CES 2019: The Latest from the Tech World
By Mike Howie
January is typically a big month for the consumer technology industry, and this year was no different. A who’s who of manufacturers, both established and on the rise, assembled in Las Vegas to showcase their newest and most innovative products at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
As usual, TVs were a major focus of this year’s show. Many consumers are still catching up with the latest 4K TVs, but that didn’t stop Sony, Samsung, LG and many other manufacturers from putting their new 8K panels on display. While these TVs are an incredible achievement and can bring a new level of clarity to home theaters, they probably won’t see much adoption in the near future. For one, they’re expensive: Samsung’s 65-inch 8K TV, the cheapest of the bunch, costs $5,000. And two, there’s just not much 8K content out there right now. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have yet to share firm plans for streaming in 8K, and not many content producers even record in the format.
While 8K displays are still a thing of the future, there were plenty of new flagship TVs for consumers to get excited about, including one that rolls into a box when not in use. First unveiled as a prototype in 2018, the LG Signature OLED TV R was on display again ahead of release this spring. At the push of a button, the TV rises out of its base in 10 seconds and retracts completely when not in use. Plus, the 65-inch display can unfurl into three different modes: full size, a slightly shorter 21:9 cinematic aspect ratio that removes black bars from the top and bottom of content, and a “Line Mode” that uses only about a fourth of the display to show music controls and smart TV notifications.
The Fight to Be the Smartest Assistant
Amazon’s Alexa is currently the best-known smart assistant on the market, and Google came to CES looking to change that. Their presence was everywhere, from a giant booth and billboards to decals on the Las Vegas monorail. Human “Google Assistants” dressed in white even taught attendees how their digital namesake works with a variety of products on display at the show.
But because the majority of those products work with both Google Assistant and Alexa, the two tech behemoths are still trying to prove why their assistant is the best fit for your home. Google is betting on features and software, and this year they launched a new interpreter mode for Google Assistant that can translate between 27 different languages in real time. Amazon, on the other hand, is focused on devices that make your home smarter. They promoted their Key by Amazon services, which allow users to control and monitor entry to homes, garages and businesses, as well as new Ring video doorbells, smart lighting and sensors for Ring Alarm.
Cars (and Trucks, and Yachts) of the Future
Just as smart technology is firmly embedding itself in our cars, more and more automobile manufacturers are claiming their spots at CES. This year we saw everything from a new, long-range version of the Nissan Leaf that can travel more than 200 miles on a charge to the Adonis, a 78-foot luxury yacht decked out with smart tech from bow to stern.
Harley-Davidson announced its first all-electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, as well as concepts for an electric bicycle and an electric scooter. Taking it a step further, BMW Motorrad presented a self-driving motorcycle that can start from a stop, lean into turns and stop on its own. While we probably won’t see any self-driving bikes on the road any time soon, BMW plans to use the technology in its motorcycles to help cut down on the most avoidable accidents and keep riders safe.
Daimler showcased their Cascadia big rig, a semi-autonomous truck scheduled for delivery later this year — well ahead of the highly anticipated Tesla Semi. While the truck can’t drive itself, it does boast a variety of driver-assistance features that could make the road safer for everyone, including automatic lane centering, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking. The driver can even tell the truck to stay closer to one side of the lane than the other to avoid clipping traffic on tight roads.
And So Much More
As always, this year’s CES was a huge event packed with something for everyone. New phones? Check. Smart trackers for pets? Check. A ping pong-playing robot? Check. Smart toilets? Check. Now we’ve really seen it all. Until next year, that is.
- How do you think the technology on display at CES will continue to evolve in the future?
- What type of technology do you want to see at next year’s CES?
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