The World is Flat

Every January the Consumer Electronics Show establishes the path for consumer electronics for the rest of the calendar year. It attracts about 150,000 individuals either displaying or searching for the latest and greatest in technology. If you consider this show represents consumer technology only, and that the builders’ show with 100,000 attendees represents every element of building a home, this makes a major statement about the size and importance of technology in our every-day lives.

I had the pleasure, and pain, of attending CES this year. The primary theme was the flat-panel display; plasma, LCD and DLP in the 1080p format which is true high definition. The industry has been pushing flat-panel, high-definition products for the past five years. Now, allegedly, the product has reached the pinnacle of performance. For many people this will create angst and has them wondering if they should make the transition now. Others will make the leap simply because they want the best. The good news is prices are spiraling downward and competition is furious.

A major factor driving the demand for the next generation of flat-panel technology is the high-definition DVD format. There is a battle between two standards — Blu-ray and HD — and at some point should establish the standard for DVD movies. As usual, the movie studios are a force behind this battle. And it appears that this situation will soon be resolved.

As I suspected when high definition first presented itself, one of the biggest issues was the resolution and clarity in which the actors appeared on screen. All imperfections come through like in real life. This has been a big issue with the television and movie communities. But ultimately, for those of you providing perks and incentives for buyers, a new flat-panel to play Blu-ray or HD movies on is a great differentiator and is more affordable than ever.

Some of the other interesting technologies that are gaining traction quickly are all about Internet protocol-controlled products, or IP for short. These include:

  • IP-based closed-circuit cameras are becoming cheaper, better quality and more versatile. The primary difference between the standard closed-circuit camera and the IP camera is the end user can view their IP camera from any location on the planet wherever they have access to an Internet connection. This allows the customer access to a new level of security and convenience at an affordable price.
  • Wireless lighting control, both Wi-Fi and IP-based are becoming much more affordable and accessible as technology improves.
  • Kitchen appliances are gathering traction as well, with IP-controlled refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers continuing to enter the marketplace at a brisk pace.

A revolutionary and exciting concept which is not new but is becoming much more refined and available is power-line communication. This process allows sending video, cable and control signals over the high-voltage power lines directly within the house. Combining this concept with wireless technology will someday eliminate most of the wiring needed in new home construction. This will also allow for much easier retrofit scenarios in remodels and existing homes.

As you can see, technology keeps evolving and as it does, I will keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest concepts. If you have questions on any of these specifics, contact your nearest residential electronic systems contractor in your marketplace. You can be sure they are closely following all of these technological advancements and should be able to provide you assistance and guidance for your consumer electronic needs.