CES Wrap-up

Paula LaBrot

The 2019 Computer Electronic Show just closed, leaving heads spinning as usual. It has served as the “proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years—the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.” It is a wonderland of tech innovation.

WHAT’S NEW?

This year, 5G technology has launched. G stands for generation, so this is fifth generation wireless technology. Wireless technology works like this: You send a signal out of your phone. That signal travels to an antenna tower and is then bounced to another and another until it gets to its destination.

1G wireless tech allowed us to make wireless calls on a cell phone. 2G added in a capacity for text messaging. 3G opened the door for smart phones with web browsing. And 4G made it possible for high definition video streaming. Each generation has given us more bandwidth, more room for information to travel on, and more speed.

With over 20 billion products expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, the IoT—the internet of things—is going to have to be able to handle a lot of information fast. 5G technology is built to increase connectivity multiple times faster than 4G. HOWEVER, 5G runs on a much higher frequency than its predecessors, meaning the wavelength of its signals is much shorter and cannot travel as far a distance. That creates a need for new infrastructure, towers and antennae much closer together. That remains to be built. So, in my opinion, 5G is not going to be launched too far this year, but it’s coming.

TRANSPORTATION

Uber is working hard to develop air taxi service. Its partner, Bell Aerospace, unveiled the Nexus scale model prototype hybrid electric powered vehicle, scheduled for flight testing in 2023. It looks like a drone, but it carries four passengers and a pilot at 150 miles an hour. Ordering a lift from Uber will take on a whole new meaning.

Cars are more and more autonomous. A lot of the development of these futuristic vehicles revolves around entertainment/mobile office interior designs to give passengers the ability to relax or work while the cars drive themselves. In Honda’s voice-controlled Dream Drive, the hands-free driver interface and passenger interfaces make it possible to find restaurants, do banking, shop, play games, or watch movies.

PC Magazine describes the Hyundai Elevate “transformer” car that “can walk or climb over obstacles with extendable robotic legs on a modular, multi-use chassis that shrinks down into driving mode. The car can swap out different attachments and is capable of climbing a five-foot vertical wall or over a five-foot gap while keeping its passengers level.” My cousin Benn says, “Who the hell needs a car like that?”

That’s what’s interesting about the future; we don’t always know what shape life will take when we start using all this new tech. Sifted through the endless creativity filters of human beings, application of inventions will be varied and surprising.

TELEVISIONS

Televisions are thinner, more modular, foldable, and sharper than ever…and so big! LG debuted an 88-inch Oled (organic light-emitting diode) television that supports 8K images and has built-in Google Assistant and Alexa support. Oled televisions are highly energy efficient and have incredibly good color and contrast. 8K screen resolution can display images right at the edge of what the human eye is capable of seeing. Content will follow as with 4K, which is already commercial. 8K is coming.  

QUANTUM COMPUTER

This is so exciting. IBM’s Q System 1, while far from ready, is a giant step forward in quantum computing. It is enclosed in an airtight, glass box to protect the thousands of components inside which are inherently unstable. It is the first universal approximate superconducting quantum computer to operate outside of a research lab. This 20-cubit machine can be accessed commercially over the Cloud from IBM’s Q Computation Center. It’s a beginning…but wow!

SO MUCH

Trying to tell you about the wonderland that is the CES Show is like trying to tell you about all the stars in our galaxy in 800 words. There is an electric Harley Davidson. There is fabric from North Face produced by nano-spinning that weaves a fabric called Futurelight on a submicroscopic level, producing lighter, super breathable, totally waterproof clothing. Testcard has a “postcard” with a pull-out urine test and an app for immediate results. Double Take binoculars by NexOptic replaced eye cups with a digital screen. It takes photos and video up to 4K. Sharp has an 8K camera that will sell for under $5,000. The Cocoon smart digital beehive uses a solar top panel to run a heating/cooling monitoring system. And the robots!

Hands down, my favorite item of the show is the latest plant-based Impossible Burger, a totally meatless burger that got super rave reviews. This new version is game changing and world changing, since animal agriculture is a major cause of environmental destruction.

This is a smattering of the 4,500 exhibits at CES 2019. Check it out on YouTube and the Internet.

Vamos a ver.

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