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CES 2018: Top Tech and Display Trends

26 Jan 2018

Every year CES brings the latest products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry to Las Vegas. The solutions showcased at the conference and the conversations that follow are often a good indication of the year ahead in tech and digital. So what did the recent trade show suggest for 2018?

We look at three of the top tech trends and three digital display trends that were discussed at the event and what they mean for smart cities, screen innovations, and our daily lives.

CES 2018 Tech Trends

5G revolution

Faster Connectivity With 5G

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Faster connectivity is on its way. 5G will change the way people interact with digital on the move. It will be 50 times faster than the current 4G, improving speed and coverage up to 1 GB/s. Explaining the upgrade at a panel discussion, Chris Stark, chief business development officer at Nokia, stated that “we will see more functionality at the edge, with massive speeds, low latency and a large number of connectivity points."

5G’s usage is varied and the impact will be felt across a variety of sectors, including manufacturing and transportation. One of the more obvious applications for 5G is smart cities. The increased speed of connectivity will improve traffic management systems and enhance the efficiency of electrical grids.

5G will support Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) allowing machines to communicate with each other with only minimal human involvement. The possibility of mMTC supporting city-wide infrastructures has been on the radar for a while now but with 5G getting closer, it will be a reality sooner. The safety of autonomous vehicles, for example, can be improved by faster connectivity with other connected devices.

On a smaller scale, 5G will also impact even the smallest of interactions made by individuals. It’s not a direct replacement to 4G but once it is adopted by mobile networks, it will dramatically increase the speed of downloads — a six minute download on 4G will now be just 3.6 seconds with 5G.

However, despite the excitement, it’s still not yet known when it will be widely available. 5G has been successfully tested and is planned for deployment by two major US carriers this year but it’s currently delayed by the hardware. For the most part, 5G’s appearance at CES remained theoretical but once the technology is available to consumers, its impact will be felt across many sectors.

Smart living

Smart City Living

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Smart cities are already disrupting urban spaces but the ‘smart’ will no longer be only about the outdoor city — it will also affect the home.

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly familiar part of people’s day-to-day lives. Over the last year, we have seen the rise of voice-assisted home devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. In 2018, we can expect new ways to use the products as they become increasingly intelligent, thanks to the data they’re gathering and interactivity with other devices.

CES showcased new possibilities for voice assistants with connected devices such as showers, mirrors and microwaves. It's also increasingly common for lights, washing machines and other everyday household items to have an internet connection. With even a smart toilet on display, there appears to be no end to the variety of household items that can become connected. These new developments in the smart home mean that the voice assistant is no longer alone — the number of devices it can interact with will only continue to grow.

However, the increase of connected devices and growth of data is likely to lead to greater security concerns from consumers. It’s up to technology producers to reassure users by making this a focus for 2018. We spoke to the Future of Privacy Forum last year about how smart cities can secure privacy and meet responsibilities. As smart cities cross over into people’s homes, the need for data protection will only grow.

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality Application

Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

Augmented reality (AR) is certainly not new for 2018 but we are now seeing different ways to use the technology. One of CES’s main trends for AR was the unveiling of new headsets, also referred to as smart glasses. These enable AR to work independently of smartphones.

One interesting product showcased was the 'real wear' — a wearable computer, specifically designed for industrial workers. This hands-free device gives the illusion of a 7-inch tablet screen and sits comfortably under hard hats. It is operated using voice recognition, with the software tailored to handle up to 96dBA of industrial noise.

With Google Glass revived last year for manufacturing and process industries, augmented reality has found a place in practical applications. One application shown at CES was for SimforHealth — a digital simulation healthcare training that has already been used to train more than 30,000 health professionals worldwide.

Gaming was the most obvious use for the AR technology but as CES showed, it now has a well-earned place in real-world applications. Even if While exciting innovations are still occurring in the gaming industry, AR is no longer just a toy.

Display Trends

Big Screen

The Wall Display from Samsung

Image Source: Samsung Newsroom

Among all the experimental tech, such as flying taxis and robots, TV still remained a big talking point. There were various innovations across the sector, including the rise of the big screen.

At CES 2018 we have seen TVs that are bigger and sharper than ever. Most achieved this using OLED technology but LCDs were still present. Meanwhile, Samsung pushed the big screen revolution even further with MicroLED technology and the biggest TV at the show.

Samsung’s “The Wall” is the world’s first modular MicroLED 146-inch TV. Due to its bezel-less and modular build, the TV can be constructed in any size that you desire. The screen can be altered to be smaller and could even be used to create a wall-size display for multiple spaces.

Big screen TVs at CES 2018 could not be missed — not only because of their size but also due to the scale of innovation.

8K resolution

It wasn’t just the increasing inches of displays that caught people’s attention at CES, it was also the rise in pixels. While 4K is still relatively new to many consumers, the TV industry is already celebrating the next innovation — 8K. 8K translates to an impressive 7,680 x 4,320 (roughly 3 million) pixels.

8K Resolution via AI Technology

8K delivers increased sense of depth and dimension, creating nearly 3D effect on the TV. At the moment, only Japan has upgraded to 8K broadcasts. However, those viewing an 8K TV in other countries can still see an improvement. At CES, Samsung showcased 8K TVs that use AI to upscale lower resolution content.

There is a lot of potential for the future of 8K screens. Large screens could replace home projectors, changing the standards of home cinema. Combined with technology like Samsung’s MicroLED, these screens would offer unrivaled brightness.

8K has already made an impact in DOOH signage but, as CES’s showed, it will soon be coming into people’s homes too.

Color

The benefits of quantum dot technology were once again showcased at CES as Samsung unveiled its line of QLED TVs. QLEDs use quantum dots to create brighter screens (up to 2,000 nits ), improving the color accuracy and delivering the widest color gamut possible.

QLEDs offer up to 100 percent color volume and can express all colors at any level of brightness. This enables subtle color differences to remain visible at peak luminance, resulting in a life-like picture.

Quantum Dot QLED TV

Quantum dot technology improves color performance overall but it also specifically deepens shades of black, regardless of brightness levels. All of its color innovations can also be appreciated from any angle, improving the overall viewing experience. Not only do QLEDs create a higher quality image, they also improve energy efficiency.

QLEDs can display an ultra-wide gamut of colors, and Samsung’s prototype TVs showed CES attendees just how impressive this looks.

From hyper-real TVs to new applications for AR and everything in between, CES suggests that 2018 will be an exciting year for tech and digital display innovations.