More than two weeks after attending CES in Las Vegas and one thing remains on my mind: Cars.
There were many things to see and discover at CES this year. Including smart speakers, the fight between Google and Amazon, and the absence of Apple and Facebook solutions (not surprising since Apple is always last to the game, and Facebook started the race only after everyone else had run the first four laps).
Home-install and home automation have gone from being very rare to being something quite obvious and accepted— and bound to be in every person’s possession just as naturally as smartphones are today. Ericsson’s Internet of things prediction, from way back before the big financial crisis of 2008, has come to life at last.
There was also a great deal of fun and craziness (as always), with each thing more extreme than the next: Robots, innovative printing solutions, 3D printers. Plus a self-flying helicopter service that promises “No more traffic jams.” Ride it if you dare. Will these things go from prototype to product? Most certainly.
Overall, audio and sound improvements were decently limited. It was more about new hardware and new ways of listening and accessing music and video. Confirming that the inherent human need for music and stories remains the same.
What about the cars? Well, most people are really affected by cars, especially in the US where you can’t go anywhere without one. The industry is really evolving. There were 10 different companies proving that the future of self-driving cars is very near. The search for what we will do during transport, now that we don’t need to pay attention to driving, is really pushing the industry forward.
“Smartphone on wheels” is one expression that's been running around for a while and was pushed hard at CES this year. Presentation after presentation illustrated innovative ways of saying the same thing: Your car will now have the same capabilities as your home or smartphone. Indeed, all the capabilities we will see in cars starting this year are mind-blowing, and will most likely make transport even safer than it already is today. These great progressive leaps are quite exclusive to the automotive industry, however. The smartphones on display didn’t offer anything new at all, unless you count bigger screens and somewhat better cameras.
Electrification was another big theme among cars at CES this year. As well as a fundamental change in how we consume cars— from ownership to car-pooling, to a subscription-like service not dissimilar to Spotify or Netflix. The future also includes cars that adapt to who is driving, with configuration changes happening at login, just like your TV does today. I have my profile, and each of my kids have their own.
What will Dirac do in this new future of cars? We will do plenty. Besides providing perfected sound in any environment, we have some other interesting innovations coming up which will help car users (not owners) enjoy a very immersive experience that will make the trip feel far too short.
It goes without saying that it was a very disappointing experience coming home to my own car from 2014 only to discover that is was just as exiting as a Nokia phone from 1995. I want the future now!
- Niklas Thorin, General Manager BU High Performance at Dirac Research