The Consumer Electronics Show is a huge gathering of vendors hawking all manner of products, from small electronic connectors to large SUVs. This was my third such visit and, when it comes to new technology announcements, perhaps the least rewarding. However, there were a few things that caught my attention.
First, wireless and mobility is in. From the connected car, home, extended batteries and all manner of handheld devices, it is clear that the demand to access anything from anywhere at any time using any device is being met.
Second, we love big TVs. The crowds viewing and taking pictures of the new 4K TVs made it difficult to get through areas of the Samsung, Sony and Panasonic exhibits. Vendors hope that this interest turns into profits after the failure of 3D and OLED to garner major adoption rates. Personally, I found the 4K TVs to be quite arresting with their sharpness and clarity, but the price will need to drop further before I toss my perfectly fine 50-inch plasma. The TV I’ll actually wait for, however, is the 4K curved TV. The picture is amazing and offers a hint of 3D depth without the glasses.
Third, 3D printing may indeed be the technological innovation that changes product prototyping and manufacturing for the next 25 years. When considering the process of creation, the items and devices I saw during the show were amazing. The technology has moved very swiftly from conceptual to production. The printing process needs to be faster, materials even more varied and the machines larger and less expensive, but that is the reality of nearly every new electronic innovation. If Moore’s law applies to this technology, then the future for 3D printing is unlimited.
Finally, it was in the North Hall that I heard expressed one of my recurring thoughts. Why is everything so “i” focused? There were a large number of vendors that released products only for Apple products. As I was leaving a vendor that made very beautiful wooden cases for iPhones only, I heard a couple behind me discussing the absence of such a case for Android devices. The vendor indicated they would be available in 2Q14. Apple is properly credited with creating a truly transformative device – the smartphone – and it is easy to address 38% of the installed base over basically three to four form factors. However, although the variety of Android devices is quite varied without similar form factors, an Apple-only strategy alienates 60% of the smartphone users, including yours truly.
After what I’ve seen this week, here’s what I’m seeing in the next 25 years – driverless cars using kinetic energy or water as fuel; 3D printing of human organs, body parts and cells; hands-free surgery removing geographical boundaries; wearable technology with voice recognition, screen projection and wireless audio connectivity; and electronic voting in the US.