Get email delivery of the Cadence blog featured here
Travelog time! I turned my trip to the Computer Electronics Show (CES) into a roadtrip with my spouse, and it was a whirlwind.
We left home in Santa Cruz around noon and arrived here in Sandy Valley, NV, at about 9:30pm, where we’re staying in a tiny house called The Peacock, probably about 300 square feet of adorableness in the middle of a ranch in the desert.
Look at this cute little thing!
Sandy Valley Ranch is a working ranch—at least there are horses that work, taking people on trail rides and entertaining people who want to play cowboys. It is utterly silent here, aside from an occasional barking dog in the distance. All we need are yipping coyotes to complete the auditory scene. As we arrived and admired the view, the vastness of the sky was overwhelming; we saw meteors and even a satellite; I identified Orion, the Pleiades, Taurus, the dippers, the Milky Way, and, I think, Mars. It’s nice to confirm that I haven’t forgotten everything I learned from my college astronomy class.
This is the quiet before the hullabaloo of Las Vegas; I think it may bring culture shock tomorrow, going from here to the lights of the city. We’re in sort of an eye of the hurricane.
From the CES website and sessions listed, it seems that smart cities and transportation are the major themes this year, with autonomous automobiles (A2) and machine learning thrown in to achieve it. Where I am staying tonight belies this ideal. I have a feeling that the future will be a vast dichotomy between the electronically connected, smart, and elegantly designed organization of people and services, and places like this—filled with people who are trying to escape the constant stimulation of a connected world. I have a feeling that we won’t be able to have one without the other. Sometimes ya gotta get up to your ankles in mud, and I don’t know that mud fits into a “smart” world.
Speaking of mud, we’re here after a few days of rain, which is relatively rare here. Sandi, the manager, sent me a text warning us to “be careful” as we drove in—but didn’t say what to be careful of. I wrote back: “Of what? Mudslides? Runaway boulders? El Chupacabra?”—but he didn’t reply. We discovered what, though—large puddles and a couple of jackrabbits showing us the way to the house.
I have heard rumors of the rain causing havoc at the show; ironic that at the largest electronics show in the world, mother nature is reminding us all about how important and vital the infrastructure supporting it must be. Without electricity at an electronics show, you have a bunch of very expensive doorstops.
I once read about a social experiment. One group of people were presented with an array of objects, each with a label: This is a pen. This is a ball, this is a shoe, this is a cup, this is a stick, or a block, or a feather. The group was to come up with alternate uses for each item.
The second group were presented with the same items, with one difference: the labels said, “This could be a pen (or a ball or a shoe or a cup or whatever). The result: the second group came up with many more varied and innovative uses for each item.
CES is made of people from the second group. Every startup—and every company was once a startup—took hold of an idea and said, this could be a business. I can’t predict who will be the winners of this great electronics game, but I can tell you that anything that processes information with any form of input will have digital processors in it, and if there is a need for processors, there is a need for chips. And this is where Cadence sits, in this chip/processor/board world. I’m not worried about Cadence’s future.
Today I wandered around the South Hall, looking at drones and all kinds of AR/VR and audio/visual applications today. If I may generalize, the displays were more about making technology “invisible”—how do we get this new technology to work in the background of our lives, instead of becoming the whizz-bang in-your-face technology predictions of the future from the past. They’re answering the question of how to make it easy for as many people as possible, thus making our lives simpler… by making it more complicated.
It was all about proof of concept, though; most items here haven’t yet been produced in bulk; they’re testing the waters for investors and other companies to purchase whatever it is that they’re selling. So many of the demos consisted of putting on a VR headset and experiencing what “the future” will look like, when their technology is adopted. Interesting, but unless their product was an AR/VR/IR/OMGBBQR application, it became rather redundant. I found myself paying much more attention to the interface than whatever it was that the company in question was trying to show.
Driving the future car—oh wait, it’s more like driving a VR future car
So, what is the future going to be like? We don’t know what we don’t know. Everyone wants to know the end game of electronic innovation, but we have only just started moving the pawns out from their beginning positions. All we know is what we have seen so far, and can only extrapolate where that trajectory will take us. From the stuff I saw today—drones and highly developed 3D screens and robots that do everything from folding laundry (I desperately want a Laundroid of my very own) to tracking our bathroom habits to assisting around the house (I even saw a Roomba-like window cleaner!)—the world of The Jetsons is looming ever closer.
P.S. Stay tuned for Part II!