Upcoming 2019 Trade Show Season in the USA

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4. 3D printing will take on an ever-increasing role in all types of manufacturing well beyond what was expected just a year ago; health maintenance, medical diagnoses, and treatment advances will make amazing progress; and 3D printing of prosthetics will become common.

See my recent column “3D Printing and Medical Electronics: A Disruptive Beneficial Technology” in the November 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine. No doubt this is true. 3D printing may be one of the most disruptive manufacturing technologies ever. 3D printing PCBs is now becoming an established alternative process with the finished boards having advantages over the last half-century of plate or print-and-etch processes.

5. VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), as well as mixed reality, will be in wide use for many everyday applications, and it will happen fast.

Again, this is true. We have come a long way from Google Glass to the use of XR (extended reality, previously called VR and AR) for far more than games and entertainment. If this is a topic that interests you, read our coverage of AWE 2018 (see Further Reading at the end of this article). It will not be long before it will be easy for you to do your own repairs or upgrades on devices in your home or business, not by calling a technician but by putting on your XR headset and having an on-call technician talk you through the process while observing what you do and showing you how to do it. Also, sitting around a virtual table with a gathering of holographic images of associates or friends is about to become commonplace within the next two years. Very powerful GPUs and the inclusion of ray tracing and 5G connections will make this almost easy to do.

6. There will be some setbacks in the march to autonomous automotive use, but it will happen soon.

This prediction will happen, but the march to widespread autonomous transportation seems to have slowed; however, keep that in context (Figure 4). It has slowed from hypersonic speed to just plain jet speed. There have been a few accidents, and machine-learning capabilities and the ability to communicate with other autonomous vehicles regarding road and traffic conditions and hazards is not quite up to speed. Just wait an additional year or two and see what happens when 5G becomes more commonplace and gives the autonomous transportation universe the ability to communicate and adjust instantly. Advances in AI, machine learning, and 5G will totally change transportation over the next decade. This is one area that will get a lot of focus at CES, the Detroit Auto show, and the executive forum on advancing automotive electronics at IPC APEX EXPO 2019.


Figure 4: Autonomous car for the masses at CES 2017.

As you can see, it did not take a genius to make these predictions, as they virtually all came true. Next year we will see how good my 2019 projections are. CES will be an indication of what will become reality in the coming year as some of what we expect—or in some cases, do not yet expect—to happen will be announced, shown, or at least indicated that it is coming. In addition to what has already been mentioned, we have the not yet fully cataloged capabilities of new ray tracing graphics cards from NVIDIA, new CPUs from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel, new highly capable and much lower cost drones, as well as all of the “Shark-Tank-like” announcements and showings at the Showstoppers event at CES, and so much more.

CES Details and Announcements

To set the stage, one must realize that CES is one of the largest events of its kind globally, and it seems to grow exponentially every year (Figures 5 and 6). There will be over 4,400 exhibiting companies as well as many additional non-official exhibitors. By non-official, I mean those that rent hotel rooms or suites and are not officially part of the show, but come to Las Vegas that week to show their wares anyway.


Figure 5: CES 2014 exhibition.


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