The Consumer Electronics Show is the annual event that sets the stage for the coming year's technology conversations. While the name indicates a focus on consumer electronics, there is a lot of big business mojo in play. Sure there are gadgets and "toys" for us to get excited about, but as many of the journalists attending the show this week indicated - it's just as much about the technologies that enable these gadgets.
To be hones, I've only been to CES once - about 7 years ago. It was an interesting experience for a professional who had previously attended large enterprise events in and around the high tech industry. I walked away thinking that every man i know should attend CES at least once. Now with the rise of the Internet of Things this is truer than ever. Whatever the interest - healthcare, finance, lifestyle, gaming, entertainment or sports, there is something there is always some "bright shiny toy" that will appeal.
But what about what makes all these toys work. Many of them would not be possible without advancements in wireless networks, software development, and plain old creativity and innovation. Having spent a large part of my career in the technology space, focused on telecommunications and media, I appreciate the ongoing efforts to deliver entertainment to greater numbers of devices. I remember trying to watch the World Series on a PC at the 2003 ITU Telecom World in Geneva. Video streaming over the Internet was still pretty sketchy. The connection was persistent, but the quality of the video was low with high pixelation and pauses as the stream re-buffered.
Today we take internet video streaming for granted, as evidenced by the rise of OTT consumption of TV and movie content. Announcements from HBO, CBS and ESPN reflect the shift in consumer behavior. Where TV has been considered the lean-back" experience of enjoying sports, comedy, drama or news, tablets and smartphones are actively intruding. Thanks to improved streaming, compression and network technologies, we can enjoy whatever content we want, wherever we are.
So as we read about the excitement of CES, consider the implications and continuous investments in:
- Wireless networks - 4G and LTE are just the latest iterations of network capacity and its ability to an increasingly wide assortment of content.
- Video cameras capable of capturing content in 4K, 6K and 8K. What's the point of those UltraHD television sets if there is no high quality content programming.
- Software development - Cloud computing has changed the way in which we access and design enterprise and consumer applications. The concept of apps will only evolve to something even more easily distributed and accessed. It could be virtual.
- Batteries - All these advanced capabilities, controlled by smartphones, placing increasing demands on battery power. Solutions to "charge-on-the-go" must evolve, if only to eliminate the number of back-up devices that must be carried.
- Data analytics - The availability and adoption of wearables creates even more data points from which consumer and enterprise can benefit. We willingly share our behavior via social networks, apps and devices. Imagine the insight gained that will enable our devices to anticipate our every need.
Sure CES is entertaining. But, it's also exciting in getting a read on the pulse of innovation and development. Sure, not everything at CES will make into the mainstream. But, it is a barometer tracking the evolution of consumer influence on technology development.