THE next generation has only one requirement the internet, and lots of it.
Net-connected PCs are already ubiquitous, and Net-loving smart phones are quickly becoming so. But whole new classes of products will be connecting to the Internet in the near future, if the announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are any indication.
Among the new classes of connected products shown off here: televisions, car stereos, refrigerators and even ovens and washing machines. And that’s not to mention all the new tablet computers companies are introducing at the show in a bid to peg back Apple’s iPad.
“We’re approaching a point where not having an Internet connection in a consumer electronics product is becoming conspicuous. It’s just an inherent assumption that these devices will be connected,” said Van Baker, an analyst who covers consumer technology for research group Gartner.
Televisions are likely to be one of the first new Net-connected products to hit the mainstream. Manufacturers have been offering online-capable TVs for about three years now, but mostly these have been high-end sets. That will soon change.
The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that last year U.S. consumers purchased 3.2 million televisions that could be connected to the Internet, about 9 percent of all those sold. This year the industry’s trade group expects that 15 per cent of televisions sold will be able to connect to the Internet, and that by 2014 more than half the sets sold will be Internet enabled.
But Internet connectivity is going beyond the living room. Samsung this year is introducing its fourth generation of digital cameras that have built in Wi-Fi antennas to upload pictures directly to Web sites such as Facebook and LG is developing smart appliances such as washing machines and ovens that can use Internet connections to download new, customised applications, such as a special wash cycle for particular types of clothes or special cooking settings for particular recipes.
Established products are also getting a makeover with TV manufacturers backing 3D sets. Some manufacturers are producing new “passive” polarised glasses that are to take the place of heavier, battery-powered glasses that produce a 3D image by synchronising flickering images.