March 16, 2012

2012 CES and Looking Forward to the 2012 NAB Show

I have a 2012 CES Show five minute documentation video here that highlights key technologies/trends that are especially relevant to Media Professionals.

The most overused buzz words at this years show were “Smart”, “Cloud” and “Ecosystem.” It seemed like everyone was pitching some sort smart media systems, claiming to have an ecosystem of seamless sharing of content between all of your home, vehicle and mobile devices via their cloud services. This hype stems from an all out war for control of your entire media ecosystem. CE manufacturers want to provide you with their integrative solutions and gateways to then curate of all of your content consumption across all of your devices/platforms. Providing consumers with “anything, anytime, anywhere” is the promise… but it has yet to be delivered.

One Achilles heel in all this content/technology ubiquity is the issue of DRM (digital rights management). The studios and CE companies have a dismal track record at devising and employing workable DRM. The numerous attempts at DRM over the past thirty years have done little more than inconvenience the bad guys, who inevitably release hacks and workarounds within days. Meanwhile, poorly designed DRM schemes can penalize paying customers to the point where they too start using hacks to circumvent the ill-conceived DRM that needlessly interferes with their content consumption flow.

4K video resolution is beginning to proliferate in the consumer realm, with JVC introducing a $5000 4K camcorder, the GY-HMQ10.

And there was the buzz about the new the 55” OLED displays, especially Samsung's, as well as Samsung’s "Smart Evolution" line of Smart TVs (including prototype with gesture control, voice control and with facial recognition).

And Moving Forward…

My Feb 17, 2011 post on this blog entitled "When AR Gets Serious" I described how lightweight flexible “smart” glasses will provide a convenient next-generation platform for mobile personal computing, once the technology is appropriately miniaturized, and the display configuration is worked out. Google appears to be getting closer to bringing this technology to the mass market with the recent announcement of an Android-powered Google Glasses product, to be available later this year. Last year during a small Augmented Reality sales event at Total Immersion's offices in Los Angeles, Google gave an overview of how their work on Google Goggles in their X Offices would eventually lead to a consumer AR glasses product. I still predict, as I did in February 2011, that wearing some form of smart glasses will soon become at least as ubiquitous as wearing ear buds. In fact probably more of a necessity... as carrying a smart device is today. And then it will be on to the embedding of such technologies.

In my 2012 CES video I looked at the explosion of apps and peripherals for tablets and smart phones at… 80,000 square feet of them in the North Hall “iPavilion.” Expect to see increasing growth in novel apps and outboard interfaces that leverage smart devises. One example is how retailers are adapting to shoppers who increasingly prefer interact with their iPads rather than with store clerks. Nordstrom, Macys and C Wonder are among firms offering apps (via store-wide wifi) to enhance the in-store shopping experience (NYTimes 3/9/12).

Expect to see an increase in 4K technologies foisted upon consumers, especially at the 2013 CES. 4K is already widely used in professional film/video workflows, so expect the 2012 NAB Show to have a variety of new and improved 4K hardware and software solutions. What about the the future of 8K, as in the NHK prototype system system shown by Sharp at 2012 CES? It was stunning... the best moving pictures I've ever seen. But not likely to be seen anywhere in the consumer realm in the near, or not-so-near future. But I do expect it as a potential next level of "super-digital" for the more exclusive high-end digital cinema installations down the road. We'll see how it unfolds at the Technology Summit on Cinema conference April 14 & 15 at NAB next month, and on the show floor.