The world’s largest tech show, CES, took place in Las Vegas last week where thousands of exhibitors stretched across the vast Las Vegas Convention Centre to show off the latest and greatest technology innovations coming our way.
While the enormous TVs, smart projectors and crazy gadgets (like pillows that detect your snoring and move you to stop it) grabbed some of the headlines, there was one important thing underpinning a huge number of the exhibits and innovations – connectivity.
Amid that connectivity discussion was the everpresent conversation about how the power of 5G mobile technology will be an enabler for a vast amount of innovation and gadgets over the years ahead.
Tech Expert Trevor Long in front of the 5m wide Hisense Laser TV. Created using two Laser TV units operating in sync.
With the pandemic continuing, the work-fromhome model will also continue and will slowly evolve to a new hybrid workplace environment. For many this will mean relying on two types of connection: the one at your office and the one at your home.
At home, that may be a fixed-line connection, or it could be a mobile and 5G enabled connection. With the expansive 5G coverage rolling out nationally, and the speed and latency 5G offers, the simplicity of a 5G connection along with the performance it offers will satisfy the needs of many.
Additionally, there will be a hybrid user, looking for all the benefits of the workplace or home connection, but in a changing environment – be that the cafe, or a different daily location as they travel the country or the world with their newfound workplace freedom.
5G-enabled devices like laptops, phones, and 5G hotspots designed for either portable or fixed installation will likely revolutionise those choices for many.
The latest laptops announced at CES are a great example, with the Lenovo IdeaPad you have 5G at your fingertips for enhanced connectivity anywhere and anytime.
And these kinds of devices aren’t just laptops with a 5G SIM slot added in. They are designed for the modern hybrid world where working and learning from home has become normal in our new, post-pandemic world.
Because so many of us are doing more than just dipping our toes in the water of smart home devices like lights, or cameras, the innovation in this space is happening at breathtaking speed.
I saw more “smart” devices than at any CES before this year’s event. Part of that is due to a new breed of entrepreneurs putting their flavour onto existing products, but it’s also new innovations in existing technologies to make them easier to use, and in many cases operate independent of your home network as they increasingly rely on a mobile connection like 5G.
Because of the low-latency benefits of 5G, there’s a benefit to the independence of a device being on a separate network to a home WiFi as it will provide additional redundancy should your fixed-line broadband connection go down.
Critically though, it also means that as devices become more portable, they are not reliant on a home network to function.
For some devices this will mean the dual connectivity of WiFi and 5G, but for others – for example the Garage Door which may sit waiting for a “trigger” to open or shut – they could be controlled by 5G devices through either your mobile phone, or a dedicated 5G connected button in your car as you approach home.
Internet of Things leaves the home
It really wasn’t that long ago that just having a mobile phone and home internet was all the connectivity you needed. However, that escalated quickly with everything from cameras to sensors needing connectivity and creating what we know now as the Internet of Things (IoT).
For a long time, we’ve seen the “internet of things” in a home-user sense as any device connected to the home WiFi network.
Today though, it’s quite possible for a device to carry mobile connectivity and exist as a very clear and independent part of that Internet of Things and benefit the end user.
5G enables the expansion of your personal network of “things” to be untethered from the home. This could mean that devices typically connected at home via WiFi could now be taken away from the home while remaining connected to the low latency, high speed connectivity provided by 5G.
A simple example of this is a GPS locator tool which could be attached to your handbag, vehicle or anything you choose. By using GPS location data and the connectivity of 4G or 5G networks, these items could be continuously tracked so you never have to worry about losing them again.
I saw this implemented into a smart dog collar, the rather bulky collar was able to monitor the activity, sleep, heart health and location of the dog, allowing an owner to see where they are if they’ve jumped the fence again.
While that’s a simple use-case, it’s only the start of the expansion of our home list of “things” connected to the internet, that are no longer tied to the home itself.
Smart Cities & Cars
CES has long been known for its technology, but in the past decade, cars have been front and centre with talk of electrification and autonomy.
And it’s that autonomy and smart connectivity which is starting to get real attention.
In the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, now the heart of the automotive showcase, I saw more companies showcasing the “bits” of a car, than there were cars themselves on show.
These “bits” were everything from LiDar sensors for autonomy to the smaller computing power that will allow cars to be smart connected.
Smart connectivity for a car will be sold to end users as enabling “internet” and internet-based services, but in reality, the car will be smarter than any driver will know.
Cars will be able to communicate with other cars, traffic lights will be able to communicate with the cars around them, and the infrastructure of the city will know more about the state of the traffic on the roads than ever before thanks to this connectivity.
This could lead to a future where cars are safer on the roads, wait times at the lights are optimised for traffic flow and city planning will be based on the most up-to-date information without planners needing to install special equipment.
While all of that is an exciting glimpse into the future, the here and how is in the palm of your hand. 5G smartphones are becoming the norm, and one thing that surprised me in Las Vegas 2022 at CES was the number of new smartphones announced.
CES is not normally a “smartphone show”. But Samsung, TCL, Nokia and more all announced new phones with 5G connectivity a highlight – well ahead of the usual announcement window of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which takes place at the end of February.
For me, that’s a sign of the highly competitive smartphone market, and critically 5G is coming to phones at all prices. The real trend of the smartphones announced were their lower price – so bring on 2022 – the year of 5G for all.
This is a sponsored guest post from EFTM.com editor, Trevor Long.
Vodafone’s 5G Network is progressively being rolled out to selected parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth. 5G approved device required, with an eligible Vodafone plan, in a Vodafone 5G Coverage area to access the 5G Network. In non-5G coverage areas, you’ll automatically switch to our 4G networks. Actual speeds vary due to location & network congestion. Check coverage and for updates when 5G is coming to your area on our 5G network support page.