CES 2015 Day 1

CES 2015 Day 1 Keynotes and Highlights

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Intertwined Automotive Experiences, James Bond Wearables and more and more 4K HDTVs

All conferences open with a keynote presentation or 2, and CES 2015 is no different. The interesting thing about today’s opening presentations is that 2 of them were by automotive executives from Ford Motor Company and General Motors (and yesterday, Daimler-Benz spoke.) So why is “Big Auto” keynoting one of the world’s largest electronics conference? The word that Ford CEO Mark Fields uses is “intertwined” – the technology is fully intertwined with the entire “automotive experience.” In-vehicle technologies have moved well beyond navigation, maintenance, emergency services and entertainment.  Today’s cars offer features such as driver-assist sensor-based parking and lane monitoring technologies. The hot automotive topic this year is the autonomous car – with multiple automotive manufactures speaking about the self-driving (fully autonomous) and auto-parking car. Other systems being demonstrated are in-car safety and security. Ford’s Marks says that their job is to move these technologies from high-end vehicles to all cars. “In keeping with the history of Ford, we need to make sure our technology is democratized,” said Marks.

In a more traditional CES vein, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich covered a number of technology topics. His opening comment was designed to shake things up a bit. He claimed “1995 was the last big moment in technology” and that “2015 will be another turning point.” There’s probably all sorts of folks that think we’ve had some turning points between 1995 and now, but he’s the speaker! He stated that this year’s turning point is being shaped by 3 forces: computers unleased (big focus on Intel’s RealSense technology), intelligence everywhere and wearables. Krzanich mentioned a wide number of expanding uses of sensor-based intelligent systems including the intelligent home, robots and drones (used for a lot more that what Amazon talks about!). In the wearables area, he announced a new platform, called Curie, which is meant to be used in new form factors such as rings, pendants and buttons. He claimed that Curie “changes the game in wearables.” Curie is a small module the size of a button with a Quark SOC, Bluetooth, sensors and runs on a coin-sized battery. James Bond gadgets here we come!

In another somewhat unusual keynote, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai not only highlighted new and updated products (4K TV, Playstation, 4K Handycam) but also made his 1st public comment on the Sony Pictures hacker attack, praising Sony employees and partners in how they handled the criminal effort and worked to make “The Interview” available.

Major Announcements

With so many announcements made throughout CES, it’s impossible to pick the most important or those that will have a major impact.  Choosing depends on which part of the industry you are interested in.  But, in an effort to provide some insight into what is trending at CES, here are a few of my picks.

  • 4K TVs and cameras seem to be gaining momentum – examples are Samsung (showing a 4K 105-inch set!) and Sony’s 4K Action Cam.  Sharp announced an Ultra 8K TV (with 42 million pixels!).  Please, can we make 4K useful before we move on to the next level!!!
  • As a side note, all sorts of folks are announcing “bendable” technology – perhaps in response to the Apple iPhone 6 “BendGate.”  Samsung’s 4K TV mentioned above bends on command and LG demonstrated its next generation bendable smartphone (LG G Flex 2). I’m not sure if this is truly a big deal, but if it enhances the endurance of our gizmos, I’m all for it.
  • All of the automotive electronics stuff – it’s truly amazing and will change a lot of things, including car ownership!
  • For those wanting to “cut the cable,” check out the Dish Network announcement of their Sling TV. It looks like cable channels are starting to be unbundled. This could be a game changer.

Lots more to be covered on Day 2.