RIP CEA! Long Live CTA!

By Norbert Hildebrand
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The biggest news at CES Unveiled in New York was the new name the CEA is using from now on. Gone is the ‘Consumer Electronic Association’ with the new name being CTA (Consumer Technology Association), nevertheless the CES event will remain the CES. It looks as though the CEA/CTA did not want to mess with the biggest brand it has created.

The upcoming CES 2016 will be the largest show in the history of the show, with more exhibition space and more exhibitors than ever before. On the other hand, the CTA is working on keeping the number of visitors at the same level as last year (record of 176,000 visitors) as the show is becoming too big. They fear that more people would affect the cost of airfares and hotel rooms, trends they already see developing. Keep in mind we are talking here about Las Vegas, a major hotspot for vacationers around the globe, which eliminates almost all other locations for holding this show in the future. (although Dubai may have a similar number of hotel rooms after 2020, although a lot fewer “entertainment” opportunities – Man. Ed.)

CTS 1

With the name change CTA is now adding a significant number of companies in the content, internet and other technology fields to their existing membership. This broadens the scope of the association significantly and may lead to internal disagreements among members depending on their position in the value chain.

CTA provided a forecast for the upcoming holiday buying trends and expects a steady number of people to plan on buying Holiday gifts in general and CE devices in particular. The number of US adults planning on buying technology gifts this year is actually increasing slightly (from 63% to 65% in 2015), promising a holiday season on par or slightly better than last year. The CTA also sees holiday spending increasing slightly by 2.3%, which would be in the range of the inflation rate.

The five biggest categories for holiday spending will be smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, laptops and desktops in that order. The biggest chunk of the money spent will be going to smartphones with $53.6 billion followed by the tablets with $22.5 billion, which is down from last year.

CTA also sees smartwatches and wearable activity trackers growing strongly in terms of buying intent (answered “yes” and “maybe” to the question) for the coming holidays. While in 2014 the smartwatches and wearables were on the buying list of only 7% of respondents, this number has almost doubled to about 12% for 2015.

For the video category they foresee a slight downturn in interest, but, nevertheless, TVs will still remain the strongest category slightly ahead of Blu-ray and DVD players. The good news is that the interest in TVs translates into more 4K / UHD set sales together with higher expectations for screen sizes over 65”. Internet connection is almost a given with 78% of TV sales being forecasted to include this feature.

This also leads to an uptick in the CTA 2015 forecast for 4K / UHD TV sales in the US. The original forecast was 4.447 million units for 2015. Now they expect this number to be over 5 million units for 2015 based on the increased interest in UHD sets.

Another interesting point for UHD TV is the expected announcement of UHD Blu Ray discs for 2016. We may hear more about this at the upcoming show. Nevertheless, they already teased two releases as shown below. As it seems the logo is already set in stone in favor of the CTA nomenclature.

CTS 2

The CTA also published their view of the future technology development under the title – Digital Destiny. They see the consumer electronic landscape changing at an ever increasing pace. This is mostly driven by small and innovative companies that push new ideas into the market. The drivers for this development are

  • ambient sensing
  • aggregated learning
  • the building out of ecosystems and
  • actuation.

These trends can be best described as the consequences of the increasing number of sensors used in all kind of devices, gadgets, cars, appliances, etc. Combining the information from these sensors can lead to very powerful ecosystems, for example in the health or in transportation. The last field describes the how all this information can be used to build better gadgets and devices in the future.

Other than that, the CTA also announced the extension of its new product marketplaces at the show as well as more emphasis on start-up companies and crowd-funding. In other words, there will be more gadgets for the people. In order to extend this area, some of the areas have been moved to locations outside the Convention Center with buses now running between the various locations. It should be a very interesting CES coming up!

Part of CES Unveiled is also a small reception area where some selected manufacturers show their latest and greatest developments. Overall, it appears that display technology by itself is becoming less and less of a focal point. Display are are just one part of a larger solution that provides a new experience to the consumer. Displays are important, but the time when people are just in awe about the newest TV from a manufacturer seems to have come to an end.

While displays are often part of the new devices they are not the key item. Products where the display is the most relevant component were few and far between. Here is a short overview.

E Ink

E Ink showed a new version of its conference assistant that it is developing together with Visionect. While this is just an update to the existing version, it still showcases that electrophoretic displays can bring a lot to specific low power applications. They also see an uptick in E Ink displays used in electronic shelf labels. While this seems to be great application for this display technology, cost concerns have hindered their dominance in this market. Nevertheless they do see an uptick in the demand for this application. (We heard at Gitex that segmented LCDs are less popular now because of the problems of showing barcodes etc and once you get to fully graphic LCDs, E Ink becomes a much better solution – Man. Ed.)

E Ink

Memento

Do you remember the so called “digital picture frame” (DPF) that allowed people to download their images on a picture frame that contained enough electronics and memory to store the images? The LCD would then show a single image or a slide show of images to the consumer. Memento showed now a version of this on steroids. The 25″ or 35″ displays come with UHD resolution and allow the user to download their images via smartphone and an app. They also thought about the power cable and have made one that is flat, thin and paintable.

Memento

Bosch

We have talked about the new haptic display from Bosch before, now I had a chance to actually touch one for myself. The display is aiming at the entertainment center in the car. The haptic feedback actuator (electromagnetic type) has two main functionalities. First, if your finger scans over the surface, the touch button on the screen will slightly vibrate telling the user if he is indeed engaging with the button or not. The second function is that, after pressing the button, the haptic feedback lets you know that the chosen function has indeed been activated. The feedback strength is adjustable and was clearly detectable. As a matter of fact, at the highest level it felt like an old fashioned typewriter. Overall the system performed surprisingly well. (NH)

Bosch haptic display ep