The largest trade show in North America, CES® (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) starts this week in Las Vegas. The numbers are staggering. There are roughly 4,000 exhibitors hawking their wares to approximately 180,000 people. I’ve been attending the show since 1996, and I can tell you from personal experience, it is one of the most exciting weeks of the year.
According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA™, the organization that produces CES), the narrative of CES 2019 is the transition from the “Connected Age,” which the CTA posits will end this year, to the “Data Age,” which it believes will begin in earnest circa 2020.
Turning Data into Action
There are three basic things you can do with data. You can transform it (aggregate, enrich, process, etc.), you can learn from it (perform regressions, cluster, classify, etc.), and you can use what you have learned to make predictions (simulations, optimizations, etc.). There will be dozens of managed service businesses and hundreds of products on display at CES 2019 that do some or all of this.
Where Will All the Data Come From? Um … You!
Practically everything on display at the show will have some kind of sensor or create some kind of data point that can be turned into action. This is a primary function of mobile devices, fixed wireless devices, wired devices, IoT, ASR, NLP, Smart Home/Business/City Technologies, and just about every other connected device you can think of.
Every time you use a device or a connected service, you create data. According to IBM, Cisco, and several other big tech companies, we now create something on the order of 1.86 Exabytes of data per hour – and the rate is increasing. According to estimates from the same organizations, the sum total of all data (of any kind) created by humanity prior to 1986 equaled approximately 227 Exabytes. The velocity of data is increasing and, quite clearly, will always increase. You have only yourself to blame.
The 5G hype machine has the volume turned all the way up. AT&T has already started advertising 5Ge technology. It’s not a 5G network, but it sure sounds like one. When pressed, AT&T admits that it is simply its existing 4G LTE network rebranded. How is this not a marketing stunt?
That said, 5G will be all over CES 2019. Everyone will be showing off technology that will take advantage of “real” 5G networks when they emerge. The promises are exceptional and, hype aside, life-changing. Super-low latency and blinding speed will allow engineers to use inexpensive computers and sensors where they will do the most good and access the cloud only when computational horsepower is required. The advent of 5G will fundamentally change the way engineers think about designing self-driving vehicles, drones, robots, and even toaster ovens. 5G is a big deal … it’s just not quite here.
When you see an 8K image on a gigantic flat screen monitor, your brain explodes. OK, that may be too much hype. No, actually, I’ll stand by that. Your brain will explode. Sadly there is practically no content available in 8K. It’s hard enough to find 4K content you care about.
This doesn’t seem to bother the flat screen manufacturers. They will all be showing awesome, beautiful, exquisite, remarkable, blow-your-mind 8K monitors. Unless you’re planning to purchase a monitor that is bigger than 85″, you just won’t see the difference between 4K and 8K. And if the sets were not next to each other, after factoring in the environment and ambient lighting in your unique installation, very few individuals would be able to tell the difference between best-in-class 4K and 8K monitors.
AI will be on display all over the show. Here, the hype-cycle has crossed the Rubicon from hype to simply lying. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and many other tier one tech companies work on the cutting edge of AI. It’s used for search, real-time bidding, online pricing, translation, pattern recognition, face recognition, automatic speech recognition, etc. When you see a smaller company touting its AI-enabled technology, ask hard questions. You would be surprised at how easy it is to fake AI on a small scale.
Why I Love CES
Every year, CES functions as a highly reliable crystal ball. It allows you to see into the future. Want to know what will empower consumers in 12 months? Look at this year’s tech offerings. Want to know what consumers will be buying in 18 months? Pay attention to the products that will ship in Q3 2019. Want to know what’s on the horizon? Spend time with Intel, Qualcomm, and the other chip manufacturers and see what’s on the drawing board. Wondering about potential investment or business opportunities? CES is the best place to form and test your technology-based ideas.
This year’s show is filled with big promises and even bigger dreams. Can collectively cooperative human minds invent our way to a happy, healthy, and prosperous future? I’m optimistic. See you in Las Vegas!
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.