Four Key Takeaways from CES 2015

With 170,000 attendees, 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space and over 3,600 exhibitors, CES is an amazing display of technology and innovation.

Every year, new product categories emerge and existing categories push the boundaries. As always, there are a number of themes that emerge on the show floor, which gives us a great indication of what’s ahead for consumer technology.

Below, we take a look at the four key themes that we noted, as well as the potential implications to the Sports Industry:

4K is here to stay and 8K is just around the corner

When 4K was announced, many asked the question whether 4K would go the way of HD or 3D. Both were major innovations in the TV industry, but suffered dramatically different fates. HD went on to be universally adopted whereas 3D failed to gain much traction.

Based on the show, 4K very much seems to be taking the way of HD. Not only are 4KTVs becoming affordable, but the 4K ecosystem is growing very rapidly from content creation to distribution. Netflix, YouTube and Amazon all displayed their 4K streaming services.

The implication for the sports industry is quite substantial. Some of the first original 4K content to be produced was sports content. The real value of sports is live distribution, not on-demand. This puts some challenges on the traditional satellite/cable distribution system and opens the door for IP distribution to go mainstream.

While IP distribution currently can’t serve all viewing needs, the capacity is expanding at a much faster rate than the traditional model. Also, enabling 4K distribution over IP is significantly cheaper than upgrading all broadcast distribution systems to 4K. And, once everything is IP, it opens up the door to deliver more enhanced service, previously limited to digital offerings, directly to the set top boxes.

Home automation

It was inevitable, but the Smart Home is closer than we think. This time last year, Google spent $3.2bn to buy home automation company Nest. Billions of dollars are being invested in the industry. Samsung has committed to make 90% of their home devices internet-enabled by 2017, the remaining 10% by 2020.

You can fit cameras on your door to recognize family members when they come home and receive an alert. Your lights, thermostat, DVR, security cameras and alarm system can all be operated remotely.

The real challenge is going to be home personalization whereby all these connected devices work in tandem to cater to your personal preferences. This is probably a few years out, but sport is going to play a big part of the personalization.

It’s all about the drones

The most remarkable difference from last year’s CES was the explosion in the offering of different kinds of drones that serve any kind of purpose. It is a well-known fact that Amazon is exploring drone delivery, but the scope is much wider than that. Agriculture, traffic control, surveying, etc. all can benefit from drones.

On the sports side, usage is probably limited to content creation. Rather than being a fixed camera position, drones could potentially provide a non-intrusive, flexible camera. However, this would require the drones being able to capture and distribute broadcast quality video. This may be a challenge in a congested stadium.

Virtual Reality

When Facebook spends $2bn on a company that has never launched a consumer product, people take note. And, at CES this year, we saw a glimpse of what prompted Facebook to acquire Oculus Rift. Immersive virtual experiences could very well be the way we experience games, sports and entertainment in the future.

For sports, we are getting closer to brining the full stadium experience to the home. This means creating a whole new set of experiences that is completely different from the traditional and digital broadcast model. It might be a few years out, but definitely keep an eye on this space.