CE Week 2019 – the future of consumer electronics

CE Week 2019
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CE Week 2019 is an annual talkfest about CE (Consumer Electronics) products and where the industry is heading.

CE Week 2019 focused on connectivity and the inevitable, if a long way off, impact that 5G could have to smart toilets and devices.

Keynote: The promise of 5G – that is all it is at present

The promise of 5G is real-time, lag-free communications allowing people to work anywhere and do anything – at least until 6G comes along and rains on that parade.

In a retail sense, it could replace shop assistants. Walk in and via your Bolle/Nike/Chanel AR smart glasses, you can get real-time product information and even see how it looks on you or at home. Like it – simply by not putting it back on the shelf, it is yours – payment made without having to swipe.

But there is a clear disconnect between the Telco marketing creating unreal consumer expectations and the fact that this will not likely start appearing until the mid-2020s! Let’s not even go down the privacy rabbit hole. Well let’s – just a bit.  

Online Privacy is an oxymoron (two words together that contradict each other). The EU’s GDPR is a great base privacy model, but frankly, it is not in the interests of giant tech like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple or Microsoft to get behind a universal digital bill of rights.

CE Week 2019 privacy

5G means always connected. But the ability to do so much more means more data collected. Before we let the 5G genie out of the bottle, we need to solve the privacy issues so we can use it without fear of big brother.

Some CE 2019 highlights

Audea introduces the Swiss army knife of smart speakers (Brochure here).

The world’s first voice-controlled intelligent speaker that runs music apps without a smartphone. It plays Spotify, Apple Music Apps, DLNA, Wi-FI sources, and supports Google Assistant, AirPlay/Siri and Chromecast in multiple Rooms. Plays HD quality with a 10-band EQ Music and 24-bit/96kHz DAC. It is based on an Android 9 tablet and has expandable add-on Hi-Fi speakers.

CE Week 2019

Can’t say I like the prototype design but the Swiss army knife s concept has legs.

Connected home

  • Artnovion – custom acoustical treatments for high-performance products;
  • Audio Control – audio tools and products for people who love amazing sound;
  • Acoustics Innovation – the science of acoustics and art of aesthetics to create high-performance media environments;
  • Control4 – Smart Home OS 3 unifies hundreds of connected devices within the home, controls them all from a single platform and delivers personalisation;
  • Fatboy – lamps, beanbags, poufs, carpets and hammocks products;
  • Graff Shower System Ametis Ring – includes dual-function shower head outfitted with six-colour LED indirect chromotherapy lighting;
  • HearthCabinet – ventless fireplace system with patented alcohol gel fuel cartridge system and lockable safety screen;  
  • Kohler – Veil a one-piece toilet featuring a heated seat, night-light, hands-free opening/closing and automatic flush, touchscreen remote;
  • MSE Audio – the parent company of six major manufacturing brands producing quality speakers with exceptional sound;
  • Origin Acoustics – custom built performance products for great sound;  
  • Reflectel – Reflectel Mirror TV isn’t simply a television or mirror but functional decor that complements the design of any room;
  • Restrepo Innovations – custom integration and home automation company;
  • SKS Signature by LG – built-in appliances for innovation and purposeful design in the kitchen;
  • Sony – Master Series XBR85X950G 4K LED TV.
CE Week 2019

Comments on 8K TV

It seems 8K may roll out far faster than 4K TV – simply because it’s just as easy to make and has similar cost structures that will benefit from increased volumes.

It seems in the US that about half of the households own recent 4K TVs and the other half are ripe for upgrades.

What we are yet to see is the new TV sound standards like  22.2 (22 speakers and two subs) that are likely to be standard for Hi-Vision transmission. Think of it as 5.1 plus five listener-plane channels, nine overhead channels, arranged in a square, and a row of three further channels at the bottom front, plus the additional sub-woofer channel.

Because 8K has double the 4K resolution, it augers well for huge screens as well as better close up viewing (put a larger screen into a smaller space).

CE Week 2019 22.2

And it’s not about 8K native content. Its that processor technology has now advanced enough to upscale 1K and 4K content adding clarity and crispness to 8K simulated images. The processors add Intelligence and deep learning to enable an 8K set to automatically optimise its video and audio performance based on the ambient conditions.

When will we see 8K en-mass? TV makers will start rolling out more reasonable priced consumer sized TVs in their 2020 line-ups, and 4K is expected to fall by the wayside by the end of 2021. Native 8K content may take a lot longer.

The Five Levels of a Smart Home

Discussion centred on the five levels of smart homes and how we have not yet reached level one, let alone the nirvana of a totally integrated smart home – even if you throw heaps of money at it.

At best, we have a growing range of smart products, but these do not make a smart home. What we are missing it the ‘smart’ side of things. These products use disparate apps and separate accounts/logins for full functionality, and at best, a voice assistant ties some together.

CE Week 2019 smarthome

So far, no company has invented a fully autonomous, universal smart home operating system that allows all devices to join together and think for us. To get there, it needs interoperability standards and lots of data collection. And Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are just short-term fixes that don’t really provide whole of home/grounds coverage.

The message was – don’t kid yourself. Any smart home device you buy today will not be part of a smart home of the future (except perhaps OK Google).

GadgetGuy’s take: We agree and it’s important to recognise both what the device can do now and its limitations.