CES (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) is a pretty interesting place. The sheer size of it makes for so many different and interesting situations that one could find something to write about, regardless of the subject matter.
The subject I’d like to talk about is trends. And I don’t mean what trends are finally here and available as products (multi-touch, waterproof electronics, etc). I mean the trends that are coming up just under the radar, right on the horizon.
See, I’ve been coming to CES for 3 years now, and you kind of get this…rhythm going, where, if you look back at years past and see the things that have come to fruition in the current year, you think to yourself “yep, I saw that comin’.” You didn’t really see it coming, or you would have predicted it and blogged about it, and now be saying “see??? I told you so!” No, it’s more like the emerging technologies aren’t a big surprise, because they are, looking back with 20/20 vision, the technologies that make sense.
It’s almost like surfing. For those of that have experienced surfing, you’re out there on the ocean, just behind the line where the waves start to crest, and you’re looking for the right wave to ride. Your body is slowly, calmly moving up and down in rhythm with the passing waves, as you look over your shoulder at the “big” waves coming in, every 7th wave or so. One catches your eye, and you start paddling, hoping it’s the right wave, and you’re in the right position. Sometimes you’ll catch that wave just right, and you’ll have an excellent ride. Other times, you’ll barely miss it, or be too early and end up hurting yourself. (yes, I’m aware that most true surfers don’t have this problem. I’m from a frickin’ land-locked state, so just go with it, mmmk?)
The real point is, the longer you’re in the water – in that specific water – you develop this sort of intuition, and you’ll end up sensing when to go, where to be, and how fast you need to be moving to catch that wave.
Welp, after 3 years at CES, I think I’m finally beginning to see those waves a little ways out. Enough so, that I can comment on them, and not look like an idiot the next year because I said something stupid like “the Notion Ink Adam Tablet is gonna be a HIT!” (I cannot confirm or deny if that is a direct quote from me or not….yes I do have an Adam rotting in my basement.)
That’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic ideas out there that I have no idea why they haven’t taken off (the USB flipper, and the Boogie Board are two worthy examples), and if I were to get emotionally caught up in them, I’d make a foolish prediction. But, there are some things, just-under-the-surface, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit as being the “hot” tech trends for CES 2014.
The one I’d like to mention in this post is: connected Smart TVs.
Yes, there some prototypes and watered-down versions available now, but what I’m talking about is true, legitimate connectivity. True communication between devices, with your TV being one of those devices, and using them in ways that just flat out make sense. Lemme shoot you some examples:
- While watching a TV show, a side story line starts to play on your phone (maybe during commercials, or a side plot)
- A well-executed choose your own adventure show, where live voting changes the story in real time, or a blu-ray movie has alternate endings or side-plots, based on what you were doing on your phone while you’re watching
- A document shows up on your iPad, that you can review and look through, that the characters on a tv show are discussing & passing around a folder with the info in it.
- A combination of #2 and #3 above, where what you look at in the “file” affects the plot line (maybe if you don’t find something in the file, neither do the characters in the show)
- “throwing” something you’re watching on TV to your tablet / smart phone, so you can keep watching it without interruption in the bathroom (Oh come on, admit it, we all do it!)
- “quick search” options, like the IMDB page for the main character, or a wiki page for the show itself on your phone, so you can answer that question “what the heck else is she in?” as you’re watching it.
- simultaneous clips / flashbacks on mobile devices, in context with the current show’s conversation.
- SMS / other notifications pop up on your TV, similar to Growl on the Mac, if your phone is docked / connected.
- TV acts as a very very large 2nd screen for your phone / tablet app (especially during commercials)
I honestly think I could come up with about 50 more, all around the same theme— Instead of the current “trend” of using your phone as a glorified remote control, the TV and the mobile device work together, simply as different outputs for the same program, that lives simultaneously on each system (aka the Nomadic Theory).
And it doesn’t have to be limited to TVs and mobile devices. Your fridge or bathroom or garage door can be interconnected. Can you imagine your TV pausing and / or recording the next 10 minutes, just because it noticed your refrigerator open? or how about your home phone / alarm / lamp going on, exactly at the same moment it happens during a suspense/horror flick? Talk about immersive…
Not all of those things will happen. None of them might happen. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see production units, or advanced concepts of more connected, smarter TV interactions at next year’s CES.
I could be completely wrong about this particularly wave on the horizon, but walking the floor and seeing the horizon, it really does feel like we should start paddling for that truly interconnected TV experience.
Happy waves, brah!