David J. Danto
AV, Collaboration, IoT, Technology, UC and Video Industry Consultant and Analyst
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance
A View From The Road Volume 14, Number 1
CES 2020 – Seeing Things Clearly Now
In This Edition:
· Link to the Full Webcast
· A Framework for AI
· Plunging Prices and Commonplace Available of Wireless Earbuds
· Other Key Points From The Event
The always crowded and bustling CES Expo & Conference had nearly 200K attendees this year
Greetings from Las Vegas where CES 2020 has just concluded. As the new decade began, CES presented us with interesting ideas as opposed to breakthrough products, continuing the trend of concepts over devices I’ve reported on for the last few years.
I never try to compete with the likes of CNET or Engaget or the other tech media when it comes to covering the big stories / already widely-touted news from CES. I attend to try to find the things people would never know about unless they attended the show themselves.
CLick the photo to watch my Connected! webcast from CES 2020.
My AVNationTV webcast provides that experience – running a whopping one hour and twelve minutes this year. I highly recommend taking a look at all the little gems I was able to highlight. Because the video is so long and comprehensive, I’ll keep this blog brief – only hitting a couple of the highlights of this year’s themes.
I was very impressed with LG’s press conference this year, as they introduced a framework for AI as it becomes increasingly important in our devices and lives.
LG proposes a four level “Framework for AI” that the technology industry can follow for consistency.
(Be sure to watch my webcast for more of an explanation on this framework and some video examples of the levels.) AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) were amongst the key themes this year, with CTA’s Vice President of research Steve Koenig postulating that IoT will no longer stand for the Internet of Things, but will rather morph to meaning the Intelligence of Things. It is clear that we all will be moving from just interacting with our devices, onto our devices interacting with each other and developing an intelligent mesh that will improve our experiences. The next generation of wireless communications (5G) was also widely touted at the conference this year, but it was a lot more hype than substance – a point called out by my friend Josh Srago in his recent article. In any case, AI and 5G won the CES 2020 buzzword bingo awards this year.
Ten or fifteen years ago the commonplace product at CES was LEDs that blinked on your mobile phone antenna as you spoke on your call. Five years ago the antenna were gone and the commonplace product at CES was mobile phone cases. This year, the clear winner was true wireless earbuds. One couldn’t walk twenty feet without running into some new company making their own version of these.
True Wireless Earbuds were everywhere.
With the mobile phone manufacturers mostly eliminating the headphone jack on their devices, and with Apple producing their very expensive version of this product class, many manufacturers have identified a market opportunity. The prices being discussed for these systems begin at around $30-$40. What that means for consumers is that within eighteen months, these devices will be commonplace, inexpensive and will exhibit diminishing quality. It’ll surely be a race to the bottom, as you grab a pair of earbuds with your gum and breath-mints at the grocery store check-out counter. Anyone wasting money on the expensive Apple Airpods today and not waiting for this revolution to bubble-up is insane.
This trend does have at least one positive aspect. Firms like Phonak and Eargo are making the next generation of hearing-aids at earbud prices, driving the price of this essential tool for the hearing impaired down (from highs of ~6K to more like a few hundred bucks) and removing the stigma from wearing devices that at worst now look like the earbuds everybody else will be wearing. Bravo for this long needed disruption.
My final point about CES in this blog is that the trend from real products to concepts means that there are a lot of useless things shown at the conference, and more and more sneak-in every year. Without the need to go for funding from a bank or VC firm, and without the need of even producing a working product, ridiculous products that waste both attendees time and expo floor space manage to get in to the conference. Two examples from both ends of the spectrum are a “Smart Potato” and a Mercedes-Benz Avatar Themed Car.
The Smart Potato and the Avatar Car - Opposite ends of the same problem.
One exhibitor – likely as fed-up as I am with the hype of products that are not real and are time wasters —actually stuck an antenna into a potato, listed it on IndieGoGo, and purchased a Eureka Park booth to show it off. The fact that it did nothing and was ridiculous didn’t stop the team selling booth space from giving him a spot. (Read all about this here.) On the opposite end of the same spectrum, Mercedes-Benz had a booth the size of a baseball practice field – so large in fact that it actually had a fully functioning kitchen built into it behind the scenes to support the staff working there. They used it to show a smaller than scale vehicle that was themed around the movie Avatar. Far bigger and slicker than the Smart Potato, but no more useful to the attendees. These ridiculous non-products just add to the time and size of CES, but don’t do anything to further the industry or foretell the future. They just increase the floor space and the sales quotas of the team selling it.
That’s it for this edition of A View From The Road. The next one will be after Enterprise Connect in late March – early April, but do join us in New York end of February for Collaboration Week New York – the second-annual, free, not-to-be-missed event in the collaboration space!
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely their own, personal opinions.
David has had over three decades of experience delivering successful business outcomes in media and collaboration technology for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds - including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He is now a consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV industries. He is also honored to serve as IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology, as the editor of Sound and Communication’s IT/AV Report, and as Poly’s Director of UC Strategy and Research.. David can be reached at DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info.
All images and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.