CES 2019: BBC Blue Room Report

This January, the BBC Blue Room sent me out as one half of a dynamic duo tasked with reporting on the world's largest consumer electronics trade fair - CES. Held each January in Las Vegas, CES sees technology companies and press from across the globe gather to witness the latest and greatest inventions and innovations.

The BBC Blue Room's job is not to write up articles for use on the BBC's press pages, instead we gather information and contacts that will help us provide insight to the BBC about the direction consumer and emerging technologies are going in. In short, what tech is going to affect the BBC, its competitors, or its audiences?

It is always a tremendous privilege and a hefty responsibility going to trade shows and producing all the words, images and insights needed to make sure the BBC gets the inside track on what really is going on with tech. The intelligence we gathered at CES is meant for an internal audience, so I can only provide a tech summary and some quick pics;

  • Consumers can already buy 8K Super-Hi vision displays. As happened with Ultra Hi-Def 4K, the vendors are working hard to find the content for these amazing TVs, they know it’s not going to come from traditional content-makers in the near future.
  • Advances in high frame rate and variable refresh rates will come to benefit sport and e-sport.
  • Artificial Intelligence applied to the Television remains one to watch. The broadcast chain may find practical benefits sooner than users will find them.
  • 3D displays that do not require headsets may come to transform the workplace, gaming and maybe even the mobile viewing experience.
  • Self-driving cars work. What will this mean for passengers riding inside them who can now concentrate on something other than the road, and who may need entertaining?
  • Humanoid robots are still unsettling and continue to have very little purpose. Robots with ‘narrow’ and specific uses will appear first.
  • Miniaturisation is starting to make smart glasses a realistic replacement for today’s bulky VR & AR headsets, but there is still a long way to go before they become mainstream.
  • Audio can also be augmented. Will this provide new ways to extend the audience experience?
  • 5G will also be transformative ... but not yet.

The two main takeaways which I probably can share are that;

  • The role of assistants in content discovery will exacerbate the disintermediation that the traditional broadcasters already face from platform operators.
  • The advancements in computer vision, while amazing, will also raise profound ethical questions that need addressing.

These few pics do not do CES any justice, the sheer size of it and the number of locations that we had to cover were staggering - it took a whole seven days to cover everything we needed! But it was well worth the effort, and I look forward to (hopefully) doing it again...