What to expect at CES 2019: 5G, 8K, AI and much more

The largest consumer electronics show on the planet is rapidly approaching, with CES 2019 being held in Las Vegas from Wednesday 9th January, to Saturday, 12th of Jan. Each...

The largest consumer electronics show on the planet is rapidly approaching, with CES 2019 being held in Las Vegas from Wednesday 9th January, to Saturday, 12th of Jan.

Each year we see a barrage of new products announced, to be released later this year. Each year there are different trends and in 2019, here’s what to expect from CES.

8K TVs

You just got yourself a shiny new 4K TV right? Well that isn’t the end of the resolution improvements. While 8K prototype displays have been at CES for a few years now, this year the manufacturers will get serious and actually ship devices.

If you can find the budget to buy one, unless you live in Japan with forward leaning broadcaster NHK (already transmitting content in 8K), you’ll likely still struggle to find native 8K content. This means the 4K content will be upscaled. Unless the likes of Netflix and YouTube decide to bump the quality again (a massive increase in bandwidth requirements), it’ll be 2020 of after when we start to see a practical flow of 8K content. That won’t stop this year’s CES TV section being all about 8K.

Word on the street is that LG is bringing an 88″ 8K OLED to CES.

Voice Assistants (again)

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are the big two contenders in the market (sorry Cortana and Siri), and like last year, expect to find integrations in almost everything that has electronics in it.

There’s been a bit of a war going on between the two tech giants in winning over developers, but we are starting to see a trend where consumers can forget about choosing a platform, because (some) devices are just supporting both.

Expect Alexa to head to the cars this year, as well as wearable devices, giving you more places to outsource you brain. What I’d love to see is someone attempt an Alexa device for work. Good luck, you’ll need it.

AI in everything

Of course Artificial Intelligence is going to be in almost every device. Some of that will be legitimate implementations and some will be much more about efforts from the marketing team to jump on-board the hype of AI.

Making devices smarter and leveraging programs that learn from large sets of data, rather than developers programming and trying to accommodate for every variable, is truly a remarkable leap forward. It’s especially useful if your gadget needs to understand things about the world, we have plenty of photos and video of the world and can rapidly teach computers, robots or just devices about the world and the physics that drive it.

Implemented correctly, AI + Humans can make us super humans and dramatically increase our productivity at work. As many have discussed AI is going to reach into almost every aspect of our lives to make us, and the machines smarter, so expect almost everything at CES to have some level of AI, be it machine learning, Neural networks, Speech recognition, Computer vision for Object or person recognition), behavior analysis, there are many, many applications.

Developing serious AI is not cheap as the large volumes of data necessary to train the AI model is expensive to store and move around. This means it’s likely we’ll see well established companies be first out of the gate for this.

5G

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone are all working hard on rolling out 5G networks in Australia. Similar efforts are happening across the world and the race is on to do it first, to capture the dollars form customers, both personal and business that are looking to take advantage of the dramatically faster and more pervasive connectivity.

5G will be more present in our lives than 4G and 3G before it, simply because more of the devices we own will be 5G enabled. At CES this year there’ll be plenty of crazy stuff like 5G enabled toasters, but more practical applications like a 5G enabled car will enable it to achieve the data analytics, entertainment and over the air updates that Tesla has enjoyed for years now.

The massive unanswered question is what the 5G plans look like. What are the data caps and how much does 15, 20 devices that are connected (with SIM cards or eSIMs) cost each month? I suspect the telcos welcome all the new 5G hardware that gets announced at CES, but practically users are unlikely to want to stretch their budgets to pay more for service.

In recent years data caps have certainly improved, but we’re still paying extra each more for each additional SIM. If all your devices are going to talk directly to the cloud, what does that do to your home WiFi and therefore your need for the NBN ? 2019 is an interesting time ahead. Don’t expect 5G networks to be everywhere, but you will be able to buy a device this year and use it on a 5G network in select locations.

Autonomous Vehicles

If you thought the race to roll out 5G was intense, wait till you see the race to develop the first fully autonomous vehicle. This isn’t a race that ends when the first manufacturer achieves it (both technically and legally).

If a company wants to survive long term, they’ll need to have products in the market in the next couple of years. Think of a showroom where you have the choice between a car that can drive itself and one that can’t. It’ll be game over, with one condition, price. That will certainly be seen as a premium feature and with many companies looking at deploying autonomous vehicles, they’ll be prepared to pay the premium price.

CES is a great opportunity for auto makers to reveal their current status in autonomous development, to set out expectations for 2019 and 2020. It’s largely regarded that 2020, 2021 are when most will have vehicles in market, but I suspect some will try a late 2019 timeframe.

The challenge of getting full autonomy right and safe and legal is a massive one. The objective though is to provide vehicles that delivers cars, trucks, busses etc that all drive themselves, relieving humans of their responsibility behind the wheel.

Imagine being in a car and being able to reply to Facebook messages, take photos, reply to emails, play games. This is the actual way to fix the road toll, once and for all.

Given the price, autonomous cars won’t replace drivers tomorrow, as individuals have their own financial situation to accommodate. In business though, like transport companies (both trucks and taxis/ride sharing services), the technology may be initially expensive, but buy a driver less vehicle and it’ll pay for the investment in no time. Again, this will be disruptive and expect those with deep pockets to go first and go fast when the recognise the benefits.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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