What to expect from CES 2012

January 9, 2012

2011 was a whirlwind year for technology.  Smart phones now abound,  smart TVs and app based devices are moving into the home with products such as Samsung’s Smart TVs and BluRay players, Roku, Sonos, AppleTV and more, with others some had never heard of just a year or two ago.  Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and others providing a good bit of video content that dips into our regular viewing content from our traditional cable and satellite providers.

Private content (internet only) is also making a big move, from personal music videos to small internet only TV shows to privately produced and distributed stand-up comedy routines by those who developed their own distribution models (think Louis C K – https://buy.louisck.net/).  This will have an effect on the television viewing market, and products, over the coming months and years, but we have yet to see how this will play out and whether the music and video industries will develop workable business models (this time) or sue everyone to stop the unstoppable, as they did before (think Napster and MPAA suits against movie distribution models.

Other technologies have not fared so well in 2011, such as 3DTV, which hasn’t quite had the impact some thought,  and although Andriod now has over 50% of the smart phone market, the iPad is still the king of tablets, with few Droid or other tablets doing much.  The Blackberry Playbook and HP Touchpad come to mind.  The Kindle Fire seems to have hit a sweet spot and is getting good reviews.   Computers and laptops are still struggling to find their place in the new tablet/smartphone/smart TV market, since everything is a computer now.

I don’t expect to see too much with respect to home automation at this years show (I’d love to be wrong here).  I haven’t read or seen anything about any new breakthroughs, myself.  Maybe some new Zwave and Zigbee products, more importantly I am hoping for more interoperability between these new products and existing systems.   That means I can take those new products and add them to any of my residential clients’ existing systems.   Otherwise, I think some newer systems that are decentralized (have no central processor, brains are in the devices themselves) will hit the market this year.     Other than that, we all hear about the intrusion into our industry of companies like Verizon and Comcast, who plan to begin offering home automation as a service (though most of us haven’t quite figured out how that will work, for them or their customers).

So what WILL CES 2012 have in store for us this year?  A plethora of new smart phones, multitude of new tablets, and new TVs to choose from, to start.   From there, well, new gadgets galore.  What will be life changing?  I can guess, but to know for sure, you’ll have to wait for the after show CES Blog.

I, personally, am most interested in what will amend, alter or change the smart home market.  With respect to home automation, not much has emerged over the past year.  New technologies such as HDMI and others will change some requirements for our head-end switching systems and our content management and storage (see my upcoming post on setting up an HDMI system).   Otherwise, I see the biggest advancement in apps allowing your smart phone or tablets/iPad to now control many of the systems that have been installed for a decade or more.   Any FulTech client can now upgrade any system we’ve installed going back to 1996, with an iPad/iPhone/Android device that can control all aspects of their existing systems.    Some emerging technologies, that are still a little difficult to fully integrate are zigbee and zwave devices such as doorlocks.   The ability to control and get feedback of the status of your doorlocks on your smart phone would be a huge boon.  This sounds easy, but over the past 2 decades, although it can be done, it was always quite expensive, ugly (typically using commercial access control systems) and a little kludgy.

TV’s continue to have a major presence at CES and will likely get larger, thinner, smarter and cheaper.   Today’s TVs are thinner than an inch and many thinner than 1/2 inch.  Many include “Smarts” or basically the ability to use Apps to view movies, listen to music or peruse the internet (Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify and more).   They are also getting larger, where 55″-65″ was a large screen the last few years, 70″-90″ Plasmas and LCDs will be available this year, and at reasonable prices ($4000 for a 70″ TV).  Expect 3DTV to still get pushed on us, but with newer better glasses and “glasses free” 3D TVs.

Two interesting new television market developments.  Vizio has announced it is entering the PC market, most likely developing devices to serve as music and video distribution devices.   Since that was just announced, we’ll have to see how that develops.   The other big one is APPLE entering the TV market.  Since we already know about AppleTV (the little box that allows you to watch iTunes shows on your TV) not sure what to call this other than APPLE’S TV.   Apple is supposed to be developing a new revolutionary television device, which there is little information about.  Sure to be app based, smart and controllable using your iPhone and or iPad, not much else is known and though we can all speculate, that should be out later this year, though won’t be shown at CES (Apple typically shuns any non-Apple event).  Of Course we can’t count GoogleTV out, and will have to see what they have in store for us.   Finally, HDTVs with WiDi, wireless HDMI technology, built in, will be the next thing.   Though the wireless HDMI technology I saw 2  years ago, never took off.

Green, Sustainability and Energy Management are two emerging markets I’d like to see more in. Specifically energy monitoring devices that are interoperable (can work and integrate with 3rd party systems) and devices that produce the energy they need to operate.  There is a new Kindle cover that incorporates a solar panel in the cover that reportedly will power the unit for days.  That’s a small breakthrough. Consider something like that for smart phones, if you live in a sunny place.

Tablets and e-Readers will explode this year.  I am hearing $100 or less tablets will hit the market late this year, so we’ll see what that does not only to the tablet market, but to Apple.   Microsoft and Intel are releasing their new forays into the laptop world with Windows 8 and Ivy Bridge (a new chip), neither of which will be available during the show (still in development).   PCs will get smaller and more integrated with bigger screens and look for more all-in-one systems.

Some notable award events at this years CES show.  The CES Innovations Awards awards the newest and most innovative technologies and gadgets, a must see at the show.   The CEA’s Mark of Excellence Awards reception, it’s first year at CES,  rewards the industries best and brightest in design and installation of high-end integrated systems, will be on Tuesday night, on the show floor. The Leaders in Technology Dinner, a gathering of 500 of the most influential folks in the industry will be held on Wednesday night at the Wynn.  Finally, the Emmy Awards will be on Thursday night.  Of course, this is the Technology Emmy’s and it’s 6th year at CES, but still the Emmy’s nonetheless.    The awards require no invitation, but the other dinners and events are invitation only.  Though still cool that they are there.

I plan on attending several days this week, but as anyone who has ever been can tell you, you just can’t see everything at the show.  My focus will be on integration and control systems,  smart phones and tablet options and maybe just some good ole, over the top, gadgets.  See ya in a week.




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