About Futuresource Consulting

Futuresource Consulting, the specialist research and consulting company, is delighted to be the official knowledge partner for CEATEC. The company can trace its roots back to the 1980s and provides market insights into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, optical manufacturing, storage media, professional IT and education technology.
With more than 70 full-time employees providing in-depth analysis and forecasts across consumer and professional electronics categories, Futuresource is able to advise on market, competitive and technological developments, providing clients with access to the information that helps produce the best possible results.


CEATEC JAPAN 2011 Report

Futuresource has attended CEATEC JAPAN for many years however 2011 marked the first time Futuresource has teamed up with CEATEC JAPAN in an official capacity, as its 'knowledge partner'.

CEATEC JAPAN drew 172,137 guests in 2011, while numbers were slightly down from 2010, CEATEC JAPAN remains one of the world's leading electronics tradeshows for key technology and product announcements, centred primarily on consumer technologies/products, communications, robotics, and major industrial projects and concepts. Whether intentionally or not CEATEC JAPAN is generally focused on the Japanese market, where almost all of the exhibitors are Japanese companies.

While 3D took centre stage at CEATEC JAPAN in 2010, CEATEC JAPAN 2011 reflected the fallout of the natural (and subsequent nuclear) disasters in Japan from earlier this year, and a more austere global economy, which tipped the scales of interest towards the environment and saving ongoing [energy] costs, beyond experience-enhancements such as megapixels or third-dimensions or connectivity. CEATEC JAPAN exhibitors showed off some grand ideas and solutions for saving energy, burning less carbon and surviving natural disasters, Solar energy seemed to be the common solution across these.

While 'Green' is not a new issue in the electronics industry and related tradeshows, CEATEC JAPAN represented a significant step-up in focus, and ambition. Clean and renewable energy product and industrial concepts were exhibited by most major exhibitors.

Nissan's Smart House concept and Panasonic's Sustainable Smart Town concept both leveraged technology know-how to manage 'clean' energy on a very grand scale, by doing so helping consumers to save on fuel costs, also to become self-sufficient if power grids should fail during a natural disaster, and of course allowing consumers to replace carbon-hungry fuels with planet-friendly fuels.

Within Nissan's Smart house concept its 'Leaf to Home' system, similar to solutions announced by Mitsubishi and Toyota, will use the battery in a Nissan 'Leaf' electric car to power a house for up to 2 days if power should be cut off (by a natural disaster for example).

Generally speaking Solar was prominent at CEATEC JAPAN 2011, incorporated in solutions to power everything from homes to cars to mobile phones.

In response to the Japanese public's heightened awareness of radiation and not relying on official tests, NTT DoCoMo announced a phone-case that can measure radiation levels.

On the theme of socially responsible exhibits Intel and Cyberdyne teamed up to present their 'HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb') robot walker' which acts as a health/rehabilitation aid. Yoshiyuki Sankai, CEO of Cyberdyne, stated "Hal not only uses robotic technology but neuro-science, sociology and biology." It was also positioned as a possible gaming control accessory.

Apart from the 'socially-conscious' exhibits there were many interesting products on display at CEATEC JAPAN 2011 specifically around Tablets, Ultra-HD, 3D, and Sony's PS Vita.

While CE vendors without a Tablet product are now hard to find, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell one Tablet from another, particularly within the Android space where the platform and content is not a differentiator from one Android tablet to another. Vendors are differentiating with unique shapes and sizes, processing power, connectivity, and of course price. Toshiba's Android-based Tablets generated some interest based not least on their thin and lightweight design. Unlike the AT200 announced at the Berlin IFA show, the AT700 is targeted more towards the Japanese market and will be positioned as an extension of the Regza Connected TV viewing experience, over WiFi, so essentially positioned as a secondary TV set for the bedroom or study or kitchen, for example.

Sony's Tablets were also popular at CEATEC JAPAN 2011, the Android-based Tablet S has a unique teardrop shape, which creates a more ergonomically-friendly viewing angle when on a flat surface.

Ultra HD was a talking point, although it is currently more relevant to the Japanese market where 4k and 8k services are already announced from broadcaster NHK, due for 2012/2020 respectively. Although already seen at IFA Sharp showed off its Ultra-HD TV 8k4k displays for the consumer market. The model at 16 times the resolution of standard HDTV is due in the consumer market in 2012 to coincide with NHK's launch of 4k content services.

Interest in Home 3D has noticeably cooled since the last CEATEC JAPAN, however 3 exhibits stole the limelight at CEATEC JAPAN:

Toshiba provided some off-the-record insight to the launch plans for its much publicised Glasses-free 3DTV. The 4k2k 55" model boasts 4x resolution of an HD model and will be available in Japan mid-December for an estimated JPY 900,000 (approximately USD12,000); Although a very high price tag, as prices come down an impact could very well be felt on the current range of glasses-using 3DTV models which could be hit as consumers wait for the glasses-free option to become more affordable.

In the 3D Laptop market Sony demonstrated a 3D clip-on screen that can be added to a 2D VAIO screen to create a glasses-free 3D experience. It uses lenticular technology to create the 3D image, the really clever part is its use of facial recognition technology and the integrated camera on the VAIO to track the movement of the viewer which allows it to create stable 3D image regardless of the viewing angle. The solution is similar to a solution launched by Toshiba with its Qosmio laptop earlier this year.

Sony also received a lot of positive attention for its 3D Head-mounted display, the HMZ-T1; the visual effect created by 2x 0.7" HD displays is a 750-inch screen at 20meters away, which creates an impressive cinema like experience. Based on limited success of video head-gear to date (from companies like MyVu) it seems many consumers either don't look for a personal home cinema experience, or they find it unnerving to lose awareness beyond the head-wear (while in public for example), or a combination of both of these reasons. However what is clear is that no product in this space offers the quality of Sony's HMZ-T1 and is supported by a publicity machine and distribution to match Sony. The product is expected to be available at just under JPY 60,000.

Another popular exhibit was Sony's PS Vita; due in December 2011 in Japan and early 2012 in US and Europe the PS Vita is a super-charged PSP with 3G and multi-touch OLED screen. Keeping some distance between the competing mobile-phone gaming experience (for the time-being at least), the PS Vita comes with a 5" screen, processing and graphics power coming close to the PS3 (!!), and popular PS titles such as Killzone, and Wipeout.