One Week out from CES: Nine Things to Look For

My ever-informative Delta app tells me that there is only one week to go until I head out to Las Vegas for CES 2019. Trying to game what the central theme of a particular CES before it happens will forever be a losing play, but I do have nine things I'm looking for this year:

1) 5G becomes a reality. There's been a lot of loose talk and looser specification about 5G over the past few years. I'm hoping that the many 5G-related events at CES 2019, including Verizon's keynote and the New Frontiers in Mobile discussion, will add more clarity to what our cellular future will be and how soon it will arrive.

2) AI, AI, and more AI. Ginny Rometty's conference-opening keynote will describe IBM's efforts around AI and quantum—and that'll be just the beginning at CES 2019. Samsung will show off eight separate AI projects from their Creative Lab, and almost 70 exhibitors will be in the Artificial Intelligence & Robotics area. Will AI be the number one buzzword of this year's CES? How many AI branded products and technologies will actually use AI?

3) Wither the auto manufacturers? It turns out that self-driving cars are harder than some thought and that hybrids and pure electrics are not huge sales successes (neither a hybrid nor a pure electric placed in the top 20 of US vehicles sales). Audi, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai/Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Nissan are still going to be on the show floor (out of habit?)—what will their emphasis be this year?

4) A few camera introductions. Yes, people still buy cameras, even in this era of ridiculously capable smartphone sensors. Canon, GoPro, KODAK, Nikon, Panasonic, Polaroid, and Sony will all be on-site, making announcements likely from at least a few.

5) More retro-flavored music electronics introductions. It's now not a CES if there isn't at least one prestige turntable introduction. However, we get other types of retro music products now—boomboxes, cassette players, synthesizers, etc.

6) At least a little more attention paid to Internet of Things (IoT) security. A bunch of IoT vendors got burned in 2018, and it's a safe bet that some (many?) more will have security issues in 2019. Will IoT vendors finally start to use some of the third party security services and will these services truly be useful?

7) More products that make older cars smarter. With the average age of an automobile on the road in the United States now approaching 12 years, there's a huge market (perhaps 200 million vehicles) for devices that make your older car at least a little bit smarter. Most of these products connect through the ODB-II connector that's been around since 1996—expect that to become a limitation, as I believe you can only attach one device at a time.

8) Related to 7), will any vendors try to jump into the market for upgrading 5 to 10 year old cars that generally have poorly aged first or second generation telematics already installed? This is a more complex market (it's given aftermarket car stereo manufacturers fits), but it's also a market that doesn't have to be convinced of the value an upgrade.

9) Finally, what relatively unsung areas of technology will I see that interest me? At every CES, there are at least a few technologies that come out of the blue with interesting applications, such as Tanvas in 2017 and the Griffin BreakSafe USB-C power connector in 2016.

What unexpected products and technologies will I see this year? Visit Mac Edition Radio in 2019 and find out!

John Mulhern III, Posted 12/30/2018