CES 2019 - techUK Blog by Paul Hide

Today, whilst exhibitors on the show floors work flat out to get their booths ready before the masses enter the show halls tomorrow morning, the worlds’ media get to soak up a 12 hour shift of back to back press launches by the industry big guns. The Mandalay Bay conference centre is the setting;  each organisation gets 45 minutes to make their pitch for media oxygen and airtime as to why what they have to say is news for those hungry for CES knowledge.

Having fuelled up with coffee, bananas and muffins, I attended 10 of these launches to gain a flavour of what the talking points of this years’ CES maybe.

First out the traps at 8am are LG, and thanks to jet lag, we are all there early, with crowds gathering from 7.00am, waiting to get a ringside seat for the show.

LG, led the commentary that many of the CE brands would cover today. A focus on AI/ Smart and Home technologies. LG talked about constant improvements in the technologies that enable more seamless interaction between the user and the device. 5G was high up the agenda, with the comment that 2019 is the year of 5G launch and those waiting until 2020 will be too late to the party. LG’s partnership with Qualcomm is yet more evidence that even the big players believe the forging of alliances is the way to success and was a strategy that many others talked about throughout the day.

LG ThinQ enhanced AI technologies are offered across a large number of devices, offering up a more natural and conversation AI voice based experience focussing on personalisation of recommendations from the AI and advanced device care services, proactively optimising device performance for longer.

Specific products of note included: Smart clothing care solutions, a capsule based home brew solution

and a very impressive OLED rollable TV

 

that rises out of its own plinth; a particularly impressive bit of kit I must admit.

Like many, LG are covering all bases regarding connect-ability by offering Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and also Apple Air Play compatibility. They claim that Amazon Alexa alone is now available across 20,000 different devices from over 3000 brands.

8K TV technology will be supported on premium models, using HDMI 2.1 as this connectivity supports both High Frame Rate and 8k data transfer.

Next up were Bosch, and, via a techno based introductions, their ‘Like a Bosch’ campaign focussed on IoT as the centre of their connected platform. We were told that the IoT market will be worth $250bn in 2020, equating to 55 billion IoT installed devices globally.

All Bosch products within 10 years will have IoT connectivity as they expand their offering of sensors, software and services. They also focussed on the ‘collaboration is key’ message with industry partners to take advantage of the forecast 15% of households (250million) that by 2020 will have at least one connected device in their home. Bosch also made an important play on the need for responsible industry data management and said that they will ensure all customer data processing is focussed on transparency and privacy.

Panasonic’s brand of smart home is ‘Homex’ and they too talked about the AI improvements that deliver a more seamless experience. Panasonic have a big focus on energy provision; they showcased their 48eV modular power train system for vehicles along with their road ware software the supports autonomous vehicle movement and traffic management under the ‘Cirrus by Panasonic’ brand and will leverage this technology with a number of global partners.

Two such partners in e-mobility are Harley Davidson, showcasing their first, Panasonic powered, electric Motorcycle and Van Dessel’s ebike range, powered by Panasonic.

 

Panasonic’s consumer electronics focus was on their LUMIX camera range, with the world’s first full frame mirrorless digital camera, the GZ series OLED range of TVs and the new Technics pro turntables, ably demonstrated by DJ Skratch Bastid (sic), a man who most definitely does not go to work wearing a suit.

The biggest queue was for the Samsung launch

and the size and impact of the show did not disappoint those that waited up to an hour in line for it to start. The event was opened by global CEO H.S. Kim 

and , as usual, the launch had the swagger that only Samsung can deliver at CES. 2019 is Samsung’s 50th anniversary, a company that now sell ½ a billion digital devices a year.

The power of the Samsung brand is brought home when you know that 75% of all USA homes have at least one Samsung device in them. IoT. 5G and AI where the central themes, mirroring LG’s message. Samsung’s proprietary AI technology, ‘Bixby’, is positioned as their connected living proposition. Bixby technology is now offered across the premium ranges of TV, Home Appliances and Mobile devices.

Samsung’s product message focussed on their QLED TVs, with models up to 98” with 8K capability. Accepting that 8K content is either non existent or very thin on the ground in most markets, Samsung offer up scaling technology to deliver 8k like quality using 4K content. As with many other brands, the full range of compatibility with Google, Amazon voice control and Apple Play is now offered.

One further enhancement of AI, is on device capability, meaning that a lot of the AI features and benefits can be used without the device needing to be connected to the web or cloud. And, finally, Samsung unveiled a range of robotic assistant, named Samsung Bot Care, with a focus on health and wellbeing support.

But, in TV, the established are not having it all of their own way. Two fast growing Chinese brands, Hisense

 

and TCL launched impressive ranges of high end TV and are both growing share in the US market at a fast pace, and for Hisense, growth in Europe too. Not only are these brands bringing extremely competitively priced TVs to market, they are receiving many plaudits for the quality and performance of these products. Perhaps no wonder that, in volume share terms, they are both top 4 brands by volume.

Intel’s press launch,

whilst maybe lacking the opportunity to wow the audience with consumer products, provided a clear picture of how their technology enables and is behind the brands above being able to offer the product performances that they do. Launching their 9th generations core processors and ‘icelink’ technology it is clear that much of the power behind the product lies with Intel. 5G is a core focus for Intel and they expect to power the 5G base station market, moving from a 0% share in 2014 to a 40% share by 2022. A partnership with Comcast is aiming to deliver 10Gigabyte data capability to USA homes very soon.

A finally, the motor manufactures. Their presence seemed to be a little subdued compared to 2018. Possibly because 2019 is more evolution in electric and autonomous vehicle technology than the revolutionary statements last year and perhaps also because the Detroit Motor Show kicks off the day CES finishes, so maybe some are keeping their powder dry for that.

Anyway, Toyota and Hyundai took to the stage with some interesting stories to share. Toyota are no longer a ‘car’ company, they are now a ‘mobility’ company, a statement that many other vehicle manufacturers also appear to be making. Their electric vehicle strategy aims to reach a 90% reduction on greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles by 205o and their ‘Guardian’ autonomous driving technology aims to all but eliminate road deaths caused by driver error.

Interestingly, Toyota see level 4 autonomy, rather than full level 5 autonomy as the technology most likely to be adopted as this level can enhance driving pleasure, rather than remove it altogether.  Toyota ended their presentation with the launch of their new EP4 autonomous test vehicle which will be travelling the roads of the USA later this year.

Hyundai expanded on the electric and connected messages with the addition of the customisable message; vehicle design that allows for personalisation of a vehicle’s interior layout along with the flexibility to change the layout for the usage of different family members. Hyundai’s most impressive reveal was a concept vehicle that can ‘walk’ as well as drive.

The wheels are on robotic type legs which allows the vehicle to adopt a 4 legged step approach for obstacles that any normal vehicle could not traverse. Usages include search and rescue and first responder services in applications such as natural disaster responses, reaching people trapped where other forms of transport cannot access them.

So there you have it, a whistle stop tour around some of the press launches of the day. We’ve a UK International Trade Reception this evening, hosted by the UK Minister of Trade, Liam Fox and tomorrow, the show floors open. My next blog will  update on both.

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