Year after year, the CES shows a certain consistency: the Intel booth is placed at the entrance, that of Sony at the bottom and between, a plethora of giant televisions. Will the 2018 vintage be different? A priori not really. Yet, if we go back just three years back, we realize how the high-tech landscape has changed. That's why, before putting our suitcases in Las Vegas and giving you the program of the festivities of this 2018 edition of the CES, we have drawn up a list of 12 questions that we hope will find answers to enlighten us on the trends of the next 12 months.
Who to compete against Alexa?
Amazon's voice assistant Alexa was the grand winner of the 2017 CES, garnering an impressive list of partnerships and compatible devices. The platform finished the year with record-breaking sales across the Atlantic for the Echo Series loudspeakers of several tens of millions of units. Google Assistant is currently best placed with its Google Home and the monumental park terminals Android, Siri (Apple), Bixby (Samsung) or even an outsider will manage to exist against what looks more and more like operating system of the connected home?
Is Google there to win?
Google has already made good progress on the anti-Alexa front and Google Home have made a nice card for the holidays, helped by the Mini version less than 60 €. LG has pre-advertised connected speakers, sound bars and TVs compatible with the Google Assistant that we will see at CES. This completes the agreements already concluded last year with Sony, JBL and Mobvoi. But will that be enough? And will Google, which has a booth at CES for the first time since 2015, have something more substantial to show us?
Can Intel counter Qualcomm and Nvidia?
Present in all key areas, from the autonomous car to the bitcoin mining doped by its graphics chips, Nvidia will capitalize on a big 2017 in a pre-CES conference that will will hold Sunday. Qualcomm for its part does not seem intimidated by his legal battle with Apple. The company has already unveiled its new Snapdragon 845 that will certainly be found in all high-end smartphones this year and even in Windows laptops that promise a record autonomy.
And Intel in all this? 2017 was marked by a series of renunciations and cancellations; Intel Developers Forum, Project Alloy virtual reality headset, Recon Jet connected glasses and Basis connected accessories division. While the PC market is still stagnant, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is expected to take advantage of his CES speech scheduled for Tuesday to focus on the strategy towards mobile and in particular 5G.
Where are TVs and Display Technologies Going?
There was a time when the main event of CES was to know which manufacturer was going to present the biggest flat screen. But consumers have shunned some "innovations" such as 3D TVs and curved screens while lower prices has helped to trivialize high-definition screens. The CES 2018 will bring us its share of prototypes (transparent, double-sided, foldable, 8K ...), but the heart of the battle remains between the Oled technology and the LCD which continues to progress with the local dimming and quantum boxes. Not to mention the projectors with models even more affordable and powerful.
What will be the next earthquake that will shake the media landscape?
Shockwave caused by Disney's announcement of Fox's takeover still shakes Hollywood while AT & T's takeover of Time Warner still has to navigate uncertain regulatory meanders of the Trump administration. On December 12, the US telecom policeman, the FCC, voted for the death of net neutrality, embarking on what is likely to be a long and winding road through federal courts and US state legislatures.
These events will not give rise to any particular announcement at the CES, but they will fuel discussions between hardware and media decision-makers in hotel suites, conference rooms, bars and restaurants. It will be about alliances in a world increasingly partitioned around the applications of streaming and services and which abandon the satellite and cable packages.
What about the 5G in 2018?
The truly compatible 5G mobiles, those that will no longer need 4G LTE, will not arrive at best until 2019. But this year we should see at least two alternatives to make us wait: Gigabit LTE and fixed Internet offers based on 5G. The first, which offers a theoretical throughput of up to 1 Gbit / s is already available in some areas of the United States and works with compatible terminals such as Galaxy Note 8. In Europe, Monaco Telecom has adopted the LTE Gigabit and other operators should follow later this year. Fixed 5G internet is a substitute for cable or fiber connections and is expected to be available in 5 markets in the US by the end of 2018. Will the CES be the opportunity for new deployment announcements or 5G hardware? ?
When Will Battery Technology Significantly Become Better?
Are medical grade wearables ready for the big jump?
The Fitbit, Garmin and Apple Watch are all very useful for measuring heart rate, number of steps and other basic physical activities. But more advanced devices that can have a life-like impact, such as those that measure atrial fibrillation or specific blood constants, need to be endorsed by health authorities, such as the US Food and Drug Administration. Thanks to the pre-certification program put in place in 2017 by the FDA, this year could see the arrival of several medical-grade devices on the market. It is also expected that the concept of connected health will expand to new products such as sleep bands or the Willow breastpump seen last year.
The CES stronger than Detroit for the automobile?
Thanks to a quirky programming, the CES ends the day before the opening of the North American International Auto Show, the automotive grand-mass in the US. Suffice to say that the competition between the two events is increasingly fierce when it comes to ads for autonomous vehicles, electric, concept car and other embedded systems. At CES, Ford President Jim Hackett will speak at a keynote while Kia, Toyota, Hyundai, Renault / Nissan / Mitsubishi, Byton, Nvidia and Mobileye will make announcements.
What can we expect from the PC and tablet side?
In addition to the new Windows laptops equipped with Qualcomm processor, we should see the first equipment using EMIB technology (Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge) which combines an Intel processor and a Radeon graphics chip from AMD. More classically, we will also have ads at Acer, Asus, Dell and HP. We also hope that Razer will surprise us with another concept even more delusional than his three-screen laptop seen last year.
Virtual reality and augmented: a rival against Oculus Go and Magic Leap?
2018 for virtual and augmented reality will be marked by the arrival of new Magic Leap and Oculus. Apple and Google are focusing on augmented reality on mobiles with ARKit and AR Core platforms for iOS and Android. Who to compete? It will keep an eye on HTC, Intel and Qualcomm and other small businesses that populate the alleys of CES. We should probably discover new technologies (accessories with feedback, improved display, progress in the detection of gaze), an emphasis on autonomous headsets like the Oculus Go and connected toys like the Star Wars AR Jedi Challenges from Lenovo.
And the robots?
We saw a lot of robots at CES 2017, but most did not last long after the show. Here are our two questions for this 2018 edition: will we finally see real consumer robots marketed before the end of the year? And will they be able to do anything other than mow the lawn and vacuum?