The changing nature of technology is on display again at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show with Internet of things devices and Web-based TV taking center stage.
Significant announcements came in the build up to the show’s first day, on Tuesday, from Dish Networks, Samsung, Volkswagen and loads of smaller private companies, some touting angel backing.
The hectic rush included a wealth of new products and services for the connected car and a second wave of consumer wearables for activity tracking and notifications, some with an obvious fashion-oriented design.
The one unifying theme was this: Rapid change in consumer technology is putting increasing pressure on old guard business models.
Among the Internet of thing devices were LED light bulbs from Sengled with built in speakers and cameras, a ZUtA Labs portable robotic printer the size of a grapefruit (it runs across the paper to print) and a keyless Bluetooth enabled padlock.
Schlage plans to release an Internet connected door lock this summer that will interface with Apple’s HomeKit and open a door with a Siri voice command. Chamberlain’s connected garage door opener let’s homeowners check remotely whether they’ve left their garage door open.
Recent shows have focused on smartphones and tablets, and last year wearables was the main draw. This year, the overarching theme is the Internet of things, said John Curran, a managing director at Accenture’s communications, media, and technology group. As the cost of sensors and connectivity has come down, an explosion of devices is underway, he said.
In the broadcast industry, where traditional business models are feeling the most stress, satellite service provider Dish Network announced a move to the Internet with a $20 a month 20-channel Web-based service including ESPN that is expected to appeal to 18 to 35 year old viewers, not the typical Dish audience. At about one-fifth the cost of typical cable TV, the offering shows “you’ve got to change with the market place,” said one Dish executive.
Television maker Samsung also stretched its business model by talking up 4K machines with improved picture quality and Web-based content, such as stats on players that pop up in small windows during sporting events. It said the machines would make use of voice and gesture controls.
Volkswagen, hoping to stay on the cutting edge of the car business, showed off a connected-car service that sends alerts to the parents of young drivers who drive faster than they should and identifies nearby restaurants for travelers. The service is to be available this year.
The carmaker laid out a more ambitious program for the future, with gesture controls and multiple touch screens coming to cars that will then use sliding multi-finger dashboard switches for volume and climate control.
General Motors for its part, said its OnStar service now includes 4G connectivity that turns a car into a mobile hotspot.
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