Each January, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brings together thousands of manufacturers, startups, and industry experts to tout the latest consumer gadgets and technological innovations that one day may find their way into our homes and businesses. While COVID-19 forced the show to be held virtually last year, the 2022 CES returned to Las Vegas January 4-7 in a hybrid format, with expanded COVID-19 protocols for the roughly 50,000 people that attended in person, and live streaming/recorded events for those who still wanted to participate virtually.
While virtual presentations are an outstanding way to deliver concise information two-dimensionally, being onsite and interacting directly with vendors and other attendees provides additional depth and insight. During our three days of attending sessions and roaming the halls, various themes emerged and repeated themselves in different product categories which pointed toward both accounting hardware trends and consumer technology trends worth monitoring for ourselves and our businesses.
The hybrid work environment prompted by COVID-19 is here to stay, and laptop vendors responded accordingly with increased display functionality and mobility. Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 integrated an 8” tablet into their 17” laptop model, taking advantage of the unused keyboard space to add multiple capabilities such as a ten-key, an application launcher, and a chat function.
ASUS announced their Zenbook Fold OLED model that could be used as a 17” laptop display/tablet with a physical Bluetooth keyboard. It also has an option to fold into a compact PC form with the lower screen being a virtual keyboard. Dell’s XPS 13 Plus was further improved by melding the touchpad into the wrist pad, increasing the size of individual keys on the keyboard by eliminating the space between keys (latticeless), touch-enabling the traditional function keys at the top of the keyboard (capacitive), and incorporating Intel’s latest 12th Generation processor and HD, 4K, and OLED display options.
ASUS built upon the successful legacy of their MB169B+ mobile monitors with their ZenScreen Go display that adds a high capacity (7,800 mAh) battery which will keep the display operating for more than three hours on a single charge. In addition to the traditional USB-C and mini-HDMI connectivity, this model also integrates wireless capabilities to mirror/extend Windows 10 or 11 PCs, as well as Android, iOS, and macOS devices, making it a truly mobile device.
ViewSonic mobile monitors were also featured at CES with a 17” model targeted to gamers and a 16” VP16-OLED prototype that came with an integrated adjustable stand that would raise the display to eye level.
Finally, curved screens were on display throughout CES with the biggest and curviest devices being touted by Samsung. Samsung’s Odyssey Ark is a huge, heavily curved 55” display that can be viewed in both a portrait mode (for optimal viewing of large PDFs) and landscape mode (which can also be used for optimal gaming, if you might be into that kind of thing).
Have you ever wanted to share applications between your PC, tablet, laptop, or external displays? Apparently, most people do, as this was a noticeable trend amongst the vendors with each touting their own solutions to do so seamlessly across different device operating systems.
Today’s hybrid environment points to accountants continuing to work in different locations with different available displays which is where tools such as Lenovo Magic Launcher, Dell Mobile Connect (DMC), ASUS Glidex/ Link to MyASUS, Samsung Flow/Smart View, and others can be utilized to accomplish the link.
While workstations and displays fall into the business scope of accountants, virtual and augmented realities are future technologies that could impact accounting firms, and also have the potential to drive new business opportunities for their clients.
The following are four future technology trends that are rapidly evolving within the consumer products market.
If you saw Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Ready Player One,” you have a good idea of what the metaverse or virtual reality universe eventually could become. It’s basically a virtual world where you can create an avatar and interact with others. Beyond gaming, there are practical real-world business opportunities evolving in which digital twins of anything can be created, tested, and experienced virtually before attempting to do so in the real world with real dollars. Real estate can be sold/leased before actually being built, consumer products can be custom prototyped and 3D printed, vacation experiences can be previewed before actually booking a trip, and, of course, training simulations are being created.
Imagine attending CPE where you are interacting with virtual clients and producing returns or conducting an audit, and you will start to understand the potential of virtual and augmented reality.
Haptic relates to the stimulation of the sense of touch and/or motion through technology, such as when a gamer’s chair vibrates when the player hits an obstacle or accelerates in a racing game. Multiple vendors across CES integrated haptic capabilities. One such vendor offered flight simulation to pilots learning to fly through the use of haptic gloves and virtual reality (VR) headsets, which would allow them to feel the turn of a knob or flip of a switch that they see while wearing their VR headset. It sounds like science fiction, but haptic feedback is now being used in mobile devices and by computer vendors such as Dell in the XPS 13 Plus laptop touchpad mentioned previously.
Some of you probably remember seeing 3D movies and images by wearing glasses with paper frames and red and blue plastic lenses (or today’s standard: gray lens glasses with black rims). While the 3D effect was cool, the glasses made the experience awkward and unnatural. The reason for this is that you see stereoscopically, which means your eyes see slightly different angles of the same object that allow you to see three-dimensionally. Canon announced their Dual Fisheye lens and Kokomo app, which allow for the creation of 3D images/movies that can be viewed with virtual reality glasses to create more lifelike 3D images and live experiences in the metaverse. This trend’s evolution provides opportunities through stereoscopic cameras which allow autonomous vehicles to see things today that GPS/radar don’t and can provide simpler solutions as summarized next.
While the prospect of having completely driverless cars easily available to the average consumer is still many years away, there are places where autonomous vehicles are currently available and changing business models. John Deere announced the availability of its fully autonomous tractor which can till, plant and harvest crops 24 hours a day and do so in a straight line within one inch of accuracy (only stopping for fuel or identifying a potential obstacle) due to its integration of GPS and stereoscopic lens that see 360 degrees around the tractor. Following up on last year’s Starship delivery robots at college campuses, Ottonomy announced their delivery bots are being used in airports.
While these techs and trends can seem somewhat far-reaching and impractical, most of us remember a time when the capabilities of today’s personal computers, smartphones, GPS, and media players were considered science fiction.
A version of this content originally appeared in the Thomson Reuters Accounting and Auditing Newsletter.
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