CES 2019 Brings Welcome Technology Buzz

By Francis J. Gorman

Amid tariff disputes, political gridlock, and a government shutdown, the promise and optimism of the technology that will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week in Las Vegas is a welcome relief. Here’s a preview of CES 2019 and
the most interesting technologies, conferences, and speakers on the schedule.

5G. The biggest buzz is likely to be about 5G, the fifth-generation wireless cellular technology that will be released this year. 5G is so powerful and fast that it will be ubiquitous when it takes hold, so prevalent that there are debates in some quarters whether it will drive out the need for Wi-Fi networks. Wireless carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are exhibitors, and there is no doubt they will be touting their 5G capabilities.

Artificial Intelligence. AI will be more prominent in products and systems on display. AI and virtual reality appeared at CES several years ago, and AI especially has captured the imagination of innovators and designers. Voice Recognition, a form of AI, will be in lots of new products because it is easier to speak to a device what you want rather than type it, click it, or push it. The new wave of voice recognition software is greatly improved.

Google. While mentioning AI, Google will be at CES 2019, only its second appearance ever, and will have a substantial presence. Google Assistant is challenging Alexa, and Google continues to expand beyond services with more products incorporating the power of Google algorithms.

Mercedes. The automobile industry is now a mainstay at CES, and Mercedes-Benz will be a new addition this year. As in previous years, outside the Convention Center manufacturers will offer test drives of vehicles with driverless technology, assisted parking, and other nifty electronic features.

Blockchain. One of the topics that will appear for the first time is Blockchain which was developed in 2008 to be the ledger for bitcoin. There are several hundred Blockchain-related patents. In its simplest terms, Blockchain is a digital ledger that records cryptocurrency transactions on multiple computers/servers such that altering the record on one computer will alter the record on all computer. Blockchain is drawing interest from the business community because of its ability to give transparency to various business concerns, such as supply chain information which these days has become quite complex. Blockchain will be exhibited and discussed in the “Digital Money” category, and exhibitors will include Blockchain Certified Data, Just Mining, and TransChain.

Improved Familiar Products. There will be plenty of innovations to very familiar products. There will be on-demand laptops that seldom need to be charged and are always connected to the Internet. There will be 8K television, continuing the march to even greater resolution. Also, look for more self-diagnostic medical devices and more complex and multi-tasking robots.

Keynote Addresses. There are impressive Keynote addresses, featuring several female speakers, correcting a shortcoming at previous shows. On Monday evening, Dr. I. P. Park of LG Electronics will speak about AI. On Tuesday morning IBM Chair and CEO Ginni Rometty will speak about “quantum technology” that turns quantum mechanics into practical applications. On Wednesday morning Dr. Lisa Su of AMD will speak about next the generation of computing that will be built into a wide variety of products.

Of special note for Baltimore, Maryland, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh will be a featured speaker at the Smart Cites conference “What’s Next for Transportation in the Smart City” on Thursday afternoon, January 10, at the Westgate.

Attendance. It could be down given the current trade tensions and strains on economic relationships. On the other hand, hundreds of Chinese companies will be exhibitors at CES 2019 despite the current U.S.-China tariff disputes. Indeed, just counting the Chinese exhibitors with “Shenzhen” as the first name produces nearly 400. My bet is any reduction in attendance will be negligible.

International Impact. Over the years, the scope of CES has grown from displaying portable radios and TVs in 1947 to introducing cutting-edge technologies used by consumers, businesses, universities, and governments throughout the world for just about everything. The full scope of today’s leading technologies will be at CES 2019.

The show starts Monday evening, January 7, with the first keynote address and ends on January 11. You can learn more about CES 2019 at ces.tech.