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The Blue Room at The Consumer Electronics Show

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Richard Robbins | 10:54 UK time, Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hi, my name is Richard and I'm a technologist working in the BBC Blue Room.

It's my job to highlight immediate consumer technology trends and game changing media consumption devices and to bring them to the attention of our editorial, technical and management teams.

In the Blue Room we often find the strongest way to convey the importance and impact of new electronic equipment and content services is to put them in the hands of our colleagues and allow them to discover the potential for themselves.

Ultra High Definition TV screens at The International Consumer Electronics Show 2013

The Blue Room is our den of devices where colleagues can touch, test and trial new consumer cameras, emerging displays, fresh forms of digital content and connected experiences across mobile, tablet, PC and televisions.

One of the biggest events in the technology calendar is the International Consumer Electronics Show. It features 20,000 product launches, more than 150,000 attendees and over 3,250 exhibitors.

With the exception of Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft nearly every technology company from start-up to the multi-billion dollar global brand have a presence in Las Vegas in January.

My fellow Blue Roomer, Lindsey Suter and I were there too.

Attending the CES show served three core knowledge gaining purposes for the Blue Room. It allows us to select interesting and exciting products to showcase, make contact with developers and engineers who make them and to pick-up on overarching themes and trends that show provides.

Smart utensils, bizarre iAccessories,' booth babes' and Ultra High Definition TV made headlines.

We'd like share some of our findings about the next generation of televisions and the potential for new content with you so we've produced our Little Blue Book from CES (Link to PDF).

If you have any comments or would like to suggest any exciting consumer technology products that you think the BBC should be across please use the comments section below or tweet us @BBCBlueRoom.

Richard Robbins is a senior technologist at the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    Richard, I'm curious to know why Apple doesn't participate in the show given it's square bang in the middle of the consumer electronics space and almost 5% of the S&P 500 index now. Perhaps it's because the iPad is the last innovation they've come up with and it's old hat now? Lol

    I'm very excited to see how the interactive TV offerings develop actually - really believe that direct consumer interaction is the most impactful element for broadcasters when one looks at technology trends such as convergence. The voice and gesture aspects of Smart TV you cover in the Little Blue Book PDF look especially interesting for future interactivity-based products.

  • Comment number 2.

    Wow... 110" TVs - boggles the mind! I wonder how long it will be before the UHD becomes a standard... I'm still fascinated by the move away from CRTs to flat screens!

    @AmandaCh - with you on the interactive capability. The few BBC game shows that currently employ the 'version 1.0' of the technology are already pretty impressive... in 5 years time you'll probably have real-time voting feedback on the shows and more.

  • Comment number 3.

    Probably not really too relevant for the media industry but I thought the RP-Vita (Remote Presence Virtual and Independent Telemedicine Assistant) at CES was by far the most impressive technology on display... it would be interesting to see if such tech will evolve some 'safer journalism' options in the future - e.g. reporting 'robots' in wartime areas.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wow, what a job. @Alain - Yeah I agree. with that. In 5 years, it's going to be amazing the amount of interaction we will be able to have with others. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator], I like to blog about all sorts of things and might head over to technology with all the new things on the horizon and the opportunity to try things first.

  • Comment number 5.

    I had a conversation yesterday with someone in R&D and it was pointed out that the low frame rate of Ultra HD / 4k can have serious implications for the quality of the picture in moving objects. Basically with that high resolution as the object moves the shutter speed is so slow that everything blurs. If an object is to stay in focus then it would need to move very slowly and we already know that if the main object that we are focusing on in a scene goes out of focus our brain gets quite confused.
    I fear we are in a situation where we will end up with not all 4k screens being equal and early adopters could get burnt.

  • Comment number 6.

    Many thanks for the comments.

    @AmandaCh – Apple appear to take a very different approach to marketing and product launches. They used to participate in the Apple focused Macworld that is also held January. More recently they have moved over to making product announcements at their press conferences organised to suit their own roadmap rather than the schedule of the wider consumer electronics industry.

    Having said that Apple do in fact have a major presence at CES, not just in the form of endless third-party accessories and cases, but also in rumour and speculation as to what their next big move will be.

    @Alain Mostert – UHDTV has been defined as standard by the ITU, BT 2020 details two UHDTV levels;

    Level 1 3840 x 2160 at 24, 25, 30, 50, 60 and 120 fps progressive only and
    Level 2 7608 x 4320 at 24, 25, 30, 50, 60 and 120 fps progressive only

    Deloitte have made some interesting predictions about the future for UHDTV Level 1 (or 4K) in 2013 and beyond. https://bit.ly/10UECiW

    As you may know, along with NHK and the OBS, the BBC arranged special screenings of Super Hi-Vision (UHDTV Level 2 with 22.2 audio) during the Olympics. NHK plan public test terrestrial transmissions of Super Hi-Vision in Japan by 2020.

    @Patrick F - Good suggestion; The BBC takes the safety of its journalists and crews very seriously, we’re actively researching the use of new technologies through BBC R&D and our sister project the BBC Edge Group (@BBCEdgeGroup) but it’s unlikely that we’ll see robots in the field for some time to come.

    @Doyley3731 – Thanks. I very much enjoy my roll at the BBC! There are always lots of great roles in the BBC up for grabs if you're interested? https://bbc.in/LtuLba

    @Bob_ – Interesting point; Frame rates up to 120 fps have been included in the specification for UHDTV.

  • Comment number 7.

    Flat screens are fantastic but, and there is a BIG “BUT” they have been around for 8 years, in the case of PC’s / Mac’s more like 15, with computers boasting HD, and Hi-res for most of that period, including both High and Low spectrum Audio. Now depending on the price and configuration and source of Sound for output, people using PC’s & Mac’s have enjoyed both HD Vision & HD Audio.

    Vision is important but so is the sound, the problem is that Sound is such a huge issue, as unlike the screen; bigger is not always better, as you need multiple speakers in sizes from 30mm to 1500 mm for HD or HQ Audio in the average UK home. This however will annoy the hell out of your neighbours, and cause major problems with your hearing in later life, the tech companies need to sort this problem and issue out as sound has been forgotten.

    Now going back to screens, as I previously stated flat screens have been around for 8 years, we have gone from 720i to 1080 i/p to 3D, now 4K+ i/p with 3D and or multi view with multi audio streams for two allow 2 people in same room to view/hear different programs.

    Not a problem at all personally I think this is a good think so long as they make it clear that in order to receive the benefits of this tech, you need an appropriate source. For example Sky in the UK offer HD and 3D, along with Virgin, BT and others, but unlike Virgin and BT that use cable as a delivery system Sky cannot deliver VOD in Full HD or 3D “for now”, never mind 4K+ tech. This is a major problem, as Sky uses the internet to provide its VOD, even if they advertise speed (X); if everyone used it at the same time it would fall below necessary standard. These new types of televisions are designed to work either using direct sources, like Blue ray, PRV, Memory sticks and Full Cable. As for Full Cable unless you live in countries that can offer this, with the appropriate infrastructure for its population including a reserve there is no point getting such TV’s, especially if you’re a satellite customer. Maybe BT and Virgin may have the ability to deliver the necessary for 4K+ , but with Sky running on a virtual network, so basically it buys BT’s internet and repackages it for its customers, similar to supermarket Mobile /cell packages, but unlike cell / mobile customers, BT customers still are prioritised when it comes to access.

    Which is why Sky is still only offering limited MB packages with real time speeds proven to be in some cases significantly slower than advertised, Source: UK regulator OFCOM

    Sky will have to start physically getting involved in terrestrial networking, something it does not really do, yet again Sky has ruled Sports in the UK, so perhaps this is the chink in there Armour, perhaps offering ultra-cheap sports and movies, to their competitors customers in exchange for Network access in return to compensate may help, yet these new TV’s may signal the end of Sky or at least its dominance in sports and so on, but the facts are the facts, and we in the UK and to be fair to Sky are not alone loads of countries and companies face this future.

    "sorry for any errors please note time I wrote this and I have just done a 16hr shift"


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