Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Tech News: Cheaper streaming, easier air travel and better sleep

By Louis Fourie Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

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However, more important are the trends in technology that can be determined from this large trade show every January. For many people CES 2020 presents a window into the future of technology since it demonstrates which technology will impact the lives of consumers the most in the years to come.

One such trend that became evident is the nascent partnership between Hollywood entertainment and the technology industries, leading to many new products and services.

Several television manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Vizio have added a new picture setting called “Filmmaker Mode”.

Film studios and directors, who are concerned that their movies do not reach a wide enough audience due to home viewing, are all in support of this new technology.

Filmmaker Mode has the ability to preserve a high quality cinematic display of images in terms of colour, contrast and aspect ratio instead of the normal smoothing of motion and boosting of colours - often referred to as the “soap-opera effect” of current television sets.

For many years a major challenge has been to automatically adapt to a different orientation since videos on mobile platforms are usually produced in vertical “portrait mode” video, while the “landscape mode” is used for movies and television.

As a solution, Samsung introduced their QLED Sero television, which automatically rotates between landscape and portrait modes in sync with a paired Android smartphone.

Similarly Quibi, a new streaming service, presented their “Turnstyle” technology that automatically switches from full-screen portrait to full-screen landscape, eradicating the vexing black bars on the sides or on the top and bottom of the mobile phone screen.

Numerous well-known directors are already developing content for this new video format. But despite the collaboration with Hollywood and excellent content that look extremely good on the smart phone screen, it will not be easy for Quibi to break into the market with a mobile only platform.

However, with NBCUniversal launching its Peacock service this year, consumers will have a wider choice of streaming services than ever. Perhaps the war among the very affordable streaming services will put pressure on the exorbitant prices of DStv.

A second trend that became evident was that travelling would become easier and less stressful. Technology has always played a significant role in travel, but is now being taken to a new level.

Delta Airlines (in the US) announced that they are not only selling a trip between two cities, but an experience through the leveraging of technology. They are soon piloting custom-made parallel reality displays in Detroit, and if successful it will be rolled out to other airports. This new display technology by Misapplied Sciences allows numerous people to look at the same display simultaneously while each of them sees personalised information only relevant to him or her.

At CES the display almost magically aimed pixels right at the eyes of people with the result that each individual did not see a hundred flights, but only his or her own flight information in the preferred language.

No special glasses are needed, but the boarding pass has to be scanned in. At the gate another board will display the news that you have been upgraded (or not!).

While Chinese airports already use facial recognition for checking in, Delta is exploring biometrics to ensure faster boarding. They are further researching Artificial Intelligence to maintain smooth operations during all events such as storms.

Another interesting innovation is the Guardian XO full-body exoskeleton suit that was demonstrated at CES. The exoskeleton suit assists employees, who are freight handlers, to lift 91kg repeatedly over eight hours without fatigue.

In line with the increasing use of chatbots, American Airlines revealed that they would soon be using the Google Assistant’s interpreter mode to assist with translations in their Admirals Club lounge.

The third trend that was noticed at CES 2020 is a strong focus on personal health and especially the improvement of sleep, which could be because a large part of the population are insomniacs or rather because we are more and more realising how important sleep is. A considerable number of technologies to assist with deeper, uninterrupted, and better sleep were on display.

The French company URGOtech demonstrated their URGOnight that could help users’ to produce the right brainwaves to fall asleep.

URGOtech maintains that their product can lessen the time it takes to fall asleep by 40percent and reduce sleep interruptions by 50percent.

Several smart watches have been demonstrated that measure oxygen saturation levels to detect sleep apnea, as well as measuring the length, depth, efficiency and quality of sleep.

Embr Labs exhibited Embr Wave, a bracelet that uses “temperature waveforms” to reduce stress and hot flashes and improve sleep.

When the sleep mode on the bracelet is activated a 35 minute cooling or warming session starts to assist the wearer to fall asleep.

According to Sam Shames, the co-founder of Embr Labs, “temperature sensations for improving how we feel are the next frontier for health and wellness.”

Professor Louis C H Fourie is a futurist and technology strategist. [email protected]


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