Foldables, smart home, automotive: here’s what to watch for at CES 2020

There's always a lot of announcements at CES; here are the things you should keep an eye on this year

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 kicks off in Las Vegas on January 7th. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CES is one of the largest technology events of the year.

Companies gather in Las Vegas to announce, demo and show off new products and technology. A lot happens at CES, and it can be tricky to see through the noise. It’s also a place for companies to announce outlandish prototypes that may never go anywhere — The Verge has an excellent roundup on which CES announcements actually made it to market last year.

With all that said, we thought it’d be helpful to offer up a few areas to keep an eye on at CES in 2020 based on announcements we’ve already seen and trends we’ve noticed.

Phones, particularly ones that fold, and other mobile tech

CES is always a bit of an odd duck when it comes to mobile technology. Phones manufacturers don’t always use CES as a launching ground for the latest smartphones, preferring to hold their own separate events where products can get more individual attention.

That said, foldable phones made a big splash at CES last year, likely owing to the show’s more outlandish nature. But foldables have changed since then; they’re less a far-away concept and more an approaching reality. Motorola has an affordable folding device on the wayalbeit a delayed one — and rumours have it that Samsung is developing a follow-up to 2019’s Galaxy Fold. Even Microsoft has two folding devices slated for later in 2020.

I’d expect this trend to continue in 2020, and foldables will have a large presence again this year. It may be as simple as companies pointing to upcoming devices, but expect foldables to be the big mobile tech at CES.

Also, Apple will have an official presence at CES this year after 28-year absence. Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy, will appear on a January 9th panel dubbed the Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable. It’s not much, but it’s more than a billboard promoting the privacy of its devices.

Don’t expect any new hardware from Apple, however. The Cupertino, California-based company is also expected to show off its HomeKit smart home platform at CES, and I don’t think we’ll see much else.

Smart home products

Google and Amazon’s battle for the living room is in full swing, and other companies want to capitalize on smart tech in the home, so expect a massive amount of smart products ranging from the potentially useful to arguably insane.

We’ve seen everything from heated razors to smart toilets at CES in the past, so nothing is truly off the table. But in terms of realistic products that will hit the market at or after CES, look to Alexa- or Assistant-powered devices.

Of course, there will likely be smart speakers and displays on both sides, but keep your eyes out for more interesting devices such as Kohler’s Alexa-powered showerhead speaker combo.

8K Televisions

TVs are usually a big item at CES, but if the typical pre-show announcement preamble is anything to go by, then 8K may be a big segment this year.

LG announced a bevy of new TVs slated to be shown off at CES sporting ‘Reak 8K’ experiences. The South Korean company claims its 8K OLED displays exceed the industry’s spec for 8K Ultra HD screens.

I’d expect other TV-makers like Samsung and Sony won’t be far behind with expanded lineups of 8K televisions to match.

However, there’s likely to be a run of much more interesting TV panels as well. For example, LG also announced it’d show off an evolution of its rollable OLED TV technology. The company showed off rollable TVs at CES in the past, but this year the TV rolls down from the ceiling, not up from a stand. Granted, LG’s past rollable TVs never met their 2019 launch and at IFA, LG said they may not arrive outside Korea until 2021. Plus, we still have no idea how much these screens will cost.

Automotive

Another area to expect lots of interesting CES announcements is automotive. The electronics show has been a hotbed for electric vehicle announcements for some time, from both traditional carmakers and new start-ups.

With continued evolutions in the technology, and more traditional car manufacturers moving to electric — like Ford — CES 2020 will continue to be a playground for automotive demos.

However, cars aren’t the only electric automotive tech that will have presence on the show floors in Las Vegas. Vancouver-based motorcycle company Damon will unveil its new Hypersport Pro all-electric motorbike at CES. BlackBerry recently announced it partnered with Damon to implement its QNX technology as the base for the motorbike’s systems, including the CoPilot advanced warning system.

Laptops, gaming and everything else

Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without laptops. We’ve already seen laptop announcements from several manufacturers, including Dell, LG and HP ahead of CES. Considering Intel’s 10th Gen processors are available, Wi-Fi 6 is taking off and 5G is growing (but not in Canada), we’re likely to see a massive array of portable computing devices with those features.

Further, Qualcomm announced an expanded line of Snapdragon Compute chips at its Snapdragon Tech Summit in December. With new 7c and 8c chips joining the Snapdragon 8cx, as well as an 8cx variant for enterprise, and Microsoft pushing ARM-based Windows with its new Surface Pro X, expect several new devices in this category.

We’re also likely to see crazy new gaming equipment, from laptops to PC parts and more.

However, laptops, PCs and gaming aren’t the only other tech we can expect. With the rise of true wireless earbuds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more audio products in this segment at CES.

Finally, with some of the other big trends, expect privacy, health and wellness, services (especially streaming) and IoT to have large presences on the show floor as well.

To keep up with everything coming from CES 2020, keep your eyes on MobileSyrup, as well as our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. We’ll have the latest news along with pertinent Canadian details served up fresh every day.

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