CES 2014: Mobile Tops Agenda

LAS VEGAS—While curved TV screens, Ultra High Definition TV, evolving display technologies and Internet-connected “smart” TVs will generate buzz at the 2014 International CES, the underlying context at the show will be the integration of content into technology platforms, second-screen developments, diverse interfaces and the role of cloud distribution.

The expected turnout (matching or exceeding last year’s 152,000) at the event, which runs Jan. 7–10, will have a chance to see “better pixels” (as Dolby calls its approach to new imaging technology), more autostereoscopic 3D and a dollop of mobile DTV products. They’ll hear from Tom Wheeler, in his first appearance at a major industry event since becoming Federal Communications Commission Chairman, the other four commissioners, the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission and from the CEOs of Yahoo, Sony, Cisco and Intel. More than three dozen conference tracks—some with dozens of sessions—look into digital TV, broadband expansion, music and interactivity among hundreds of other topics.

As CES-goers navigate through the 1.92 million square feet of exhibits at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Venetian Hotel and countless hospitality and demonstration suites, they’ll see more than 3,200 vendors, ranging from electronics stalwarts to month-old start-ups, especially in the “Eureka Park” innovation pavilion. CEA Integrates Social Media Into CES
LAS VEGAS —The Consumer Electronics Association will use a number of social media promotions in connection with the 2014 International CES event to assist show participants more easily navigate exhibits, spot trends and connect with friends and business associates.

CEA has set up a social media center, dubbed the “Social Media Vending Machine” and will host a “Social Hour” networking event as part of the event, which takes place Jan. 7–10. The organization will also implement a “Social Media Command Center” which will be powered by FleishmanHillard’s “black box,” an interactive, portable, human-powered technology platform that integrates business data—including traditional, digital and social conversations—into real-time insight dashboards and visualizations. This technology will be used to sift through the voluminous amount of information generated on the Las Vegas Convention Center show floor and elsewhere. Show attendees will then be able to access a touchscreen dashboard located in the Convention Center’s Grand Lobby and containing information about conversational trends and conversation streams at the show.

“With such an enormous amount of information generated before, during and after the 2014 International CES, it can be difficult to sift out the most relevant—and actionable—content and conversations,” said Darrell Jursa, senior vice president and partner of Global Emerging Media and Technology at FleishmanHillard. “By essentially making big data small, the Social Media Command Center, powered by FleishmanHillard black box, aims to change the way both attendees and non-attendees experience the energy, excitement and innovation of the 2014 CES.”

In addition to this effort, Adobe will bring social data visualizations to the CES keynote stage on Jan. 7 and 8 with graphic displays offering top social conversations and trending topics.

The CES social hour networking event is set for 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9 and will take place at the V Bar in Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel. This event is structured to provide an opportunity for the CES social media community to gather and meet face to face during the four day show.

The “Social Media Vending Machine” will be also located in the Experience CEA display in the Convention Center’s Grand Lobby. Show sponsors say that attendees who use the vending machine to issue a tweet with the official CES hashtag (#CES2014) and Twitter handle (@IntlCES) will receive a CES-branded t-shirt. And attendees who wear their t-shirts in the exhibition halls will have the opportunity to win gift cards.

“We are excited to offer our attendees the opportunity to truly become more deeply immersed in the technology conversations taking place at the 2014 International CES,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of International CES and Corporate Business Strategy.

The 2014 CES will feature more than 3,200 exhibitors spotlighting the latest consumer technology products and services across 15 product categories. Additional information about the 2014 International CES is available at CESweb.org.
—James O’Neal
“Streaming and mobile media plus the mass adoption of mobile and tablet devices” are atop the roster of trends that Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and Corp. Business Strategy at the Consumer Electronics Association, cites as attracting the greatest interest at the show. Chupka has overseen the event, which is produced by CEA, for more than a decade.

“One of the areas we see growth is motion technology and sensors, and how they are enabling additional services,” Chupka said. She points to the new “TechZones” (pavilions with a collection of companies, often small, specialized ventures) that focus on these new technologies, such as the “MotionTech” and “Wrist Revolution” zones.

Those exhibit sectors and dozens of others featuring fitness, health and personal communications services subtly underscore a significant issue for broadcasters. Many of the services rely on some sort of wireless bandwidth for connectivity, and although unlicensed spectrum serves many purposes, the ever-increasing roster of connected devices ultimately puts greater demands on, and potential interference for, legacy operations such as broadcasting.

UHDTV will be top of mind—and ever-present—during the show.

“The Ultra HD market is on the rise with increased technology, content and consumer accessibility,” Chupka said, adding that she expects dozens of vendors to show “groundbreaking” UHD technologies now that “more sets and content [are] in the market.”

Among CES conference sessions dealing with UHD is one entitled “Seeing is Believing – 3D, 4K and UHD,” produced by the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society. The “Content and Disruptive Technology Conference” will include a session on “Ultra HD Content: What Will We Watch in 2014 and Beyond?” Speakers include Chris Cookson, president, Sony Pictures Technologies; Tony Werner, executive vice president and CTO, Comcast Cable; and Tom Cosgrove, president and CEO, 3net Studios.

Sharp is expected to showcase its 8K UHD technology again, possibly joined by other companies to support Japanese broadcaster NHK’s plans to use 8K technology at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

For now, however, most manufacturers are focusing on 4K UHD, fearful of curtailing a current product for 8K, which is still at least six to seven years away from market rollout. For example, Sony Electronics President Phil Molyneux recently hinted that his company’s 4K agenda—likely to be shown at CES—will be aimed at “the premium consumer.”

“It’s clear people will want to generate their own 4K content,” Molyneux said at a recent briefing. Although Sony has not pre-announced specific products, Molyneux—who is stepping down as president of the company and will take on an advisory role effective Jan. 1—said his goal is to drive down prices for TV sets and camcorders that can capture and display 4K content.

OLED is also big at CES, although the industry is still awaiting a breakthrough to bring down the price of the ultra-slim, high-resolution technology. In the CES online “product search” database, typing the term “OLED” generates more than 800 CES exhibitors that have an OLED product. (Manufacturers are still daunted by OLED production capabilities. By various estimates, the “yield”—viable products from a production run—still hovers below 50 percent, thus making OLED screens very costly, especially in large formats.)

3D will also be on display, but with waning consumer enthusiasm, new 3DTV introductions will be sparse or invisible.

Similarly, the Mobile DTV pavilion, which promoted the debut of mDTV during the past few years, is not at CES this year, but emerging products for mobile video reception will still be on the floor. According to Daniel Bethlahmy, who works at NBCUniversal Content Distribution on Dyle Mobile TV, AudioVox will show its MobileTV receiver, and RCA/DST will exhibit a portable dual tuner TV tablet; both devices use Dyle mobile TV technology.

Dolby Laboratories is showcasing several of its imaging technologies in private suites just off the exhibit floors at both the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Venetian Hotel. Its focus will be on Dolby’s expanding imaging technologies, including no-glasses 3D and its “better pixel” concept that can deliver up to 4,000 nits of backlight from an LED panel.

CES Ups the Content Quotient
—CEA expects that the contingent of entertainment content professionals and executives in Las Vegas for the show will match or exceed last year’s 30,000. That’s about 20 percent of overall attendance, a huge group at a trade show that traditionally concentrates on retailing of home and transportable reception devices.

“Entertainment Matters,” a five-year-old program of conferences, executive tours and other events, is the centerpiece of the program that is intended to introduce production and distribution (studio and network) executives to the hardware opportunities at CES. A related “Brand Matters” program encompasses advertising/marketing issues. The keynote “Technology Innovators” session for that program features top executives from Twitter and Facebook.

CES’ mix of keynote addresses, SuperSessions and more than three dozen conference tracks offer a larger-than-ever agenda of corporate bravura, analytic insights and competitive positioning.

Digital Hollywood’s 13 sessions cover topics ranging from “The Television Ecosystem: Revenue and Strategies” to “Video Anytime Anywhere” to “Hollywood and the Digital Consumer Entertainment Experience.”

The IEEE Consumer Electronics Society is running its 32nd IEEE technical program piggybacked to CES. The agenda includes state-of-art-technology tutorials and more than 300 technical presentations from experts at companies, research laboratories and universities.

The Second Screen Summit will focus on trends in mobile viewing. Its organizers raise the promotional question, “Has the 2nd Screen Become the 1st Screen?” Other topics at the Monday conference include monetization, advertising and apps that affect broadcasters and brands.

The “StoryTech Impact!” conference will explore the five “most relevant trends” in technology and match it against audience and consumer trends. Among the events in this conference track is a session called “Changing Channels: Content Disruption, Bundling and the ‘Plussing’ of Services,” which will focus on generational experiences in cord-cutting, OTT usage and the shifting content ecosystem.

The Interactive TV Alliance is hosting a breakfast meeting on Tuesday to examine the revamped TV landscape.

—Gary Arlen

Cross-platform and multiplatform delivery—including cloud TV—is also high on the CES roster. ActiveVideo will introduce its CloudTV “AdCast” Software as a Service, which delivers targeted and interactive TV advertisements to any device for pay-TV providers, online video providers and the CE industry.

Dish, which recently closed its Blockbuster retail video subsidiary, will push ahead into digital distribution, including enhancements to its Hopper platform. The company says it will enable “more consumption and viewing.”

Elemental Technologies, a multiscreen content technology supplier, will demonstrate its full frame rate 4K Ultra HD high-efficiency video coding, via exhibits at its partners’ booths.

Orca Systems will demonstrate what it calls the “first multistandard TV receiver chip,” intended for “TV-Anywhere” applications in tablets. The CMOS-based single chip, which receives over-the-air broadcasts, includes a hybrid TV tuner with a software-configurable demodulator and would support NTSC, PAL and SECAM and digital ATSC, QAM, DVB-T/C, DTMB and ISDB-T.

For policy wonks, CES’s agenda touches hotspots beyond the spectrum smackdown. FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Wednesday afternoon on-stage conversation with CEA President Gary Shapiro will provide a glimpse of the new top regulator’s agenda. Other sessions about airwave allocation include “Spectrum Spectacular: Slicing the Nation’s Airwaves, which features officials from Google, the FCC and other organizations.

FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly will speak about “The FCC Regulatory Agenda for 2014” during the CES Innovation Policy Summit. They are expected to dive deeper into spectrum allocation, accessibility and regulatory reform.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will participate in the “Innovation: Keeping America Open for Business” Supersession. As with Wheeler, the format will be one-on-one conversation with CEA’s Shapiro on Wednesday morning.

CEA’s promotional passion for innovation and its battles in the patent and copyright realm appear during several panels. A session about “The Internet of Things and the Home of the Future” will be introduced by Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen. “Patent Litigation Reform: Who Are You Calling a Troll?” will offer a faceoff between Erich Spangenberg, CEO and co-chairman of IPNav (one of the largest “patent assertion entities”) versus advocates for patent reform.

Other policy sessions will look at “Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Electronics,” the use of electronics devices on airplanes plus several panels on energy, e-waste and “Green” standards.

More than 20 specialty awards programs and events will be featured at CES, including the CEA MoDev Hackathon and Last Gadget Standing.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will present its 65th annual Technology and Engineering Achievement Emmy Awards on Thursday evening. The recipients have already been announced, including Sony, SMPTE and Yamashita Engineering Manufacture Inc. (For-A) for “Development, Standardization And Productization of The High Definition Serial Digital Interface;” John Hey of Adobe, Netflix, TiVo, YouTube (Google) and Amazon for “Personalized Recommendation Engines For Video Discovery;” and GoPro for “Inexpensive Small Rugged HD Camcorders.” There are also awards for gesture-control systems, network DVRs and VOD ad insertion.

Variety magazine will host the “Breakthrough of the Year” Awards Jan. 9, recognizing achievements in technology, social media, film and television, sports, music and social media, among other categories.

UP Global Live will showcase entrepreneurs, investors, media and companies taking part in the Eureka Park exhibit area.

In addition to all the show floor innovation, CES itself will “look different,” Chupka said. A new contractor has been hired to revamp the layout and design of the show floor, signage and other features.

“This will help people find their way,” Chupka said. “It a cleaner design, clearer looks. We want to make it easier for people to find the exhibits they want and to enjoy the show.”

Gary Arlen, a contributor to Broadcasting & Cable, NextTV and TV Tech, is known for his visionary insights into the convergence of media + telecom + content + technology. His perspectives on public/tech policy, marketing and audience measurement have added to the value of his research and analyses of emerging interactive and broadband services. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the long-time “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports; Gary writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs.