CES Takeaways, Part Two

Ed Wenck | Jan 14, 2021


There’s a fundamental problem with trade shows like CES when they’re forced into the virtual world, and it’s likely pretty obvious: You can’t really experience the beautiful, brilliant display with the rich deep blacks or the mind-blowing headphones with their fantastic audio imagery. You can’t examine the heft and craftsmanship of the new product from some company you’ve never heard of – you’ve no idea if the quality of the pitch matches the quality of the product.

You’re left, instead, with a variety of marketing messages -- some downright brilliant, don’t get me wrong -- that begin to become a bit numbing in their sameness. (Yes, we know, 2020 made the home even more important for both work and respite.)

Now the upside:

The ability to attend – and even re-attend – a presentation or product launch or panel discussion at the time of your choosing is nothing short of tremendous. Pausing a pre-recorded session for a cup of coffee or a bio-break is marvelous, and if you’re tasked with writing about said presentation, the ability to “rewind” for a precise quote is quite the luxury. (Insert Forrest-Gump-waving-GIF here.)

Having said that, let’s pick up where we left off in Part One.

Another Big Player

Sony is matching a trend we’ve seen with other companies such as LG and Samsung: They make gadgets, and they create content to use on those gadgets. They’re still touting their next-gen console (perhaps you heard they released the PS5 in November?), but they’re also stressing their work on devices that help content creators. Chief among these is Airpeak, a camera drone that optimizes its performance and stability with AI that unlocks even more cool images with less piloting skill on the ground. They’ve entered the spatial headphone arena with their 360 VME (Virtual Mixing Environment) that mimics a variety of multi-channel audio formats, and they’re rolling out massive LED screens to create truly immersive entertainment and gaming environments.

They’re also blurring the line between those last two segments: Their game “The Last of Us” will become a drama found on HBO’s platforms. (It’s been done before, but the show looks more like game-play than others we’ve seen.)

A fascinating panel discussion (and there are hours upon hours of these available on-demand) was titled “The Power of AI,” hosted by Jeremy Kaplan (editor-in-chief of Digital Trends) and featured Eric Cornelius (chief product architect, Blackberry), Kevin Guo (CEO, Hive), and Bridget Karlin (global managing director, CTO, and VP, IBM).

AI Is Better Than People

For Cornelius, “AI is better than people” when it comes to identifying malicious code – it’s a fantastic cybersecurity tool. “We can amass huge, curated data sets with billions of training files. It really shines when it comes across an unknown threat – malware we hadn’t seen before. It picks up those patterns and identifies it.”

Karlin notes that the sci-fi concepts of AI are rapidly becoming overturned. “It’s not magic, not mystical,” she says. “It’s a very effective way to improve predictions; improve automation, and improve optimization.” (Think of AI upscaling a display image, for example.) “It’s been used to accelerate clinical trials, fix supply chains, curate learning content – we are just now leveraging the huge amounts of data and the increased power of computing to our benefit.” Karlin also sees great opportunity for AI to monitor infrastructures which can then be completely “self-healing.”

For Guo, we’re now in something of the second-generation of artificial intelligence. “With old school AI, back in the early 2000s, the technology was just about ‘prediction math’ – now we’re into deep learning: Understanding what’s in a photo, powering self-driving cars, and more under-the-hood stuff (like what his colleagues had noted) that consumers don’t see.

“it’s now thinking more like a human.”