techUK CES 2018: DAY 1 (8th Jan). Press Launches

Vegas, here we go! The World’s greatest tech fair is on for the 51st time and, rather than growing old gracefully, it is bigger, brasher and more energetic than ever. 3900 exhibitors are showcasing 20,000 new products and will be seen by 170,000 visitors from 150 countries

Day one is press launch day, where we get to hear from the major tech players about their key new offerings a day before the show floor opens for viewing. The major press launches are dominated by the big consumer brands and the car manufacturers.

The message from all the key consumer electronics giants is that everything will be connected, voice control enabling connectivity ease of use is key and artificial intelligence and machine learning will be adopted across all consumer tech devices.

I’ve summarised some of the key messages from the key players in this blog. techUK will report in greater detail on the key tech and CE sectors and products launched at CES once we get to visit the booths from tomorrow onwards.

LG announced the launch of their new AI platform, ThinQ, which is being applied across all of LG’s consumer home, mobile and in-car offerings. Positioned as ‘AI in everyday products’ and designed to be led by voice control, learning your behavioural and lifestyle preferences LG are positioning this technology as an open solutions platform to enable LG products and technology to connect with other manufacturers’ offerings. LG are promoting their alliance with Google Assistant as the interface for connected home devices, accessed through ‘Chloe’, a table top, voice activated, ‘AI Assistant’, in the mini robot mould.

 

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Panasonic, who no longer see the traditional consumer electronics AV products as a key sector for them in the USA, talked about their broader aims across the total connected infrastructure, from homes, to vehicles, to road networks. They announced a third-generation communications network for airlines that will provide 20 times the current data speeds for passengers. Panasonic have a strong partnership with Amazon Alexa to jointly develop the next generation of in-vehicle communications and user interfaces. Two thirds of Panasonic’s revenues now come from connected world devices so, as the company enters its 101st year of existence, this sector will be its primary focus. Panasonic referenced its commitment to sustainable energy technologies as the No.1 producer of electric vehicle battery technology, supplying the likes of Tesla and Toyota.

Samsung had the biggest, brashest, slickest press launch of the day along with the biggest line of delegates queuing to hear what is new in 2018. It talked about the 3 core Samsung strategies of Investment, Connectivity and Intelligence. It made a bold claim that, by 2020, that every Samsung device sold will have AI capability and cloud connectivity as it too focused on connectivity and open standards, driven by its propriety SmartThings Cloud service and Family Hub home and in-car connected platform. As well as compatibility with Android and IOS operating systems and partnerships with Google and Amazon, Samsung will continue to develop its own Bixby voice control interface. Samsung launched its new Micro LED TV technology, the winner of this year’s CES ‘Best Innovation’ accolade. This technology utilised self-light emitting LEDs which delivers picture quality claimed to out perform the current OLED industry leading picture quality standard. Micro LED technology also allows the building of module displays, enabling up to 146” screen sizes. 

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Sony’s launch re-iterated its heritage across Video, Audio and Imaging categories and a focus on the detail of the 2018 product range. Its strength and focus on gaming, with over 73 million PlayStation units sold, will be retained. Sony was one of the first to showcase robots and those that remember the original Aibo robot dog will be pleased to hear that it makes a comeback in 2018. Sony also made several references to connected and AI technologies along with its links to autonomous vehicles.

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Possibly the biggest challenger to the ‘Big 4’ home AV manufacturers (LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony) are Hisense. The Chinese CE manufacturer is rapidly growing its global market share, investing in brand exposure through sponsorship of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. The press launch focussed on Home AV technologies, in particular its range of super-sized Laser Projection TVs. These short throw DLP projection TVs deliver some of the biggest screen sizes available for the home. Up until now it has led the ‘size matters’ war with their 100” Laser TV. At CES they announced a new 150” TV which definitely puts it in front in terms of the biggest available (for now at least).

 

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The motor vehicle sector again has a strong presence at CES.

Toyota is forecasting a fully electric vehicle (EV) line up by 2025. It unveiled its e-Palette autonomous EV, delivering highly customisable options including ridesharing and social collaboration. E-Pallette is an industry alliance with a broad range or partners, including Amazon, Mazda, Uber, DiDi (Chinese ride-sharing company) and Pizza Hut. The common goal is the development of ‘Mobility as a Service’ solutions, an example being the transportation of goods and services within standardised containers onboard autonomous electric delivery pods.

 

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Intel announced a partnership with Ferrari, bringing AI to the Ferrari challenge series as well as a partnership with Mobileye for autonomous vehicle development. In fact Intel is going far beyond earth based vehicle technologies as its partnership with NASA to evaluate how AI can support space exploration demonstrates.

Qualcomm announced a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, Honda and BYD to bring SnapDragon infotainment to vehicles.

 

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Volkswagen and NVIDIA are to collaborate on AI integration and Nissan launched its Intelligent Mobility programme and is showcasing the new Leaf electric car.

That’s 12 hours of launches compressed into a few paragraphs. Stay tuned for more show news over the coming days.

 

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