Last Year’s Preview Products Are Now Ready For Prime Time
Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show provides the perfect stage for announcing new, exciting consumer products expected to be available during the year. This year’s record 170,000 attendees were not disappointed with plenty of technology to wow them from over 3800 vendors. Concepts introduced at CES 2015 have turned into this year’s products with plenty of announcements covering drones, wearables, robots, televisions and connected cars. But there did seem to be something missing this year – much of the mobile technology sector (smartphones, wireless technology, carriers) is shifting its big announcement to the Mobile World Congress event (Feb 22-25 in Barcelona, watch for our posts).
4K and UHD Blu-ray Make a Splash
Televisions have been a CES staple for years. It wasn’t long ago when HD technology (1080p, 1920 x 1080) was all the rage at CES. Once everyone had HD TVs and Blu-ray DVD players, the focus shifted to other ideas, including 3D and UHD (4K TV). While 4K TVs have been the source of some very flashy demonstrations at recent CES shows, the lack of content and the fact that your current Blu-ray DVD player doesn’t support 4K has held consumers at bay.
At CES 2016 we saw new 4K TVs introduced by Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony. More importantly, Samsung unveiled their new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players with availability later this year, priced at $499 ($399 if you pre-order). Panasonic and Philips have also tossed their hats into the Ultra HD Blu-ray game, also with availability later this year.
Of equal importance, 4K content is starting to become available. Streaming content is becoming available (albeit limited titles) from Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Vudu (with others to surely follow). Move studios such as Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and Warner are starting to make titles available (Disney, Universal and Paramount haven’t shared their 4K plans). Network, cable and satellite TV are all working on 4K solutions. Content is coming!
Prediction – 4K entertainment center technology will be under a lot more Christmas trees this year!
Duck – Drones are Everywhere
Like last year, drones had a big chunk of expo space to strut their stuff. While the drones themselves haven’t changed much (with a notable exception), the technology is getting better. For example, more of the products use GPS to track things and more technology (e.g. sonar or infrared sensors) to avoid things like trees, buildings, cars and (of course) people. Some drones now have ground-focused sensors that allow them to fly indoors when GPS typically can’t be used. Some designs now include a “return to home” feature that is triggered when a battery runs low or the control connection is lost.
Now, for the notable exception. With the announcement of the Ehang 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) we now have moved to the world of George Jetson. The AAV is a single-passenger drone that transports people at 11,000 feet. Its 142 horsepower electric motor can transport a single passenger weighing up to 264 pounds at 62 mph. The “drone” is controlled by a mobile app. After entering the destination, you only need 2 controls: take off and land.
It’s not clear if the 184 AAV will ever travel in U.S. airspace. Given the altitude at which it flies, the FAA will certainly have to certify the craft and the Department of Homeland Security may have a say in the matter.
Virtual Reality is Real
Similar to the other technologies mentioned, VR has been “previewed” and previous CES shows. This year, it looks like VR is ready for the 2016 Christmas tree also. The Oculus Rift is the market leader primarily because of the library of games available. AT CES 2016, the $599 price tag was announced. While a bit pricey (and you may have to purchase a high-end gaming PC to power the headset), the Rift delivers an outstanding experience. It is also clear the Facebook (which purchased Oculus VR in early 2014) has more plans for the headset – stay tuned.
The HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR also made a splash at CES 2016.
Of course there’s much, much more that we could write about. Wearable tech. 3D printing. Smart home. Robots. Smart cars (see our separate post on the connected car at CES 2016). Search for “CES 2016 wrap up” to learn more about the exciting products announced at CES 2016.