Some technology trends for the New Year are easy to predict, such as the continuing hype around faster, more reliable 5G cellular networks.
Others, however, are harder to forecast. What new artificial intelligence service will blossom to become the next Amazon Alexa or Google Home?
Can self-driving car technology take a meaningful step forward?
The International Consumer Electronics Show, the sprawling consumer electronics trade conference that opens today and runs through Friday in Las Vegas, may provide a clue when it serves up a first look at the hot technology trends for the year.
Will the rise of video streaming services accelerate following the successful launch of Disney Plus late in 2019? Are high resolution 8K TVs ready for prime time?
What does the future hold for e-sports and smart cities?
“The technology trends that are driving a lot of what is happening at the show is the rollout of 5G as well as artificial intelligence — be it in transportation, health care and a variety of other industries,” said Karen Chupka, executive vice president of CES for the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the show. “Those two trends are showing up in almost all categories across the show.”
CES is expected to bring 170,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearby venues — 60,000 of whom come from outside the United States.
It is the world’s biggest circus tent for consumer electronics — some 4,500 exhibitors will take over 2.9 million square feet.
Over the course of the show, CES spotlights hot button issues in tech. This year it’s privacy.
Apple, which hasn’t directly participated in CES for more than 20 years, has made privacy a focal point of its marketing. Apple’s senior director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, is scheduled to join Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Eagan, U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter and others today in a roundtable discussion on what consumers can expect in terms of privacy with their electronics.
TVs are among the most eye-catching products at CES. This year, a top story line will be whether manufacturers try to push super high-resolution 8K televisions into the mainstream market.
8K TVs are available today from Samsung, Sony and others. These ultra-vivid screens are expensive, however, and they typically come in large screen sizes of 55 inches and above. That makes them a niche product.
For now, there is very little that can be viewed in 8K, so TV makers would be trying to convince consumers to upgrade based on 8K content coming sometime down the road, said Paul Gagnon, executive director for Consumer Electronics Research and Analysis for IHS-Markit.
Another thing to watch is how the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney-Plus plays out for TV makers.
“Streaming services are one of the most important reasons why people buy new TVs,” Gagnon said. “If you have a six- or seven-year-old smart TV, it might not necessarily work with the new streaming services. So a lot of people are upgrading to get access.”
In addition, 2020 could be a pivotal year for OLED TVs, which serve up very crisp picture quality on ultra-thin screens.
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OLED TVs remain expensive, especially when compared with LCD TVs that sometimes are one-third the price for the same screen size.
For example, where an OLED TV currently can be purchased in the range of $1,500 to $2,000, an LCD set in an equivalent size can be had for $500.
“There has been a slowdown in OLED sales worldwide because of how fast LCD prices have fallen in 2019,” Gagnon said. “It is not unreasonable to say that for the OLED TV category, it is a make or break year in 2020. There has to be some significant movement on pricing.”