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At CES, a View From the Future

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The Consumer Electronics Show might as well be called the Connected Everything Show, with autos, smart appliances, health monitors, home-security systems and, yes, the good old TV all playing parts in enabling a digital lifestyle. "The internet of everything" was how Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs put it, envisioning a chip-ubiquitous future.

Here, a look at the future via the show floor, where Ad Age went on tours led by the Mobile Marketing Association, AT&T AdWorks, Group M; IPG Media Lab, McCann Worldwide; Simulmedia and Optimedia.

Lenovo table PC
Lenovo table PC

Un-flat screens
Both LG and Samsung touted gorgeous, curved TVs, and the latter stole the show with its foldable screen called "Youm." While the idea of rolling up your tablet is cool, the most-immediate application of these technologies will likely be in commercial spaces, making wraparound video a reality.

Home-to-Car Connections
Gone is the simply novel and in is the actually useful. Audi, for example, showed off tech that let folks plan a trip on Google Maps at home and send it to the car, in addition to its self-driving vehicle (Lexus had one, too). And Ford announced it would open its Sync platform to developers, hoping its proprietary ecosystem will catch on.

Table PCs
With tablets in the hands of 25% of American adults, hardware-makers are testing appetites for new screen sizes. Sony and Lenovo produced multi-touch screens that allow people to play a game or use an app together. Will consumers shell out $1,700 for Lenovo's 27-inch "Horizon" table PC? If so, it'll provide an interesting canvas for advertisers. Expect continued blurring of PC/tablet/smartphone form factors.

Ads on Your Fridge
Transparent TV screens could transform the beverage case at your local convenience store, and a "smart" refrigerator might deliver recipe suggestions based on what's inside it. The long-term implications are intriguing: just wait until the fridge can automatically detect what's inside, thanks to yet-to-come chip-enabled "smart packaging."

4K TV
The biggest "new" thing at the show, these TVs offer twice the resolution of 1080p sets. (Sharp showed off the world's first 8K TV.) There's no reason to buy one now; they're pricey and there's no 4K content. But they won't be $20,000 forever and content will come, requiring a whole ecosystem upgrade for advertisers, not unlike when ads had to be produced in HD vs. standard def.

Changing of the Guard
Microsoft and RIM were absent from the floor, and Yahoo was silent, save for client meetings. In their place: China's TCL and state-owned Hisense showed off high-concept TVs, and Qualcomm stepped out in a big way. Today's unrivaled dominant player at the show? A one-time South Korean nobody, Samsung.

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