With the holiday festivities now behind us, itís time to start the year with a clean slate, or at least a new tablet.
After various top 10 lists proclaiming the glories of 2012, itís time to start star-gazing into the year ahead.
With the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas almost upon us, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released its list of five trends to watch in 2013, namely; the future of 3-D printing, next-generation TVs and displays, the evolution of the audio market, the mobile revolution in Africa and technology in education.
Personally, I strongly agree with the first. 3-D printing will be massive. More on that below.
I yawn and roll my eyes at the second; no, most people still donít care about owning 3-D TVs or smart TVs when they can just plug in an Xbox or a Roku, please stop flogging a dead horse, CE industry.
I concur that audio will continue to evolve and grow, that is neither here nor there. Itís not so much a trend as an assessment.
As for the mobile revolution in Africa and technology in education, those donít seem specifically 2013-ish, and come across as general. Sure, there has been an ongoing mobile revolution in Africa for over a decade now, and thereís no doubt that tablets and apps are revolutionizing education, but I donít see any major catalyst for either trend in 2013.
In my mind there are three clear and important trends which emerged towards the end of 2012 and are gaining momentum pushing into 2013; 3-D printing, the maker movement, and data analytics.
Letís address 3-D printing first.
A research report by Wohlers Associates, quoted by analyst Mark Chisholm in the CEA trend list, said the market for 3-D printing in 2011 was about $1.7 billion and would reach $3.7 billion by 2015. In addition, over 23,000 personal 3-D printers and kits were sold in 2011, representing a year-over-year growth of 289.2 percent. 6,494 professional 3D printers were sold worldwide within the same time frame.
Chisholm posits that 3-D printing manufacturers will have to assess how the availability of 3-D printing will affect demand for mass production lines, noting, ďThe technology behind 3-D printing could present a lower cost of entry, eliminate segments of the supply chain and simplify R&D.
I agree with chanj that connected TV will continue to be pushed ... but I see it as a stop-gap measure until somebody figures out how to do it right.
Not only do I want to see mindless content from multiple sources, but I want to record it, back it up, transfer to other locations (ie USB key & SneakerNet), I want internet access to immediate purchase items from infomercials, I want access to additional movie information (IMDB), I want to view my camera's pictures by inserting its memory card and save it for a future slideshow and finally, I want a window in the corner for live video chat with a microphone that connects via bluetooth. A connected TV (hopefully) should be able to do this, but good luck on putting in a larger hard drive or upgrading to a higher resolution webcam, etc. It's not designed to be upgraded, it's designed to be replaced ... and I'm not changing my TV every 2 or 3 years.
The focus should be on the "Disconnected TV" and the "Connected Media Hub" ... as stated earlier, the "Connected TV" is just a stop-gap until we get it right.
IMO, "Connected TV" will continue be pushed this year. I agree with Sylvie that Apple TV, Roku, XBox, etc, can do the job. However, for those who would rather have 1 less device on the TV stand, connected TV is the choice. I can see the convenience and cleanness a connected TV is bringing on the table. I understand why Apple is ambitiously building a real Apple TV. The question is what kind of features will be attractive enough to get more attention from the regular users. I am looking forward to seeing the great things coming out from CES.
Maybe we will see a Star Trek replicator at CES 2113 :)
But seriously, even though 3D printing is still in its infancy, I think it really could be the makings of "the industrial revolution 2.0". When the right price point and capability to do more than just plastic prototypes is reached, 3D printing will spark a lot of consumer interest -- not just the "makers" and budding entrepreneurs.
Indeed, 3-D printing is limited to a handful of materials at present. And at the end of the day its really a prototyping tool. Full on manufacturing requires several kinds of systems and processes that are not yet fully automated.
Rick, I don't know if you were a Star Trek fan, but IMO, the time has not yet come for 3D printing. The problem being, 3D printing can only manufacture plastic products.
The ultimate in 3D printing would be one of those "replicators" they have in Star Trek. You give it the name of an object, even food, and it produces it. Obviously, first you have to feed it a huge assortment of raw materials.
IMHO, the center of CES is TV and the big thing in TV this year will be a move to 4k x 2k resolution TVs, supported by the new HEVC codec (MPEG-4+) at the high end.
Personally I love 3-D movies and if I was a videophile I would have a 3-D TV. With that stuff shipping, I expect the big TV makers will be showing 4Kx2K at CES as the drool-over-it display.
I think that most of the press misrepresent the purpose of the tablet market. I'd agree for sure that they will be a growing trend, but you only need to see that EE Times has quit publishing a printed edition to understand why.
For the longest time, we heard people saying that printed publications were great because you could read them on the bus or train in the morning commute, or any number of places where it was inconvenient to have a PC or laptop. That's where tablets come in. And the lighter and slimmer, the better. They are a replacement for printed media, not a replacement for PCs.
I agree that 3DTV is not going to be a big deal. From the start, it has always seemed like something the CE companies want to force-feed to consumers, rather than something created out of consumer deamnd.
As to "connected TVs," if Roku or Apple TV are even slightly successful, imagine what an unfettered connected TV could do, where you can avoid that separate box and really get unhampered Internet access. The only puzzling thing is why the CE companies can't figure it out.
Forget about using half-hearted solutions. If the CE companies can't figure it out, just connect a PC to the TV/audio system. PCs are cheap enough these days, TVs are perfectly capable of operating as large and bright PC monitors, and you won't be slavishly tied to any subscription service you don't specifically want.
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