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CEDIA's Tech Council Sees the Future, Part 7: Networks, Voice Control, and The Three Laws of Robotics

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by Ed Wenck, CEDIA Content Marketing Manager

A 17-member panel has made 100 predictions for 2020. Here are predictions 51-60.

Here are 10 more predictions for 2020 from CEDIA Senior Director of Emerging Technologies Dave Pedigo and the 16 volunteers who make up CEDIA’s Tech Council.

Prediction 61. Devices will self-register themselves on a system. “Today the paradigm is: You bring a device into the home, you press and hold a button on this, press and hold a button on that, rub your tummy, pat your head and then it gets registered into the system,” explains industry expert Julie Jacobson. “The process of registering devices on a system is really becoming simpler quite quickly. In the past, that’s been a huge impediment to the integrated home … There are products out there now that can sniff out what type of device is installed on the network and get them into your system rather seamlessly.” This self-registration process also helps immediately after a power outage – devices just reappear on the client’s control panel, working like they always did. And don’t even get us started on what happens when one gets a new router …

Prediction 62. Phone networks become IP only. Yep, all your calls will be handled over Wi-Fi connections. This article from theverge.com — four-and-a-half years old now — explains the nagging issues that remain with cellular tech:

After a call is made digitally between your phone and the cell tower, the next step is a bit of a mess. There are good odds it will be carried over some sort of fiber backbone, but there are plenty of legacy elements sitting around in the phone system — some decades old — that could become involved. It works, sure, but it's anachronistic. A ship will still get you across the ocean, but why not just fly?

While connecting a call over UMA [“Unlicensed Mobile Access”] can have its own problems (like latency, or Wi-Fi interference), there aren't any jumps or transfers the call has to make — it's just a straight data transfer between the phone and [a carrier’s] data center.

Prediction 63. THE LAN IS DEAD, long live the LAN. The first half of this one expresses the notion that we’ll figure out how to have everything wired up to the Big Internet. (Which means The Singularity includes all devices, which means Terminator and/or The Matrix wind up in the “documentary” queue. OK, we kid. Kind of.) For the second half of this contradiction, see Mike Maniscalco’s take back in Prediction 58: The LAN provides a firewall for safety and security away from the Mothership of Connected Stuff. So what exactly are we predicting here? An argument that’ll go on for the rest of the decade, that’s what.

Prediction 64. Voice and face recognition and authentication services become more ubiquitous. Yes, your front door will recognize your face — other people’s, too. “Joe Smith comes to your door, you get a text message without having to capture video, so that’s a convenience,” notes Jacobson. “The other thing is we’ve gotten into so much trouble now with voice recognition — anyone can tell your [voice-user-interface device] to order a car.” Soon we will have a universe in which Mom can shop online and buy things that Junior can’t, since that device will be able to identify different users. (Oh, and the kids won’t be able to ask the TV to Play Those Certain Movies, knowwhatImean? Yeah? Yeah? SAY NO MORE.)

==YEP, C3PO WILL BE A THING.==

Prediction 65. Far-field natural voice interaction becomes pervasive in home, car, and office. The terms “near-field” and “far-field” are fancy ways of saying “close to the mic” and “not.” During a recent chat with Amazon’s Charlie Kindel (the man behind the Alexa Smart Home cloud service) we mentioned, “One post from a user who bought an Echo in winter, only to have Alexa stop recognizing him in summer. The reason? Ambient AC noise! The fix: talk louder.” Simply put, there will soon be microphone and processing technology that allows the user to speak normally and have his or her voice recognized above road noise, HVAC racket, or the Content Marketing Manager in the next office at CEDIA hammering away at his keyboard like it’s a manual typewriter from 1957. (Your Humble Author is eminently self-aware.)

Prediction 66. Social robots become prevalent in the home. Yep, C3PO will be a thing. While we’re on the subject, remember the three laws of robotics from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot?

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

It occurs to us that Ash from Alien didn’t read those. (Sorry, we’ve been watching Stranger Things again, so we tried to jam as many references into this post as we could.)

Prediction 67. Integrated real-time voice translation. It’d be pretty cool if your phone recognized everything you said, no matter the inflection. It’d be even cooler if it could translate your order to your Parisian waiter accurately and with zero latency.

Prediction 68. 10Gbps networking becomes common in the home. Get your orders ready for Cat 6a cables (and up).

Prediction 69. Increased rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 and fiber to the home will bring 100Gbps to some areas globally. “The opportunity is increased bandwidth across the board,” notes Tech Council member Mike Heiss, Principal and Analyst at M. Heiss Consulting. “As the amount of streamed content really grows logarithmically, there’s a need for increased bandwidth. [When] my wife is futzing with her phone and I’m futzing with my phone — that sucks down a lot of bandwidth.” (Heiss notes that he’s an empty-nester — add a couple kids and their devices to the mix, and you’ll need that kind of power for that groovy lossless two-channel experience while Sis is watching a streamed movie. In 4K. With 3-D sound. Yikes.)

Prediction 70. IP Delivery from Multi-Channel Video Platform Distributors (MVPD). If you can’t beat Over-The-Top video delivery services, might as well join ‘em. Want your Netflix on your Comcast box? The latter may have to oblige to survive. And as the quality of the product increases, that ecosystem we used to call “cable” better become “The Fiber Company.”

Ed Wenck is CEDIA's Content Marketing Manager. Send thoughts, ideas, and typo notifications to ewenck @ cedia.org.

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