This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured hundreds of cloud-connected products and concepts ranging from home appliances to self-driving vehicles. The four-day show, which focused primarily on consumer technologies, featured some critical trends that tech companies will be focused on in 2018.
CES introduced thousands of new products to the tech world this year. Many of these products will appear on store shelves by the end of 2020. Others will never see the light of day beyond the prototypes presented on the CES showroom floor.
For enterprises and other business entities outside of Silicon Valley, a consumer-oriented show like CES offers a different type of value. It gives these businesses insight into how their customers will discover and interact with brands in years to come.
Google had a large presence at CES 2018. Its booth, which featured a large outdoor staging and advertising including having the words “Hey Google” scrawled across the side of the Vegas monorail.
Attendees interacted with dozens of Google Assistant-enabled products ranging from smart speakers to cars fitted with Android Auto.
Google Assistant is Google’s equivalent to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Google Assistant, unlike its competitors apart from Alexa, has the benefit of being completely cross-platform and readily accessible from virtually any smartphone or PC.
Across the show floor, devices from vendors of all sizes were demonstrating their ability to interact with Google Assistant. One company in particular put its product through the paces leading up to CES: Electronwheel, Inc.
The Electron Wheel, a smart wheel that converts dumb bicycles into e-bikes by installing a front wheel fitted with a motor and a wireless connection to the rider’s smartphone. To demonstrate the product’s capabilities, a rider took a bicycle equipped with the Electron Wheel to CES in a 10-day ride from New York, NY to Las Vegas, NV.
Google Assistant allows the rider to interact with the Electron Wheel by voice, controlling the level of assistance and toggling the device on and off by command. The rider doesn’t even have to glance at their smartphone.
Nvidia GeForce NOW Cloud Game Streaming
PC gaming has long had a pricey barrier to entry in its steep hardware requirements. A good gaming PC capable of playing today’s AAA titles at top resolutions and graphics quality settings will set players back a pretty penny.
This is the problem that Nvidia’s GeForce NOW program hopes to solve.
GeForce NOW is currently in beta for Mac and Windows-based PCs. The program promises players smooth, low-latency gameplay at up to 120 frames-per-second (FPS) on ultra settings streamed directly from the cloud.
By utilizing high-end hardware in the cloud, Nvidia streams the game directly to any Mac or PC.
Players wouldn’t have to invest in high-end graphics processors or CPUs to run the best titles. As long as the user has access to uninterrupted bandwidth (25 Mbps or more), they can play top games on older laptops or budget PCs just as well as they could on high-end options. All the rendering and heavy processes happen in the cloud.
At CES 2018, Nvidia showcased this new service, launching the first wave of beta testing for Windows users in North America and Europe.
Chinese tech giant Xunlei made waves at CES 2018 with its popular new OneThing Cloud, a small electronic device that utilizes idle bandwidth, storage space, and processes to create a private cloud for its user.
What set it apart from countless other private cloud devices is its rewards program, enabling users to share their spare resources with a larger cloud that Xunlei can then sell to larger entities like video streaming sites and enterprises at a rate 50% lower than traditional cloud services such as Amazon AWS.
OneThing Cloud also utilizes its unique blockchain technologies to keep these shared resources open, transparent, and safe from tampering.
When users opt to take advantage of the rewards program, they’re paid in the form of LinkTokens. LinkTokens are digital assets generated through the blockchain that users can use to access other services from Xunlei.
OneThing Cloud walked away from CES an award winner, receiving the GeekPark award for “CES Most Popular Product” and TMPTPost.com’s award for “Global Blockchain Innovation Product.”
OneThing Cloud is already widely used in the Chinese market, with 1 million users and 19 million pre-orders to date.
Cisco’s New Cloud DVR Storage Solution
Cisco has developed a strategy it calls Smart Streaming. (put a reference here, like, according to…) It’s a method for working with cloud DVR recordings that Cisco found reduces the overall storage requirement for media by 30% to 40%.
For cable providers and other companies offering cloud-based DVR service, storage is a significant factor in the cost of doing business. In the United States, these costs are considerable when you factor in a requirement that providers save a separate copy of each program for every customer, rather than one copy that is then streamed live on demand.
As more users opt for cord-cutting solutions to traditional cable offerings, companies like Hulu, AT&T, and Comcast have been offering customers a cloud-based DVR alternative for recording live TV and accessing those recordings on mobile devices such as smartphones.
Cisco’s solution involves adjusting the bitrate of each scene based on the amount of complexity in each frame. For example, a newscast with a talking head on a stationary background requires less bandwidth to transmit clearly than a sporting event where the camera is continuously panning over a large crowd of moving people.
By optimizing the bitrate to match the scene, Cisco achieved a significantly reduced the storage required, on average, for media stored in cloud DVR services. This is a method standard in the world of live video streaming, but until now, hasn’t been deployed for cloud DVR applications where storage is a considerable issue.
2018 and Beyond
Las Vegas’ annual CES is giant, four-day long showcase of consumer electronics from all corners of the world. This year was no exception.
Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, went head-to-head with Google Assistant. Brands that support content delivery and cloud services like Cisco showcased new ways of making content delivery more efficient. New cloud technologies emerged, and terms like “blockchain” became part of the regular discourse on the showroom floor.
For the world of the cloud, CES 2018 was a promising look at what is expected to be a big year.