If you’ve attended the Consumer Electronics Show for many years, your perspective can be invaluable. For Tim Bajarin, preeminent Silicon Valley analyst and President of Creative Strategies, this is his 44th CES. When he speaks, the tech industry listens. Tim joins us in the Mobile Studio to give his impressions on CES 2019. What trends does Tim notice? Which innovations will impact our future? Overall, CES 2019 is one of incremental innovation. Nevertheless, there are innovation gems that can prove to be life savers and game changers.
Trends that Matter
Of the ever-evolving innovations at CES, Tim is intrigued by those in the health area. This year he sees a strong emphasis on digital tech impacting people’s health. The Omron blood pressure watch, the first of its kind, is one of those innovations that will have huge impact. For Tim, the health care innovations are fascinating in their far-reaching effect, but also on a personal note. As more people face health issues and aging in place becomes a focus, the tech world has taken on the challenges. Stay tuned for blood pressure on the iPhone.
Ahead of Its Time
Tim recalls the flexible displays I worked on while at HP. Well, they’ve caught on and come a long way. Flexible displays are a big opportunity. LG’s rollable TV is staggering in its resolution, durability, and sheer size. The breakthrough of flexible displays is shown in multiple ways at CES, especially in television display. The use cases for others are yet to be seen. It’s incremental innovation applied in new ways that’s captured the public’s attention.
Tim and I talk about what I like to call the ‘feature war’ in the chase for ever increasing resolution displays. Although content is lacking for 4K, the TV makers are pushing towards 8K and beyond. 8K is a big deal at CES 2019. Expect to see it making a breakthrough, especially since Japan has made 8K broadcasting a requirement for the 2020 Olympics. Keep eyes out for its appearance next year.
The distinction between High Definition HDR displays and 4K is not easy to perceive. In fact, people notice the color more so in the High Definition HDR. When asked to identify the 4K display, people actually chose the High Definition HDR more often. Similar is the difference between 4K and 8K. The industry moves forward towards 12K and 16K. Are these increasing resolutions useful to consumers? The competitors in the resolution race may at some point need to reassess the needs of the consumer.
Tim talks about the medical devices that are becoming game changers. Namely, hearing aids with a fine tune audio capturing. The movement in the sound technology means lower costs to consumers for a basic health care need. Innovations of better audio-centered hearing aids are on the rise. Starkey, the leading hearing aid maker, is going the next step tying Alexa into the hearing aid. What the tech world is missing is a focus on audio. The tech industry has razor sharp focus on optics, with little attention to audio. As AR and VR grows, some attention to audio will be necessary. Starkey’s new product will tie in to AR use. The incremental transference of heightened audio is something to get excited about. No longer will the cost be daunting for the consumer. These devices will grow with you while adding more freedom.
Apple Services New Direction
Apple announced they’ll be working with major TV manufacturers to bundle Apple services iTunes and Airplay on TVs. Apple is setting the groundwork for their services, moving their services in new directions through collaborative efforts. With Apple services bringing in $10 billion a quarter, it’s becoming a dedicated focus.
Thank you to Tim Bajarin for his return to our show.
In this show, Tim and I touch on innovations in healthcare. It’s a topic close to Tim and me. For example, I’ve had to use a hearing aid for a number of years. I was given a pair from Eargo to try out. I had an opportunity to meet with the head of innovation at Starkey. It’s exciting what’s happening in hearing aid innovations.
Aging in place is becoming a focus and challenge. We’re seeing incremental innovations in this area. As consumers age, tech is addressing the needs of the aging population.
Both Tim are I skeptical about the increasing resolution feature wars. What is a feature war? Industry locks on to a feature and trains the customer to buy the product with the best offering for that feature. There may be minimal or no advantage to the upgraded feature, but it’s the hook to catch the customer. Innovators beware: don’t get caught up in a feature war. Pick your differentiation carefully.
This year is the year of incremental innovation at CES. It alternates from year to year between high impact innovation and incremental innovation. Not every company has dipped into this tick tock pattern. There are some companies at CES doing the high impact innovations. We’ll be looking at those in upcoming weeks.
If you know of a big impact innovation, let me know. Drop me a note.
To hear the interview with President of Creative Strategies Tim Bajarin at #CES2019, listen to this week's show: Incremental Innovation at CES 2019 S14 Ep49.