Sunday, January 13, 2019

A CES recap - and a slightly scary look into our future?

I just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and I have had a couple of days to process everything that I saw there. I also took my 21 year old daughter with me, so it was interesting to get her perspective as well.

Let me start by saying that I have always liked the CES show since I am a gadget guy at heart. I could do without the large crowds, endless lines, and being charged double prices for everything at Starbucks in the hotel, but I guess that is part of the experience.

This year, like most other years, the big electronics companies were showing off their bigger and higher resolution televisions. Just when people are getting familiar with 4K TVs, all the big companies were showing their upcoming 8K screens. And along with those new higher resolution sets, they were also showing off the OLED technology. The video above shows what I felt was the most impressive booth at the show, with LG proudly displaying this mass of OLED screens. Click on the video above to get the full experience.

Canon was not showing off any new DSLR or mirrorless cameras, but did have this Canon EOS R and Canon RF 28-70mm lens laser-cut in half. That was pretty cool to see.

What made this year slightly different for me was that I left that show without seeing one thing that I just had to have. In past years, I always came across at least one cool new piece of technology that had me drooling.

What I found most interesting about this year's show was the abundance of products being designed because the technology exists, not so much that we all need it. Let me explain that a little bit. We saw all types of appliances for the home which had integrated high-def screens and voice commands. We saw pet feeders which allow you to communicate and reward your pet from afar. There were wearable devices for just about everything, some interesting and some just ridiculous. But, as my friend Steve Wozniak says, "products should be designed because we need them, not just because they can be built."

Walking around the South Hall of the show, we came across this prototype of a flying car, and everyone was stopping to look at the vehicle and watch the company's video. It wasn't until we walked away that my daughter turned to me and said "Isn't that basically the helicopter that we already have today?" And she was exactly right.

I took my daughter into the North Hall so that she could see all the automobile exhibits. Amazingly, what used to be a large and loud hall full of car audio and car navigation systems was now a quiet hall full of technology for autonomous driving.

We saw lots and lots of autonomous vehicles that were more like pods than cars, and each of them promising the driverless experience with large screens surrounding the inside of the vehicle. As I looked into these, I thought "I guess people will spend even more time in front of screens in the future and never again look outside a car window." That scares me a bit.

All in all, the show was interesting, but left me wondering what percentage of these product concepts would hit the market and stick. I guess only time will tell.

Oh, and speaking of technology, I took all the photos and videos that you see here with the tiny little DJI Osmo Pocket. This is a pretty cool little toy that I will be taking with me to Africa tomorrow. As we walked back to our hotel on the last day of the show, I saw this reflection shot, raised the Osmo over the wall and grabbed this shot. Not too shabby for a tiny little thing.

If you were one of the 200,000 people at the CES show, I would love to know your thoughts about what you saw.

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