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CES Vegas 2014: Rolling Coverage

January 8, 2014 | Telepresence Options

Danto CES

Story and images by David Danto

Telepresence Options is partnering with guest author, David Danto, to bring you the best from this year's CES show. We will continue to update this thread throughout the event, as David sends us updates and tweets from the show.

General Thoughts and Predictions
Pre-Show Day One
Pre-Show Day Two
CES Day 1
CES Continuing

General Thoughts and Predictions

This is the microsite I used for end of day notes from the 2014 International CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show.)� Most of the information below will be from tweets I send earlier in the day.� If my comments are interesting or helpful to you feel free to follow me (twitter.com/NJDavidD) to get them in real-time.�

Even before I left for Las Vegas, CES hot topics were clearly emerging in the buzz hitting my email accounts:

  • Ultra HD Television Displays (UHD-TV) was big news.� Not only the large, bright, 4K and in some cases curved displays, but in the fight to get native 4K content to them.� Broadcasters and Cable MSOs will not win that race.� 4K content will first be delivered by the web.� See the announcement from Google's You Tube pushing their VP9 codec (instead of H.264 / H.265.)� There will also be a number of other "Set-Top-Boxes" showing native 4K content delivery over the internet.� As for the displays themselves they will be bigger, brighter and with more "Smart-TV" features.
  • I'm hearing that new video robotics company Revolve will be reenacting the videoconference scene from the 1990's movie Demolition Man with their new KUBI pan/tilt device for generic tablets.� That will be an interesting thing to see.
  • My email box and Twitter account is flooded with notes that Audi and other car manufacturers will be showing "ground-breaking innovations" this year.� For an industry who's biggest recent innovation has been as a bluetooth device for your smartphone I'm frankly not expecting much.� In order to meet the level of importance of the hype the cars would have to fly and simultaneously give pedicures.� In reality all I'm expecting is the beginning of the "early adopters" stage of self-driving car features and vehicles with more sustainable technology.
  • There will be much discussion about the "internet of everything" or "Internet of things," with many exhibitors showing systems and devices that are aware of their surroundings and able to analyze them (with full access to all the information on the net) and act on that information without user intervention.� Cisco CEO John Chambers will be giving a keynote presentation that discusses this, and many exhibitors will be showing early stage products that fit this category - like thermostats that gauge the weather and cars that drive and/or park themselves.

Beyond the major themes, as always, I'll be looking for the news that doesn't get a lot of coverage.� This includes promising new products such as crystal-clear music speakers made from acrylic panes; some brand-new interactive whiteboards that may finally be more intuitive to use, and who knows what else.� This of course will be in addition to mountains of bluetooth speakers, newfangled headphones, smartphone cases, and things that beep or light-up in the night.�

Look for the next update to this page Sunday night...

Pre-Show Day One

Sunday is the first pre-show day for CES. My first stop of the morning was a visit with the team from Plantronics. They showed me some exciting prototype devices they expect to be launching a bit later this year, and they gave me a demonstration of their "Wearable Concept 1" headset. This device has remarkable sensors that can track a person's head movements so that data can be ported into mapping and virtual software. There is a formal video of it in action here. But I prefer my crude iPhone version here. One of the most interesting things it can detect is if the person has fallen down and/or stopped moving. That immediately made me think of the possibilities of the first "On-Star" for people instead of cars.

With their headset development, music systems and gaming accessories expect a lot more from Plantronics this year and going forward.

After a quick bite for lunch ($22 for two hot dogs and a bottle of water - way to go on those up-charges Mandalay Bay) I settled in to listen to CES' analysts describe the state of consumer technology.

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First CEA's Shawn DuBravac gave those gathered his view of the key trends in technology - they can all be found in the in his presentation here, but at a high level he the key trends for him are:

  • Mass Customization� - how we can all get "customized" products from mass-production systems
  • Multidimensional Screen Expansion� - not just bigger but more choices in size, color, form factor and use cases
  • Age of Autonomy - with devices and their internal sensors evolving to act independently on the data they collect
  • Curation & Context - the convergence of services and systems

One interesting point that he made during a discussion about security was that our rich technology life has virtually thrown us back in time to the level of privacy that existed hundreds of years ago.� People lived in small towns and villages and everybody knew everything about their neighbors.� Now, with our reliance on the net, and the clear accessibility of all our data we are returning to a society where we will have no secrets from our neighbors (and our governments.)�

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The next speaker was CEA's Steve Koenig who presented some very interesting numbers about global consumption of technology.� Amongst the data points he highlighted were:

  • The global market for technology sales is likely to shrink by 1% in 2014.
  • Half of expected 2014 spending will be from "emerging markets," up from 40% in 2010
  • Tablets and smartphones alone account for 43% of global technology spending

Steve's entire presentation can be found here.

With the analysis completed everyone gathered moved on to the CES Unveiled event - the Opening press party and showcase.� I'll spend more time over the course of the next few days sharing pictures and descriptions of the items that were on display there - I want to wait till I get the opportunity to see in everything in less of a madhouse environment, but I will say I'm especially eager to hear the new clear plexi speakers from http://www.clearviewaudio.com/ and trying out Invoxia's new NVX-220 - even smaller BYOD based IP Phone.

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I'll have more to report at the end of Monday, when most of the major press conferences are completed.

Remember, you can get most of this information from me in real time if you follow me on Twitter; twitter.com/@NJDavidD

Pre-Show Day Two

Monday is the Patience Marathon, Line Standing Olympics and BS Filtering long day otherwise known as CES press day.� Many major firms use this day to tell their story.� And the stories were flying this year.

Ultra High Definition Television Displays (or UHD or 4K) is clearly one of the products of this show.� Whether it was Samsung's bendable display - with sides that can curve into the viewer, or Sharp's Q+ system that is less expensive than a UHD model but better than any other HD model - everybody was touting their new hardware.� But it wasn't just about hardware.� Standard TV program delivery methods (cable companies, broadcasters) can't handle content in 4k and won't be able to for a long while.� The first real 4K content to the home will be coming from the internet.� This has created quite the stir amongst streaming content providers and set-top-box manufacturers.� Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings made a personal appearance at both LG's and Sony's press conference to specifically announce that their original production House Of Cards will be available to smart TVs and delivered in 4K.

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Dish, Roku and others also made similar announcements.�

As for controlling these new displays and their embedded apps, every single manufacturer today said a version of: "Our devices have the best, simplest smart controls on the market."� They can't all be correct, so your mileage may vary...

The bizarre moment of the day (and likely of this entire CES) was when Transformers Director Michael Bay imploded on stage at Samsung's press conference when his teleprompter stopped working.� Now widely circulated in social media, the entire clip along with a non-apology apology is available from CNET.

There were hundreds of new, cool products on display at CES Preview events on this day - way too many to cover in my notes (to get all of them in real time remember to follow me on Twitter - @NJDavidD.� Here are some highlights:

��������� Honeywell introduced a new smart thermostat that you can talk to

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If you're sitting on your sofa and you feel a bit warm, you just say "Hello Thermostat" and it replies.� You can tell it to do anything using voice commands.

��������� Samsung showed a "bendable" large format display screen at their press conference today that can actually curve toward you upon request, making it more immersive.

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I'll be in Samsung's booth tomorrow and will try to get a picture that shows this better.

��������� And today's winner for retro device of the show goes to "The Brick"

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It is a global ready cellular phone that also serves as a landline phone and Bluetooth device.� Everybody seems to want one.

Now that the press previews and conferences are out of the way the actual exposition floor opens Tuesday.� I'll be tweeting everything interesting that I see, and will also be attending Cisco CEO John Chambers' keynote in the afternoon.�

Here's a webpage that shows my recent tweets:� http://danto.info/CES_2014_tweets.htm

CES Day One:

The 2014 International CES officially opened today, and what a day it was.�

It started with a Sony keynote where it was announced that they will have a streaming game service for the PS4 this year (which actually caused game store stocks to drop on the news.) ��Sony also announced they will launch their own UHD to the home programming service, but repeat CES attendees will remember they announced that last year as well and we haven't seen it yet.� Sony also announced that they have sold 4.2 Million PS4s since the launch - a staggeringly huge number in a short period which should be concerning to the Microsoft X-Box team.

There was a lot of interest in prototype vehicles at the show's first day.� For one example, huge crowds gathered to see Toyota's prototype one person electric car.

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It won't be a finished product for years, if at all - but no one will remember if it fails.

It was definitely an opportunity to see a lot of new or improved products - like Casio's improved virtual presenter - at half the size and offered with a custom content service.

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Or the much discussed contact-lens (or glasses based) heads-up display prototype from Innovega:

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But the two big stories out of today were about curves.

First of all, with curved HD screens and a new curved audio speaker, it is clear that "Curved is the new Flat" is this year's Mantra.

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The other curve was from Cisco's John Chambers at his keynote presentation - when he didn't speak about a lot of technology as in years past.� Rather, he spoke about the curve all our lives are about to take.

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It was interesting watching him speak and present. Rather than being a technology pitchman he presented himself as an excited "smart future" evangelist. �He described for example how smart streetlights can prevent crime and how smart garbage cans can save 30% of the costs of trash removal.�

He clearly seemed energized as a person with the proverbial light bulb over his head, encouraging the audience to see the same vision he does. ��

He also made the bold statement that all of this smart connectivity will begin to converge in this year - 2014. �

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From joking with comedienne Sarah Silverman (when she delivered lines like "I don't want to Michael Bay this thing" and "You've got balls Chambers") to chatting with the deputy mayor of Barcelona who explained how they are succeeding in being a "Smart City", Mr. Chambers was very successful in getting the audience to see his vision.�

Tomorrow I'll go into some of the smaller booths and suites to continue to check out new products.� Hopefully you're following me on Twitter or reading the twitter feed site I slapped together (http://danto.info/CES_2014_tweets.htm ) to keep up with all the product announcements.� There's lots more information there right now.

CES Continuing:

With CES well underway all that there is left to do is visit as many of the exhibitors as one can to learn as much as possible.� Unfortunately it's a bit like the parable of the three blind men and the elephant - no two people who attend will see exactly the same things in the same way (other than everyone apparently agreeing about the Michael Bay big fail.)�

At a high level, what I'm seeing is the following:

  • Curved is the new Flat - I mentioned that yesterday but I still like it.� Remember how tube TVs were considered gauche when the plasma (then LCD) flat displays came out?� That's how I believe flat displays will soon be seen when curved displays begin their trek up the adoption curve.� Despite what you may have read elsewhere, the curved displays I spent time examining looked outstanding - even from the most extreme angle - where the curve actually helps the image look better.� I predict this will be the bandwagon that everybody jumps on next year.
  • As for this year's bandwagon, can you say Smart Watch?� You can't spit on the exhibit floor without hitting some unknown company's smart watch and/or wearable sensor device.� Remember a little while after the iPod's release how hundreds of exhibitors had their own knock-off MP3 / media players in all colors shapes and sizes?� That's what the wearable device has turned-into at this year's show.� No real value in any of them was able to escape the noise level that's been created.� How good will you feel about your new Pebble, FitBit or Galaxy when the kid down the street from you just bought something very much like it at the 99 cents store?� I think the best advice here is to wait for the pendulum to swing back a little again before anyone thinks seriously about purchasing any of these.
  • Worries about "unplugging" have given way to worries about broadcasters and cable-TV MSOs.� A few years ago the concern was masses of people would stop buying / watching big, room type TVs and instead view their content on PCs and tablets.� At this year's CES that sentiment has changed.� No one is openly saying it, but that fear has given way to the opinion that people will still buy their TVs but the content on them will come from the web (using a set-top box or embedded smart application.)� Do you still think Amazon Prime video or Netflix is a bad idea?� No one else does either. �If I were a broadcaster or MSO, this development and the continued legal successes of Aereo would probably be making me very nervous just about now.� Get ready for one of those Black Swans.
  • I had a great chat with Jurgen Kurz - CEO of Nero - about Consumerization and how his firm is reacting to it.� They still make a fabulous suite of multimedia tools and will continue to, but he doesn't see this as his firm's best opportunity going forward.� He and I agreed that the lines between consumers, SMBs and Enterprise users are getting blurrier all the time.� His firm's new, flagship product, Nero BackItUp is a combination software product and service, meant to enable powerful back-ups of all kinds of digital files.� What makes Nero unique in this space is that users can perform these tasks any way they want from any device they want.� Want to use unlimited cloud storage? That is available. �Want to do all your back-ups to a local NAS or server? That's supported too.� And if you want some combination (back up some files to NAS...others to cloud...back up your NAS to the cloud...retrieve a PC or Mac file from your smartphone...back up your tablet or phablet files and view them on each other or on your PCs - all that is available in any combination.� It is certainly a different direction for Nero, but one with flexibility and low costs.� I believe that it will be embraced by individual end-users in such a strong way that it will likely follow a path through SMBs and onto into other, larger enterprises.� Why pay tons more for inflexible options?� Another Black swan?

Then, of course, there are the devices.� So far (just today) I've seen a great new pico projector from Elmo, some unique and interesting magnetic utility lights from Striker Tools, a new entry into the Interactive Whiteboard Space (and a 4K one no less) from Westinghouse Digital, and much, much more.� I'm not going to include these in my daily notes here.� I will have a "best of list" in my show wrap-up / A View From The Road for the IMCCA (over the weekend.)� However, the only way to see everything that I think is worth mentioning is to follow me on Twitter or read the twitter feed site I slapped together (http://danto.info/CES_2014_tweets.htm.)�

This will be the last update to my CES daily notes.� Look for the wrap-up shortly on the IMCCA Home Page.� Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about any of my observations or anything else.







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