CES 2019: What it means for future smart homes?

LG rollable OLED TV featured at CES 2019

CES 2019: What It means for future smart homes?

So the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over for another year. Everyone has packed up their stands and headed home from Las Vegas. But what did we learn about what might be coming along in the near and distant future that will impact on our smart home/home automation installs and home cinema rooms?

Rollable OLED Televisions

LG 65-inch rollable OLED TV in Line ViewEver since OLED technology was first announced the possibility of flexible screens has been discussed (anyone remember the electronic newspaper you could roll up and put in your pocket?)—well now it looks like it is getting much closer to reality. At Cyberhomes we’re all about decluttering your living spaces by hiding technology out of sight. As televisions have got bigger (the average TV purchase is now 55”, up from 36” just a few years ago) it has become increasingly difficult to hide them when not in use. We’ve used a combination of motorised brackets, moving artwork and clever joinery to achieve it.

Well LG previewed their new Signature OLED R. This 4K TV unrolls vertically at the touch of a button, and then retracts back into its pedestal when not being viewed. It can also unroll just a small amount (what they call ‘Line View’) to display information such as a clock and weather feeds. The current form factor isn’t going to suit every application (nor is the rumoured $50,000 price tag), but it will be exciting to see how this rollable OLED technology evolves in the coming years.

8K TV resolution

It’s not long since we were talking about 4K Ultra HD being the next ‘must have’ feature in television. However, a number of manufacturers (particularly Samsung) are starting to shout about 8K (four times the resolution of 4K). Don’t worry though it’s going to be many years before there is any quantity of 8K content around (we’re only just starting to get a sensible choice of 4K content) and the standards for broadcast/streaming and even connecting your devices together are still being finalised. 8K will surely be a ‘must have’ resolution for the home at some point, but not for a few years yet in our view.

New Immersive Surround Sound

When “3D” immersive surround sound emerged a few years ago there were two rival formats, Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D; shortly followed by DTS-X. As is often the case with ‘format wars’ it is content that decides the winner, and with most of the film studios opting for Dolby Atmos that has been the audio format of choice for our home cinema designer when specifying speaker locations and audio processors.

Well Sony have now joined in with their new “360 Reality Audio”. It seems to be primarily aimed at creating an immersive sound experience using headphones rather than a room full of speakers; but could provide an interesting option when viewing on a smaller screen. Sony are also championing how 360 Reality Audio could benefit music playback (similar to the surround sound mixes available via SACD and DVD-Audio that were perhaps ahead of their time).

IMAX Enhanced

Movies will need to be certified to the 'IMAX Enhanced' standard.

Movies will need to be certified to the ‘IMAX Enhanced’ standard.

Some of you may remember “THX Certified” as being a stamp of quality and authenticity in home cinema equipment? Whilst this still exists, features like Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Dolby Atmos, etc have become more relevant for the home cinema specification. Well now IMAX (famous for their huge projection screens and specialist high-resolution cameras) are introducing their own home cinema standard called “IMAX Enhanced”. IMAX Enhanced is a certification and licensing programme that claims it gives consumers the highest-quality Ultra HD (4K) home cinema experience, with the best picture and most powerful audio. Movies will need to be certified to the standard and manufacturers will have to develop future versions of their premium products (TVs, AV receivers/processors, etc) to meet the standard. IMAX said: “Companies are designing an IMAX Mode for the enhanced devices that will be meticulously optimized to play digitally re-mastered content as the filmmaker intended in the home.

This new standard is certainly something Cyberhomes will be keeping an eye on; if the film studios embrace it then it will likely become a requirement of future home cinema rooms. We may revisit IMAX Enhanced in more detail in a future blog.

MicroLED “The Wall” cinema screens

Samsung Wall TV microLEDYet another TV technology that has been talked about for a few years looks like it is starting to become a reality. MicroLED, currently being championed by Samsung, has no backlight with each pixel able to emit its own light (like OLED and plasmas before it). This means perfect blacks and rich colours. Where Samsung are really pushing this technology though is the ability to create huge displays; what they refer to as “The Wall”. Where other TV technologies typically max out at around 75 – 85”; Samsung are claiming microLED can go way beyond that (219” is currently planned). Does this signify the end of the traditional projector for use in home cinemas (or indeed your local multiplex)? We hope not. There’s something magical about those beams of light dancing above your head as you watch a movie, but maybe that’s just our nostalgia, what do you think?

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on 21 Jan 2019
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