I'm largely in "Getting things done and out of the way before heading off to the Consumer Electronics Show next week" mode. So, unless something massive happens in politics between now and then -- which I understand is extremely possible these days -- I'll pretty leave it to Trump to deal with things on his own.
In the month leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show, I always get inundated by emails from the press reps of companies pitching their products. Several hundred of them keep pouring in, and it's from this that I usually get a sense of what the "theme" might be for the show, what products and technologies seem to be leading the way in Tech World. And I must say that this year is looks wildly uninteresting.
While disappointing, this isn't totally shocking. Over the 15-20 years I've been going to CES, what I've noticed is that sometimes technology develops SO fast that every few years the industry needs a year off to catch up. So, what happens is that there's no Big New Technology or Big New Products that other products sort of coalesce around, but rather just refinements of what's already there. And that seems to be the case these year.
For instance, of the hundreds of emails I've received, there have only been about a half dozen that I've been intrigued enough to read. The Subject line said enough, and I made a mental note of it, but nothing to specifically write down to check out. The technologies that appear to be most prominent are connected Smart homes, driverless cars, 5G connectivity and VR (virtual reality). To be clear, all of these are very serious tech with solid development for the future, but still…the future. (Even connected homes, which has made to it to the forefront the past few years, though not the way they're pushing themselves, beyond just setting your lights and heating and making sure your doors are locked, but rather with sensors and inter-connection to appliances and local communities.)
The future of 5G broadband, by the way (most of your phones now use 4G) offers stunning usability, not just faster but in a way that changes how you will use streaming and phones and tablets. Here's what I mean -- you know the lag between when you click to send a command, and it's activated? With 5G, that lag will be 1 millisecond, which is 400 times faster than when you blink your eye. But 5G is very complicated technologically and still isn't ready to roll out yet.
I was discussing this with a friend who's been going to CES far-longer than I have and who dives much deeper into the field than me, and he said his perception of the emails he's been receiving and the landscape at CES was the same. It looks to more a case of improvements on what already exists and preparations for down the line. All valuable, just not riveting to me for covering it all.
Still, I look forward to the show, like I always do. As much of a circus as it is -- and I'm never especially comfortable in crowds -- I love CES. It's gadget and whizbang heaven. But with my expectations from what's been sent, I feel comfortable that I should be able to browse more quickly this year, skimming the surface more than usual, without missing much. Though who knows? Once I actually get to the convention halls and start roaming the show floors, I must discover a very different reality that what is being presented.
I'm not going yet, though. Still a few days off and much to get done here first. And so many portable devices to charge ahead of time...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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