC's are no longer just clamshell knockoffs - they can be tablets with or without keyboards. The blend and blur is a virtual hardware mashup where the differences have become less obvious. The terms "convertible" and "hybrid" are now not just for our cars but for our shape-shifting PCs and tablets with multiple forms, uses & interfaces. A good example of this already shown at the CES Unveiled event is Lenovo's new "Interpersonal Computer"

Lenovocomputer.jpgIt's a tablet that can work on your desk but can be lifted-up and brought to your living room so four people can play a game together.

As one looks at the economic performance of consumer technology, it is frightening to see that Smartphones and Tablets are the only sector still experiencing any growth. All other devices and technologies are showing a significant decline in sales and interest. It really has become an "appy" world.

About the Author

DavidDanto.jpgDavid J. Danto
Principal Consultant, Collaboration / Multimedia / Video / AV at Dimension Data
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance

Find David on Twitter, LinkedIn, Website


David Danto has nearly 35 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds. This includes:

  • The building and managing of the world's largest commercial Cisco TelePresence ecosystem (other than within Cisco) for JP Morgan Chase.
  • The design, implementation and operation of global video and audio conferencing facilities, television and audio/visual facilities and digital signage solutions for Lehman Brothers.
  • The design of television and radio facilities for Bloomberg, including the development of their revolutionary multi-screen TV format and the design and construction of studios for The Charlie Rose Show.
  • The development of the Television and Media Services department for NYU, including the design and implementation of America's first urban, self contained, multi-building university cable TV system using microwave links to cross public rights of way.
  • The design and management of multimedia and/or TV broadcast facilities for many organizations, including AT&T, Financial News Network, MTV, NBC, Rutgers University, and many others. He has also acted as Engineer in Charge for countless commercial and industrial television productions.






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