The more than 175,000 visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show being held from 6 to 9 January in Las Vegas will learn, of course, about lots of products that will be hitting the market next year. But 500 or so researchers, manufacturers, and designers will stay in the city a few extra days to talk about products in the works for 2021 and beyond. They’ll be attending the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), from 9 to 12 January, which will be colocated with CES and overlap it on its final day. ICCE is sponsored by the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society.
“Now in its 35th year, ICCE has established itself as the prime home for emerging and nontraditional consumer electronics,” says IEEE Senior Member Francisco J. Bellido, the conference chair.
“Attending ICCE is the best way for a stakeholder in consumer electronics products to visualize the future,” adds Stuart Lipoff, an IEEE Fellow and a member of the conference’s technical program committee. “It exposes technology in the lab that is five years or more from market, providing insight years before such development will meet the cost and performance requirements for affordable consumer products.”
The upcoming conference’s theme—“Internet of Me: Next Gen of Consumer Connectivity”—is all about “how the end user sees the Internet, looking outward toward the world of Internet communications, information, and entertainment,” says Lipoff.
About 200 papers will be presented, covering such topics as services and devices; infrastructure and enabling technologies; entertainment, gaming and AV systems; automotive entertainment and electronics; and energy management.
Several keynote addresses will include one by Petronel Bigioi, the cofounder of FotoNation, in Galway, Ireland, which develops next-generation computational imaging algorithms. He’ll be talking about mobile computer vision and computational photography. Another keynoter will be Peter Hoddie, vice president of the Kinoma division of Marvell Semiconductor and the so-called “father of QuickTime” at Apple. His presentation will focus on rapid programming of embedded systems.
“Keynoters from industry add a lot to the conference and to its industrial appeal,” says Senior Member Tom Coughlin, ICCE’s industrial sessions program chair. “Interactions with industry help academics put their work in context with regard to how it will actually be applied.”
Special sessions, invited sessions, and panel discussions will cover such hot and emerging topics as augmented reality and digital senses, connection technologies for consumer devices, and mobile power.
One session will analyze the best products unveiled at CES as chosen by a panel of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society’s members. Others will cover IEEE activities related to consumer electronics, such as its smart cities and Internet of Things initiatives.
Attendees who want to get their papers published can go to a session that will provide guidance and feedback on how to prepare articles for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics and other IEEE journals.
The 2016 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award for outstanding contributions in the field of consumer electronics technology will be presented at the conference to Steven Sasson for designing and building the first digital still camera, in 1975.
A new addition to this year’s conference is the industrial track, which will offer peer-reviewed articles from engineers and researchers who work not in academia but for consumer electronics–related industries.
“Many IEEE events have good representation from academia, but the roots of the ICCE are in industry,” says Coughlin. “Having industrial participation gives the conference a broader base. And because so much of the fast-paced change in consumer electronics happens in private companies, we want to be sure that the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society keeps its industrial connection.”
The several sessions in this new track include a Technology Time Machine session that will look at various technologies that may affect the consumer electronics industry in 20 to 25 years. It is being organized by the IEEE Future Directions group.
ICCE’s mix of academic and industrial researchers shows companies the real state of the art and opens their minds to new products and services, according to Bellido, an associate professor of electronics engineering at the University of Cordoba, in Spain. “It shows academics that to offer their services to companies, they need to see the companies’ needs—not just tech issues but market and product cycles too. This can give all of us a more realistic approach to making our research lead to real products.”
Such interaction can accelerate progress in many ways. “ICCE brings together engineers who share ideas. These ideas spark from one engineer to another to produce even more ideas during the conference itself,” says Senior Member Richard Doherty, ICCE’s publicity chair and a longtime member of its technical paper committee. “Once a researcher shares an idea that has been proven to work, that removes the doubts and fears that may have kept others from trying it and frees them to build on the idea, speeding up the overall pace of innovation.”
Even engineers outside consumer electronics should be interested in the topics covered, adds Lipoff, who heads IP Action Partners, a consulting company in Boston.
“The technologies in this conference cover every aspect of electronics, from military to consumer,” he says. “Consumer electronics technologies now lead in innovative ideas such as health and wellness sensors, efficient communications technologies, flexible displays, and others that then trickle down to scientific, industrial, and medical applications.
“Tracking consumer electronic technology gives an engineer a heads-up on a state of the art that is cheap, reliable, high-performance, and easy to use,” he continues.