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CES 2020: What to expect from the tech bonanza — from smart toilets to 8K TVs

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 officially kicks off here in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and companies from around the world are rolling out the forklifts to build out some of the massive exhibits that will be on display for the 170,000 attendees at this year’s edition of the tech industry’s trade show. 

But we’ve already got a good idea of the kinds of major announcements we’ll get during the biggest week in tech. Here’s what to expect, from 8K TVs to smart toilets to smartphones with foldable displays.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 05: A CES sign is displayed during exhibitor setups for CES 2020 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 5, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

8K resolution and thinner TVs

As usual, some of the hottest news will come from the TV industry. This year, you can expect plenty of companies talking about 8K resolution. It's more than a bit of a stretch to say that 8K, which offers twice the vertical and horizontal resolution of 4K if you're keeping count, is necessary for most consumers.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 05: 8K QLED televisions remain unwrapped at the TCL booth during exhibitor setups for CES 2020 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 5, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In fact, 4K is still not even the norm for streaming services — you have to pay to watch 4K content on Netflix (NFLX) — so it's unlikely that you'll want to pony up the extra cash for 8K anytime soon, with sets costing well into the thousands of dollars. It's mostly something that only makes sense for people who purchase absolutely massive televisions. We're talking about wall-size TVs that won't fit in your average studio apartment.

Outside of 8K, we'll likely see new, thinner television form factors. We're talking about the kind of super-thin models that'll make your current flat screen look like it needs to be put on a diet. In previous years we've gotten a look at Samsung's famous Frame, and the company has already announced its 2020 version of the TV meant to let you display artwork while it's not in use, so you can expect more risk-taking designs during this year's show. 

Voice assistants everywhere

Voice assistants are also set to be huge at CES, with tons of companies debuting products with Google (GOOGGOOGL) Assistant and Amazon's (AMZN) Alexa built in. We've already gotten a look at Kohler's $10,000 Numi 2.0 smart toilet with Alexa functionality, as well as the company's Moxie showerhead with built-in Alexa-powered speaker, and you can expect plenty of other smart assistant-capable devices to come.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 05: The Kohler Numi 2.0 smart toilet is displayed during a press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 5, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Auto companies have also built out a huge presence at CES in recent years, and 2020 won’t be any different. Vehicle manufacturers from the likes of BMW, Ford (F), Honda (HMC), and Toyota (TM) are all on hand to show off their new tech features ranging from self-driving capabilities to infotainment systems.

The future of the automotive cockpit, and what you do while your car drives itself, has been a major focus for automakers at previous CES shows. Honda has already given us a glimpse of its plans with its new Augmented Driving Concept that tries to figure out what drivers will do when they want to transition between autonomous driving and manual driving modes while on the go.

New laptops and tablets — and 5G

Naturally, CES will feature plenty of new laptops and tablets from a host of manufacturers with products sporting foldable screens, and high-powered gaming graphics. Nvidia is on hand, which means we're hoping to hear news about new graphics chips, and foldable displays have been hot ever since Samsung showed off its Galaxy Fold smartphone. Even if it needed to be recalled and released due to problems with its headlining feature — its foldable display — the Fold proved irresistible for early adopters, with the handset selling out in a number of markets after it was reissued.

Of course, 5G is also going to be everywhere at this year’s show. Whether it’s in cars or laptops, the next generation of wireless connectivity will be among 2020’s most important topics. And we're sure to hear about new use cases for the technology that we haven't seen before.

(Verizon, one of the four major wireless carriers, is the parent company of Yahoo Finance.)

Privacy could be the biggest ‘product’ at CES

Finally, while it isn’t as hot as a new tech toy, data privacy is certainly top of mind at CES. With congressional regulators discussing a federal privacy law, and California putting its new California Consumer Protection Act into effect as of Jan. 1 privacy, and how companies are ensuring it, might be the biggest product here. 

Last year, Apple (AAPL), which didn’t have a presence at the show, trolled the entire convention by plastering a massive ad promoting the iPhone’s privacy features on the side of a hotel overlooking the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year, Apple’s senior director of global privacy Jane Horvath will be on hand to discuss data privacy in the tech industry.

We’ll have a lot more this week from CES including hands-ons with the latest gadgets and interviews with the people behind them. Stay tuned.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to note that Apple’s senior director of global privacy will be at CES this year.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at danielphowley@protonmail.com or dhowley@yahoofinance.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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