CES: 4K and Smart Devices – the view from afar

CES: 4K and Smart Devices – the view from afar

So 2015’s bigger, louder and better (?) Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has closed.  From afar it looked as though this year was more about the direction and theme of the tech industry – with more 4K/Ultra High Definition televisions and an explosion in ‘connected’ devices appearing to be the main two– rather than about one device winning through.

Neither of these themes are particularly new although if they are widely adopted then they may have an impact on the networks that support them.

Once again 4K televisions were a major feature with providers announcing flexible, curved and thinner models, as well as Panasonic unveiling a BluRay player capable of native 4K content – demonstrating that there may be life left in physical media yet.

In our domestic bandwidth demand model we examined the impact that the streaming of 4K content would have on household bandwidth requirements. Whilst it led to an increase in demand, we found that continued improvements in compression technology tended to limit its impact. However, if 4K televisions are widely adopted then it’s likely that more work will need to be done to see how this affects the network as a whole.

The second theme was that of the smart device or the Internet of Things – ranging this year from the self-quantifying ‘smart belt’ to the increasing range of smart home products and platforms.

The continued push of wearable technology is of particular interest. If they need to connect at least regularly to the internet – and few at the moment do – then it is likely that they will use a mobile phone to do so. The idea of mobiles becoming not just a device in of themselves but also a ‘gateway’ for other devices is something that we explored in our response to the Government’s Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy.  They’re still too early in their development to establish what impact they may have on the out-of-home ecosystem but at the least they’re likely to add impetuous to the push to drive digital connectivity further.