CEDIA’s Tech Council — 16 CEDIA members and CEDIA’s Senior Director of Emerging Technologies Dave Pedigo — hammered out 100 things they think will happen (or become pervasive) by 2020. We’ve been parsing them down and (hopefully)
explaining them in handy chunks of 10; here are predictions 71-80.
Today’s post is brought to you by the letters and numbers USB-C, AI, and ATSC 3.0.
Prediction 71. USB-C will be the dominant carrier between devices regardless of media. Because
it’s twice as fast as USB 3.0, getting your stuff from Thing 1 to Thing 2 will be breezier — all in a package that’s not just skinnier, YOU NEVER HAVE TO CONCERN YOURSELF ABOUT FLIPPING THE THING OVER FOR IT TO FIT PROPERLY. (True
story: Your Humble author once witnessed Neil DeGrasse Tyson fumble with a thumb drive in this very manner.)
Prediction 72. ATSC 3.0 will bring 4K as well as immersive and interactive audio into the home, distributed via Wi-Fi. Yes,
even though the old TV antenna (“old?” We just referred to the most recent over-the-air antenna as “old”) will need a converter box, that “funny-looking thing on the roof” (as Tech Council stalwart Mike Heiss calls
it) may suddenly become the gateway for the most current generation of content distributed through the home. Heiss expands on the coming upgrade, noting that unlike the original analog-to-digital TV changeup, “There won’t be any federal
support for people buying converter boxes — but it will deliver some significant benefit. The challenge is that it will dramatically change the in-home infrastructure of television.” That infrastructure (especially for television sets
that aren’t 3.0-ready out of the box) could be configured thusly: antenna on roof pulls in a monster signal and said signal is distributed through a gateway device to every set in the house via Wi-Fi.
Prediction 73. Embedded microphones will be in most surfaces. You
want something done? Just talk to it: “Turn that on! Turn that up! Heat the couch! Cool the ottoman! Rosie, walk the dog!” But when you couple those embedded mics with small cameras …
Prediction 74. Gesture recognition complements voice control. “We
can do really awesome gesture control if we couple gesture with voice,” says Alex Capecelatro, Tech Council member and CEO of JStar. “If I say ‘Open that,’ and I point at a shade or say ‘Turn that on,’ and point
a TV or a light, the camera coupled with the voice is going to make that just really natural.”
Prediction 75. We’ll see ubiquitous sensorization. A June 2015 article from eetimes.com quoted the CEO of French research
and analytics firm Yole Development predicting that the sensor market would nearly double in value from its 2014 levels by 2020. The caveat: As sensors get cheaper, the jump in market valuation — from just over 11 billion bucks recently
to 20 billion in 2020 — means that “value” doesn’t equal sheer numbers of sensors shipped. The latter will be vastly larger – in fact, we’re talking 30 billion units. EETimes' Peter Clarke: “The expected growth is expected to come from the ‘sensorization’ of people's lives in wearables, the Internet of Things, medical electronics and in the automotive industry with autonomous vehicles as a target.”
“WE’RE GOING TO SEE A LOT OF THE BIG TECH COMPANIES GETTING INTO THE HOME AUTOMATION SPACE."
Prediction 77. Dedicated tablet and touch-screen-as-control devices decrease within the home.
Prediction 76. Wireless charging without the need for a base will be pervasive — but it will require a tower. Capecelatro directs us to a startup called “uBeam” to explain this mindbender. According to that company’s
homepage (ubeam.com): “It all starts with a wave of sound. It VIBRATES the air so fast, you can’t hear it or feel it. uBeam
harnesses energy from the vibration. The energy is then converted into electricity, charging your device.”
The key word in this one
is “dedicated.” “As we get towards 2020, I think the idea of having this dedicated smart-touch device on a wall that’s not also a TV or also your refrigerator or also your windows or whatever is really going to go away,”
says Capecelatro. (This dovetails nicely with the predicted preponderance of smart glass we explored back in Part Three of this series.)
Prediction 78. We’ll see the rise of people-learning automation. “The home is going to be consumed with more AI products, and by AI, I really mean machine learning,” explains Capecelatro. “The system’s going
to learn my preferences versus the kids’ preferences versus a guest’s preferences versus whoever.” For more on this concept — and more on “VUI” (Voice User Interface) replacing GUI and then morphing into NOUI, check
this recap of Capecelatro’s talk at CEDIA 2016.
Prediction 79. There will be a proliferation of new companies coming into the CEDIA channel. Capecelatro notes that there are two things happening within this prediction:
first, established companies — big ones — are entering the channel. Amazon turning up at CEDIA 2016 in Dallas is a great example. “We’re going to see a lot of the big tech companies getting into the home automation space,”
he explains. “But I think we’re also going to see just a huge emergence of startups. Look at all the Kickstarter projects: It seems like with a lot less money and a lot less resources, people are going to be able to build companies from
scratch in this space.” Capecelatro is convinced that Innovation Alley at the CEDIA show will be chewing up a lot more real estate on the show floor, and soon.
Prediction 80. Crowd funding will be the primary source of funding for startups. And
yes, your capital is already out there, O Great Thinker of the Next Big Idea — sitting in small amounts in the wallets of hundreds — thousands? — of micro-investors. And if we combine the KickFundMes of the world with 3-D printing
and social media … well, you’ll just have to wait for Prediction 81 for more on that, dear reader.