After a bright-and-early news conference from LG, the first full day of CES 2019 kicked off with a “Trends to Watch” presentation from the CTA’s Steve Koenig. We’re not sure he understands exactly what “Netflix and chill” means, but he did offer up five CES tech trends that will change the way we live in 2019 and beyond.
The internet’s been buzzing about the next generation of wireless for a while now, but 2019 is when we’ll know exactly when and where 5G will be deployed. Koenig cautions that, like 4G and 3G before it, the world will be slow to adopt 5G, since it requires massive infrastructure upgrades. He compares it to a developing child: It’s taking its first steps now, but 2019 is when it enters the toddler phase and starts coming of age. Once that happens, pretty much any industry could see “disruptive innovation,” just like Uber and Lyft did with 4G.
In 2019, we’ll start to see AI embedded in more devices, things that Koenig calls “vessels for the genie.” That’s the most visible part of the AI spectrum — consumer products like phones, TVs, smart home hubs, and even cars. But we’ll also see more AI in public utilities and infrastructure projects, and voice will continue becoming the primary interface between humans and machines. No more downloading and opening a specific app to get a job done — just use your voice to ask a digital assistant.
CES 2019 is all about QLED 8K resolution screens, and they may seem like overkill at first. After all, there isn’t much 8K-native content available yet, the screens are extraordinarily expensive, and we’ve barely “gotten our arms around” 4K resolution. But there’s actually a physical reason why 8K is the future: screen size. The average TV is fast approaching 50 inches, at which point we need higher resolutions for lifelike imagery. Plus, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be broadcast in 8K, and we’ll want to see each individual feather on the Badminton shuttlecocks.
Augmented reality and virtual realty
So far, AR and VR have primarily been relegated to gaming, like Niantic’s “Pokémon Go” and Facebook’s Oculus. But 2019 is when we’ll start seeing applications in other fields like education and healthcare. And we’re not just talking about visual reality, either — Bose recently announced a pair of “audio AR” glasses.
These will be even slower to adopt than 5G, but automated driving is a spectrum, and 2019 is the year when commercially available cars will start moving from the “mostly human” side toward the automated side. Right now, the question is whether automakers will adopt “conditional automation” first or skip straight to high automation or even full automation. Either way, the technology will pivot in 2019 from testing to commercial deployment.
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