Trends from CES that caught my eye

Posted on January 23, 2013


  Should have written this a couple of weeks ago,  when the CES hype was at its highest,  however here are the things that caught my eye.  I should point out that I did not attend the event,  nor did I go deep trawling to find all the obscure things that get launched,  so if you’re after the quirky,  then I’d look else where.

  • First up – Form factors
    • Intel see thin form factors with touch screen.  Not a huge insight,  however with the trend towards ever more mobile computing this is a good thing,  and if they can deliver chips that require less height,  then this can only be good.
    • AMD’s new quad core system on a chip, for laptops, tablets, (and superphones ?)
      This is where the two worlds of laptop and tablet can merge, if tablets have all the power of a desktop/laptop,  then the distinction will become one of selecting how you prefer to type / interact more than anything else.  this is where the power of a tablet matches a desktop.
    • Many single form factor devices are dying a death.  Cameras and the like.  This is because of the convenience of having everything as a smartphone feature or peripheral.  This can be a bad thing when you want to do two or more things at once ! (also eggs and baskets comes to mind)
    • Lenovo produced a Desk sized tablet,  its enormous, its huge, its TV sized @ 27″. Clever thing is that it can be used more more than one person.  So suddenly we have a solution for multi-user touch.  This could be, for example a car dealer and their customer both using the same system to configure and price a car together.  Or for a doctor and a patient to use an expert system to guide towards a diagnosis or similar.
      Family game night seemed to be Lenovo’s positioning,  which seems naive to me.
    • Paper tablets,  these are tablets that are flexible, thin as paper.  You have several that you can touch and bend.  Amazing,  if they can commercialize the product,  this could be a very interesting way of working.
    • All sorts of wearable kit was announced,  and some of it worked.  with the new breed of plastic screens, OLEDs and the like the flexible screen is here,  and so it is possible to wear it.  Computers are ever lighter and smaller too.  Most of these however are clunky and have a way to go in the HCI space.  I think the Heads Up Display on the ski goggles is perhaps one of the best.

      So in summary it seems that thinness is the way to go,  and with it faster better computers.  However as I have said before,  please if we have thin tablets, phones etc,  lets also have the option for a fatter version that has a bigger battery,  and make it so that you can change the cover/battery at will.  So I can have it all. <insert creepy laugh here>

  • Next up – Convergence (is that a film ?  if not it should be,  prolly a spy thriller or some such)
    • Ubuntu on a phone.
      Brilliant,  if they get this working my PC software, my PC interfaces,  all on my phone,  then when I plug it into a big screen and KB/mouse I have everything I need,  then when on the move,  I still have all my data, my apps, and my work context with me !
      This could change everything,  and save a few backs from being damaged from lugging huge heavy lappies around.
    • [I will appologise in advance for the next word]  Phablets
      Big phones,  huge phones, often 5 or 6 inch screens.  These are following up on the coat tails of the Samsung Note range, and the 7″ or so tablets.  Good if you don’t want to carry both,  and have the dexterity to use them,  and still have hands big enough to use them.  I think this is a category that will flare up,  and then quickly drop back into niche.
    • USB stick for “TV Computing”
      when will people learn that the average user does not want to use their TV as a computer screen,  its too far away, to fixed to a single place, and anyway I use it for watching TV, while I use the computer.
      So complete system on a stick,  is neat packaging,  well done!,  but really,  think about it.
      What this does do though is highlight something that is important,  and so are you listening ?  if so lean in,  and read   a   l i t t l e   m o r e   s l o w l y ;-)
    • Android on everything, and everything on android (you can replace android for another linux based OS)
      It seems that the electronic giants like sony, Samsung and the like are using Android on all their devices,  TVs, radios, phones, tablets, digital cameras, washing machines, etc etc.  This means that they are all able to have a common app framework and a common ability to talk to each other.  This allows for cost effective, in service upgrades to functions,  cross talking across apps, and so on.
      I hope this will lead to a far more useful panoply of gadgets.
  • Onwards to: Control
    • WIFI is being used in more and more ways,  typically as a control mechanism,  toy cars, robots, all sorts using WIFI.  Bluetooth is still string,  however did not see a great deal that uses the new Bluetooth Low Energy spec,  when this kicks in (standard is new) then expect to see a lot of sensors, watches, shoes, alarms, and so on using it to communicate back to a smart device.  I expect it will start to trounce other standards like Jini,  and bring forward the promise of the Internet of Things.
    • Cameras that beam images to your camera phone.  Lots of these popping up.  and the cameras are being placed in other areas too,  glasses, drones, doorbells etc.  The observed world is being brought into being.
    • “robots” that can be controlled from your phone / tablet are popular,  and more of these were showcased,  from little round balls, that roll around your house acting as targets for Augmented Reality systems,  to steerable video conference systems that can be moved around an office and let you see and be seen.
    • Interfacing with gestures and eye tracking is taking off, again.  This was a great hope in the late 80s where we had dual display glasses, and data gloves etc.  Now the use of cameras to track your movements and gaze,  or to watch your fingers are really starting to work well.  From what I’ve seen though,  there is often a lack of accuracy,  and this, I guess obviously, gets worse with distance.  So laptops that interpret gaze, or finger waggling do well, where as kinect like whole body systems lack the fineness of control to replace mice etc.  This will come.
  • and of course “other”
    • I have to mention the autonomous vehicles.
      Given the huge loss of life that vehicles exert on our world,  mostly from careless humans, anything that makes driving less lethal has got to be a good thing.  and the idea of a vehicle with no driving controls, and therefore a wide range of interior layouts makes me shiver with anticipation.
    • wireless charging is coming of age
      some systems are defeating the heating issues that arise as power increases,  and standards are forming to ensure that there is a chance of interoperability. eg Power Matters Alliance has 30 odd companies involved, and the Qi standard from the Wireless Power Consortium.
    • Last but not least, interesting takes on phone covers, bulletproof,  yes bulletproof,  coz I have to dodge so many bullets in my life!
      more interest are the covers or treatments that render your phone waterproof,  now that is genius.  Insurers of the world look out.

Here is the mind map from which I collected the things that stood out.


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