CES 2019 -- the famed consumer electronics show -- took place earlier this month and brought techies from far and wide to Las Vegas to preview the newest gadgets. From cars to TVs to
smart toilets, we saw wonderful innovations (and some many would consider a bit strange) -- all designed to change how we live, work and play.
Among the useful, the questionable and the bizarre, I saw three major trends emerge -- connected devices for the home 5G or next-generation network apps and services and connected cars. And all of them depend on ubiquitous fiber to work well (and be profitable).
No. 1: Connected home devices
Unsurprisingly, much of CES focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) in our homes and the array of new connected devices that will change how we live. We saw several new 8K TVs promising next-level clarity; in fact, Samsung transformed its entire CES booth to show off its high-res displays. Electric Mirror's smart mirror, linked Nest, YouTube and other apps to your bathroom or hall mirror, while startup Miku introduced a smart baby monitor that measures a sleeping baby's breathing and vitals, and connects it to an app. And on the home-safety front, a smart lock -- Elecpro -- uses 3D facial recognition and an accompanying app for security monitoring. Increasingly, these at-home devices sync with Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, adding to a connected ecosystem of artificial intelligence. Our homes are about to get even smarter.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...
With Electric Mirror's smart mirror, consumers can use an array of integrated apps and tools to arrange their hair in the latest style, ensure their home-alarm system is secured and stay up-to-date with the news, for example.
No. 2: 5G
Beyond home electronics, CES also buzzed with conversations about 5G. Verizon's CEO called 5G a "quantum leap" and AT&T's CEO dubbed it a "game changer." Next-generation wireless, promising speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G networks, likely will roll out this year or next, but the industry wasted no time showcasing what is to come. Sprint made a successful 5G call and Verizon kicked off a "5G innovation challenge" to encourage 5G-app development.
On the hardware side, Samsung showed off a 5G phone prototype, and D-Link rolled out a 5G router for the home. Yes indeed, the tech world is ready and waiting for high-speed 5G wireless.
(From BBWN Editor Alison Diana: Visit Light Reading for all the latest 5G news.)
No. 3: Autonomous vehicles
This year's CES also showed off several innovations in autonomous vehicles and connected cars. Some CES attendees arrived in
self-driving Lyfts, while others checked out
Waymo's self-driving cars. We even saw the "murder of a robot" at the hands of a self-driving Tesla.
Beyond the quirky, CES demonstrated the deep synergy between 5G and future connected cars. Ford announced it will equip its 2022 models with cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology. This system, supported by wireless 5G networks, will enable cars to "talk" to each other about approaching hazards in the road, to "see" around corners, and to detect red lights or pedestrians. John Deere also introduced a self-driving tractor with autopilot capabilities and smart sensors that will benefit greatly from 5G.
No. 4: Fiber fuels all
While fiber was rarely mentioned at this year's CES, it will support nearly every innovation at the show. As we saw, the IoT is poised to grow in 2019 and beyond. In fact, Cisco predicts there will be more than 27 billion connected devices by 2022. Homes and businesses will require huge amounts of gigabits to support these connected systems -- and fiber broadband is best suited to supply this.
Fiber supports the highest quality wireless and broadband connections and is faster and more reliable than copper, cable, DSL or wireless. Likewise, the 5G networks showcased at CES will require fiber support. In fact, the architecture of 5G demands great amounts of fiber for both fronthaul (connecting cellular network architecture to remote standalone radio heads at cell sites) and backhaul of the networks. And autonomous vehicles running on 5G also will rely on fiber networks to operate.
The techies in Las Vegas showed us the next big gadgets, but they also confirmed we will need strong, fast, reliable fiber networks to support these innovations.
— Lisa R. Youngers is President and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), the only all-fiber trade association in the Americas. Follow them on Twitter @fiberbroadband.
(Home page image source: Light Reading)