As has been the case over the years, the first port of call for many of those products, or their final consumer-ready variants, will be on display at IFA, the trade show held in Berlin, Germany, every year that is usually the highlight of the second half of the year.
It is at IFA that we have witnessed the birth of what we have come to take for granted today: the big-screen smartphones that we once preferred to call “phablets” so as to distinguish them from the then dominant 7-inch tablet market – which has today been decimated by the 6-inch smartphone.
At the just-concluded IFA Global Press Conference, we got a hint of what’s coming later in the year.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has been around for ages now and there’s not much new here, just a progression of what’s been in motion for long.
The sudden interest in it, which has resulted in the term being a buzzword over the last 3 years that is at best avoided thanks to it being turned into marketing lingo and losing meaning, is because it finally appears to be ready to make the leaps we have all been hoping for decades since Alan Turing proposed ‘The Imitation Game’ (an award-winning movie by the same name is a recommended watch, by the way, especially if you didn’t sit through a Computer Science class where the Turing test came up).
Like we have been seeing with smartphones over the last few years – and there will be no shortage of new releases at IFA 2019 – a lot of the products we will be seeing throughout the year will incorporate AI smarts, from television sets powered by our favourite platform, Android TV, to home appliances.
For instance, the latest batch of 8K TVs, most of which are yet to be made commercially available and which we will likely be hearing more about during IFA 2019 and beyond, have built-in AI features that adapt their pixel resolutions to their ultra-sharp pixel grids and use intelligent software to recognize what is on display and match the sound to the images on display. Like, sound from a newsroom, concert hall, football stadium etc. Takes the current “modes” on TVs to the next level.
2. Micro LEDs/Crystal LEDs
Again, as with AI above, micro LED panels have been demoed before – that Samsung Wall TV that we have been seeing is quite something – but they are yet to make it to living rooms. IFA 2019 is probably our best chance at seeing up close what may be on offer the next time we go shopping for a TV set, never mind that it will be a while for technology as nascent as micro LED to become affordable.
3. 360-degree sound, wireless speakers and turntables (yes, that)
3D audio (we’ve even seen these at IFA before) and wireless speakers are not new. They’ve been around for a while. At least the last few years. Turntables? Those have been around long before even my father was born. However, as with everything, they’ve gotten better with time.
Turntables are “cool” again as they get introduced to a generation that grew up without them, only seeing them in movies and are embraced by a generation that got hooked to music through them. For the former crowd, the standout features in such devices are the ability to play whatever it is that they are listening to on their phones on them rather than going out to look for vinyl records, as the latter generation is bound to.
It is these modern Hi-Fi features (pre-amplifiers, Bluetooth music data transfer), complete with accompanying platform-specific (Android, iOS) apps, that we can look to seeing come September.
On the wireless speaker front, some of which are able to be paired with the turntables described above, it is mostly the variety and more options that lower the price of those that include voice assistants like the Google Assistant that we will be looking out for, rather than new features.
With renowned German audio company Sennheiser becoming IFA 2019’s “global audio partner”, there’s even more room for surprises come September.
For many of us who grew up in the 90s, projectors have mostly been relegated to public screenings – the old Factual Film van that used to bring movies to villages and outpost trading centres. In the 2000s, the same devices have showed up in boardrooms, lecture halls and other places.
Their next stop is the home. Thanks to advances in technology, high-resolution projectors with very good audio output that can be used at home have been around for a while now even though uptake is very much on the low side when compared to, say, TVs.
At IFA 2019, we will get to see yet more attempts to woo consumers to adopt projectors for their home entertainment with those that separate red, green and blue (RGB) lasers in order to project more colourful images expected to make quite the splash.
Everyone and their dog have hoped on to the 5G hype train and, to be honest, it is quite exhausting. However, with the technology for tomorrow’s superfast communication networks hurtling towards commercial availability soon, it is about time we all got in on the action, at least information-wise.
That, at IFA 2019, will be catered for by the two keynote speakers at the weeklong trade show: Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu and Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon taking the IFA stage to tell us how the commercialization of 5G will change the mobile tech landscape and contribute to the growth of the global economy, just like the technologies before it have.
Beyond the information, IFA 2019 will be the platform from which several market-ready 5G smartphones will be showcased. Currently, only Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G variant is available in the market. More are set to follow it and IFA 2019 will likely be where we get to hear about and see them.―Android Kenya