CES Is Imminent, And The Big Consumer Brands Are Once Again Previewing Interesting But Dubious Concept Products

January 2, 2024 by Dave Haynes

The giant consumer-focused tech trade show CES is next week in Las Vegas, and there will be all kinds of digital signage and pro AV people going and enduring the line-ups and even-higher-then-normal prices for rooms and transport.

The show doesn’t have a whole bunch to do with commercial AV, other than offering glimpses of emerging display tech that might extend to the lower production volumes of use cases like digital signage and workplace applications. I went once, and didn’t see the need to put myself through all that again to see giant TVs and all kinds of electronics-driven bling and gadgetry that only rarely finds its way into the mainstream.

I have been told, however, if you have the clout as an end-user or tech specifier – or maybe the right process contacts – the “whisper rooms” of the biggest exhibitors (invitation-based areas not accessible to most CES attendees) – can be interesting for sneak previews of stuff that isn’t all about the bling.

Because the show is imminent, the press releases and preview are starting to pop up online – notably some material from LG that will get attention, including here, because of the novelty factor.

The Korean electronics giant always does a nice job packaging up innovation concepts, even if they are sometimes borrowed concepts.

One thing it will show is a tabletop projection system called the LG CineBeam Qube. It’s a laser projector that does 4K, runs on WebOS and can push a screen as large as 120 inches. But it only offers 500 nits brightness, which would rule it out as an option for almost any commercial job where the lights are on.

As is often the case with LG, it’s a concept that seems “inspired” by Korean rival Samsung, which launched its own “lifestyle” projector for the consumer market – The Freestyle – two years ago at CES.

More interesting as a concept, but probably never on some manufacturing line, is LG’s concept for something called the DukeBox – a play on jukebox.

The DukeBox by LG Labs is described as an innovative audio product that seamlessly combines the charm of vacuum tube audio with cutting-edge transparent OLED panel technology. It aims to deliver a new music experience by combining old-fashioned sensibilities with state-of-the-art technology, seeking to reinvent the depth of audio and video experience with a modernized jukebox.

With front-facing speakers at the bottom and a 360-degree speaker at the top, it offers an immersive audio experience that surrounds the listener. The transparency of the OLED display can be adjusted, creating a captivating visual effect reminiscent of a vacuum tube audio system enclosed in a transparent glass box.  

LG is by a mile the biggest manufacturer and marketer of commercial OLED and especially transparent OLED. It has shown some nice use-cases for the tech, like replacements for glass-fronted retail display cabinets and subway car windows. I can’t really envision a big market for the DukeBox, but there will be some early 20s pro sports stars who will want one to impress their buddies.

The challenge for this sort of thing in commercial settings is always cost.

Samsung’s CES previews seem to focus mostly on AI (as will be the case with most tech brands) and stuff for kitchens, like even smarter fridges.

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