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Letter From The President: Tomorrowland is Today at CES

Letter From The President: Tomorrowland is Today at CES

Dear Reader,

What’s the best part about Las Vegas? Is it the world-class dining, the nightlife, the celebrity performers? For me, it’s the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held each year in January. It’s getting a glimpse of what our homes and workplaces will look like in the future. I’m old enough to remember the Monsanto “House of the Future” exhibit at Disneyland. It was so exciting to think that, one day, we’d have a television set in every room! And an all-electric kitchen! Being at CES is like being in that old Disneyland exhibit – seeing things that are tantalizingly close, but not quite ready for prime time.

Rendering of Disneyland's Monsanto "House of the Future" Circa 1956

A few years ago, curved video displays stole the show. That year, everything was curved – from living room displays, to smartphone displays, to wearable fitness devices. Another year, it was 4K displays, with unbelievable video resolution. You could see every hair on that bumblebee’s leg! And each snowflake! Hover boards made their debut one year. 3D printers got their start. The first year, they actually printed a plastic bust of Yoda, right before your eyes! They got better the second year, printing useful things, like bicycle parts. One year, CES did a retrospective on all the technology that was first shown there, including compact discs, camcorders, DVDs, HDTV, and internet gaming, to name a few.

This year? In 2019, we saw 5G, the latest generation of mobile communication, with its high data rate, energy savings, and massive connectivity potential. We saw 8K ultra-high definition displays (sorry, 4K! You’re SO last year). 8K pixels are indistinguishable to the human eye when viewed at a typical distance from the display. And some video displays were so sharply curved that they nearly seemed folded back on themselves.

Two things really caught my eye at this year’s show. One was a self-driving wheelchair that maneuvers its human passenger around obstacles in their path. The other was a new technology that allows a video display to be created from micro LED video “tiles”, each 1” x 1”, and built into any existing space. In other words, no preset aspect ratio. Have an extra space you need to fill?

Put in these video tiles. Presto! Instant ultra-high-def display, wherever you like.

Of course, the show is very crowded, and there are long lines to see some of the most popular items. Sony showcased a new 360-degree sound technology in a demo booth. Being a music aficionado, I wanted to experience it, but the line was about an hour long. There was more visible security this year than I recall, with dozens of uniformed police roaming the exhibit halls with their trusty K9 units alongside. The monorail serving the convention center was packed each day. Show visitors are generally patient and polite, although the backpack crowd started getting on my nerves. 
Don’t they know they take up about twice their regular space? They turn around quickly and - wham! – someone gets smacked. (Usually me).

To me, CES is worth the hassle and expense. For a few days, I’m a kid again, looking at what the world will be like when I grow up. It’s not fine art, it may not help save the whales, but it sure is a lot of fun. And fun is what Las Vegas 
is all about, right? 

Mark Osterstock
President, Q-Mark Manufacturing Inc.

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