CEDIA's Tech Council Predicts the Future, Part 2

Ed Wenck | Jul 19, 2016

Dave Pedigo, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Emerging Technologies, and 16 volunteers have created the CEDIA Technology Council, a group that discusses the advances — a better term might be “jumps” — in technology. The group uses their combined knowledge to attempt to make concrete predictions regarding what’s next in the smart home industry. Their most recent project: creating a list of 100 predictions for the year 2020. If you didn’t catch the first 10, you can find them here.

Let’s pick up where we left off.

Prediction 11. Projection mapping will begin to appear on surfaces throughout the home. Julie Jacobson, Tech Council member (and Big Kahuna at  CE Pro) remembers seeing a demo at the last CES in which small, hardly-visible projectors displayed images across kitchen surfaces. In addition to providing ingredient lists and recipe instructions projected onto cabinets, images were flashed “onto a countertop, which could become hot pads on command. The hot spots would become inductive heat sources. You could interact with a video with a gesture.” This technology also offers the ability to redecorate in a hurry: Think about a distortion-free striped or plaid pattern surreptitiously projected onto a neutral-colored couch. Sick of Tartan by next Tuesday? Tap the app and make it look like blue denim.

Prediction 12. All media and games will stream directly to smart displays which become apps on walls. 
Sending the kids chasing a virtual Pikachu all over the house sounds like a pretty good way to wear ‘em out on a rainy day, right? Jacobson says that as both short- and long-throw projectors gain the ability of gesture recognition, those devices will become more and more prevalent.

Prediction 13. Full-wall video with multiscreens will appear in the home. Here’s something interesting: The first three predictions in this set of 10 all have an origin in commercial applications. This one — think of it more as digital signage than sports bar — will allow the user to have access to a wall that includes a weather app, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, the latest episode of Chopped, a Cubs game, and literally anything else a member — or members — of the family are interested in. The unintended consequences: some 13-year-old will one day actually utter the phrase, “MOM! Can you minimize your Snapchat already!?!”

Prediction 14. Adaptable and movable surfaces for video will appear. In this video you can see the concept at work. The practical application? Aspect ratios differ from medium to medium, from film to TV show; and if your name is Wes Anderson, even from shot to shot in a single film. In The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson used those ratios to depict different eras. For the action that takes place in the 1960s, the movie’s displayed in the Cinemascope ratio of 2.35:1 – which was popular then. Anderson’s ratio drops to 1.85:1 to express present day, and narrows the image further to 1.37:1 to give the film a real Golden Age of Cinema vibe. Now suppose you had a screen in your home that simply adapted its physical shape to the aspect ratio of whatever you’re watching. Anderson’s film would wind up devoid of black bars on your adaptable screen. And that physical adjustment would apply to anything, whether it’s an NFL game, House of Cards or some Technicolor Hollywood epic. Say goodbye to letterboxing forever.

Prediction 15. Television screens could also take the form of movable tiles.
 Tile TV 2.0 will be a screen that doesn’t fog up in the shower.

Prediction 16. High-res immersive video will become standard. The home theater will soon become a 360-degree experience for both the eyes and the ears. Those who’ve worn high-end VR goggles know what a wild experience the visuals provide even at this nascent stage — by 2020, you’ll feel like you’re really IN the movie, no headset required.

Prediction 17. Immersive audio will require fewer speakers. “Gone are the days where you really need seven surround-sound speakers for 7.1 systems,” notes Jacobson. Primitive soundbars — wedging left and right directional speakers around a center-channel — were the first iterations of this concept, along with quality single speakers that could virtually provide a stereo sound image.

Prediction 18. Immersive personal audio will soon follow suit. Yep, headphones that create an illusion that sound is occurring at a point in a virtual sphere surrounding the user’s head is coming — along with the aforementioned 11.1.4 system that’ll pop out of a single box.

Prediction 19. Physical media will be analog only. As digital streaming services and platforms begin to satisfy even the pickiest audiophiles, you’ll see pricier vinyl. Pressers can’t begin to keep up with current demand for albums. (This, by the way, means the return of album cover art, which is great news for Rockers of a Certain Age.)

Prediction 20. The end of (most) free TV: linear TV will be reduced to news and sports. For every episode of House of Cards you binge-watched, some ABC exec poured a healthy belt of 12-year-old Scotch. And cried a little. On-demand TV content producers have proven that consumers will pay for the privilege of watching whatever whenever you please, and the big holdouts among the cord-cutters have been sports fans. That’s where the exceptions hit: Broadcast television will hang around for two kinds of content: breaking news (“THE TWISTER IS COMING!”) and real-time sporting events (“THE CUBS ARE LOSING!”).

Stay tuned (see what we did there?) for Predictions 21-30, in which the mirror in your bathroom becomes smarter than you.