CES 2014

Semiconductor Intelligence will be attending the International CES this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) puts on the show each year. The CEA insists the meeting be called “International CES” and states “CES” no longer stands for Consumer Electronics Show. The show is now about “consumer technology” which is broader than just electronics. Anyway, it is a chance to get together with about 150,000 of my closest friends and see the latest in consumer gadgets. I will post daily updates with my impressions on the coolest stuff and observations of the chaos which is CES.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

For all of you suffering in heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures, it is sunny and in the 50s in Las Vegas.  Today was CES Unveiled, an introduction to some of the CES exhibits. The items ranged from the usual suspects (lots of headphones and speakers) to the cool to the “why does anyone need this?”

droneAmong the cool: drones are not just for taking out Al Qaeda anymore. Several were flying around CES Unveiled. Supposedly they have practical applications in surveying and aerial photography, but they are mainly a cool toy you can use to spy on your neighbors.

Also among the cool: zepp.com has sensors which mount on a golf club, baseball bat or tennis racket. All the information about your swing (motion, speed, angles) is available to review on your PC or phone.arrival 3

Another cool device was from guard2me.com. This wristwatch size device is designed for people with dementia. The device can track where a person is – outside with GPS or inside with Wifi. It can also sense when a person falls and alert medical personnel.

In the “why does anyone need this” category is a lighting system which allows you to turn off or dim your lights with your phone. A more practical lighting device was from SmartCharge. The LED bulb acts as a normal light bulb. When the power goes out, it will run for up to four hours using the regular light switch control.

GM (back to General Motors, no longer Government Motors since the U.S. sold its shares) is introducing 4G LTE on many of its Chevrolet 2015 models. It has partnered with AT&T to bring you all sorts of apps you can use in your car. Just what we need – more distracted drivers.

More from sunny Vegas tomorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Press conference day at International CES, starting with LG at 8 am and finishing with Sony at 5 pm. Some of the most interesting presentations (I will not overuse the word “cool” today) were:

Izon, LLC introduced a glasses-free 3D TV. They demonstrated on a 24 inch screen playing the latest “Superman” movie from a 3D Blu-ray player (they promised bigger screens at their booth). The display was definitely 3D, but not quite as pronounced as with 3D glasses.

Intel introduced RealSense technology designed make human interaction with technology more natural, intuitive and immersive. The first product is a 3D camera built into PCs and tablets which allows accurate recognition of gestures and facial features. Intel demonstrated games, educational applications, music and video conferencing all controlled by gestures without touching the PC, keyboard or mouse. Intel also introduced the next-generation Dragon Assistant from Nuance which it calls a conversational personal assistant. Will this finally be the voice recognition technology which works well enough for people to begin talking to their PCs (instead of swearing at them)? Stay tuned.

race car The most exciting press conference of the day was Qualcomm’s unveiling of the first electric formula 1 style race car. The Spark-Renault SRT_01E will run in a series of races called the FIA Formula E Championship beginning in September 2014 in Beijing, China. Qualcomm is a major sponsor and is using the Formula E to promote its push into automotive communications applications. The car can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of about 150 mph. When the car was making laps the most noticeable sound was squealing tires rather than engine noise.




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Today was the official start of International CES. The crowds were huge – almost every area of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center was crowded.

Samsung 105 inch curved UHDTV_edited-1Now that we have all spent lots of money replacing our old picture tube television sets with big flat panel HDTVs, manufacturers are pushing the next big thing: Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV. Also known as 4K, UHD TV has about 8 million pixels compared to 2 million pixels in HDTV. The detail is incredible. The TV on the left is Samsung’s 105 inch diagonal, curved UHD TV. Samsung also showed a 110 inch flat UHD TV and an 85 inch bendable UHD TV which can move from flat to curved.

Size matters in UHD TV. Matching Samsung’s 110 inches were Chinese companies CNS and TCL. LG and Toshiba each had 105 inch UHD TVs in a 21 by 9 format, similar to a wide movie screen. Sharp measured in at 90 inches. Companies showing 85 inch UHD TVs included Panasonic, RCA, Sony and Chinese companies Changhong, Haier, Hisense, and Konka.

3D TVs which do not require glasses to view were shown by Haier, Konka, Samsung and Sharp. As with the Izon TV demonstrated on Monday, the glasses free 3D TVs did not have the intensity of 3D TVs which require glasses. However the 3D effect was very acceptable for casual viewing.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sensors are big at CES. Big as in many vendors and applications, but small in size. Sensors are prominent features in automobiles, PCs, tablets and mobile phones. But one of the most exciting applications is the relatively new area of digital health and fitness. CES has 366 exhibitors in this category, with most of them featuring sensor technology.

LG Lifeband

In digital fitness, the LG Lifeband Touch won the Tech Radar Best of CES award for best fitness tech (pictured left). The sleek looking wristband flexes to fit your wrist with one end open, thus no pressure points. On its own it senses heart rate, motion, acceleration and altitude. Paired with an iPhone or Android phone it alerts to incoming calls or texts and controls music.


The best looking device was the Wellograph Sapphire Wellness Watch. The rectangular, moderate sized black watch has a sapphire crystal display and a choice of dress or sport band. It tracks pulse and activities and displays data and graphs. In contrast, some companies are still putting out bulky devices which look like you are wearing your phone on your wrist (as shown in the unidentified device below).clunker

Wearable sensor devices which include health and fitness devices are expected to be a $1.8 billion market in 2014. Fitbit is the leader in fitness devices, claiming two-thirds of the market in 2013. This is certain to be a strong growth category in the next several years.