CES 2020 Overview

We published our latest newsletter today with our thoughts on CES 2020.

The excerpt below is the front page of that note. Please drop us a line if you would like to subscribe.

A Year of Gradual, Grinding Change

This was not a year of big ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Past years’ hot topics like AI, 5G, AR/VR have all either been subsumed into features of other projects (AI) or showed signs of incremental improvements (AR/VR). But if we had to pick one big technology that is (finally) showing signs of maturity it is Beam Forming, which has become a building block for many other things.


The TV OEMs have taken over much of the most expensive real estate on the show floor. Despite all kinds of impressive technology advances, this business remains a low-margin struggle between an expensive and constrained supply chain and consumers wed to the idea of ever-cheaper gear. Lots of experimentation here, but much is pushing up against the limits of human perception (8K TVs?). Also a lot of focus on partnerships with Audio and Image specialists seeking to build out their ecosystems.

Enhancing Sensory Experiences – the Age of Beam Forming

Beam forming, or the process of combining and focusing energy waves, is a technology that we have been seeing demonstrated for more than a decade, but finally seems to have reached maturity. Companies are using beam forming (or close cousins to it) to deliver targeted, personalized sensory signals – audio, video, haptic, and even radio waves. Some of this is going to end up being used in uncomfortable ways (even more targeted ads in stores), but a lot of this impressive engineering will make a lot of products better.

The Heat of CES

We overheard a timely reminder that CES is at heart a Trade Show meant to connect device makers with the vast web of retailers via a whole industry that is usually swept under the label of “Distributors”. These companies remain the beating heart of the show, but even here ecommerce has become a major topic as the industry looks to mold itself to new forms of reaching consumers.

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