Where the Future of Home Entertainment Is Heading
The resurgence of the TV show’s reign over the box office might be the best thing that’s happened to home entertainment tech in the last decade. Now, as we settle deep into our couches to stream docs on Netflix and freak out over Game of Thrones finales, we need home theater gadgets (again) that make every scene and playlist sound better and look better. In 2017, home entertainment spending in the US surpassed $20 billion, so from the soundbar to the furniture you’re parking on every night, the future of home theater tech continues to explode. Here’s a few home entertainment trends you could see in your living room before the self-driving car even gets here.
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IN AR/VR GETS A 5G BOOST
With the next phase of AR/VR, sports fanatics could be able to watch a game from the POV of a quarterback or feel like they’re actually Messi striking a game-winning PK. Thanks to 5G, enjoying live events from home with AR/VR is about to get more real -- and faster. Like, downloading a two-hour movie in just 3.6 seconds and with 100x the speed of 4G LTE kind of fast. Poorly demonstrated by the 2018 Winter Olympics, AR/VR applications in live events had previously been a let down, hampered by visible delays and poor resolution. But with 5G coming as soon as... well, now, this network evolution has the power to bridge these latency gaps and enable headsets and AR glasses to get us to feel like we’re really at a game or a concert the way we’ve always envisioned them to.
EVEN HOME THEATER FURNITURE IS GETTING SMARTER
Home theater is no longer restricted to what dramatic moment is happening on-screen. Your upholstered accessories are getting in on the act now, too. Consider the Sobro smart coffee table, equipped with both a movie-night ready refrigerator and touch screens to control lighting and sound. Even your cushion isn’t immune to this smart theater upgrade. These motion-sensored couches react to every insane explosion in the next Avengers flick. Now will somebody build one with handle grips so we can literally hold onto our seats?
FROM THE REMOTE TO AI VOICE DOMINATION
Even though it feels like Alexa has already taken over our homes, smart speakers and voice recognition have seriously only been around for a blink of an eye. Just like the remote saved Americans from getting up to turn a handheld knob on the TV every single time they wanted to change a channel, voice recognition will eventually eliminate the need to navigate a keyboard with the Roku remote like some kind of savage. With 50% of all searches expected to be completed via voice by 2020, using a clicker to scroll through Netflix will eventually be exclusively used for pushing a button just to speak to your device or talking to our dear friend Alexa. Thanks to voice advancements only becoming more sophisticated, conversations and voice control with AI speakers and smart TVs could evolve from single-line inquiries requesting a song to full-on convos about what genre is the best mood for your house party.
WHAT'S OLD BECOMES NEW AGAIN (AND BETTER)
From hi-fi record players, to battery-operated typewriters, to sleek analog headphones, re-vamped tech of yesterday is only going to continue to find its way back into our living rooms -- and entertainment is at the forefront. With the number of Internet-connected “things” set to explode to 50 billion devices by 2020 (seriously), the nostalgic tech and media we let slip into obsolescence is relevant again over wireless connections, cloud media servers, $1K soundbars, HD TVs, and advanced bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces. Sure, the old systems worked, but whatever is new is what makes this tech relevant again. Just don’t hold your breath for the return of computers that run on cassette tapes.
The ostentatious, clunky home theater (and now thankfully, the imposing design) of the 20th century has literally vanished in our homes. Screens and bluetooth-enabled speakers now blend in as modern, wafer-thin decor, art, and recessed fixtures. By 2020, LCD screens will become antique, as paper-thin displays could completely take over anything in our homes with a screen. Speaking of those...
THE IMPENDING BATTLE BETWEEN OLED & QLED
With the 3D TV fad officially dead, the focus is back to who can make the color of a standard 2D display mirror as close to IRL as possible. Welcome to the boxing match between OLED vs. QLED display. Sure, you might not notice at first a huge color difference binge-watching Planet Earth on an OLED TV vs. a QLED set, but the tech between these two displays functions completely differently. In a nutshell: OLED claims truer black, while QLED stakes out superior color. OLED screens instead use individual pixels to produce and control their own light with no blacklight involved. Supposedly QLED TVs can match the absolute black levels of an OLED screen using a backlight to light up more “perfect” colors. These two screen displays will also set the tone for the future of the 8K TV, too. The battle’s set to be heated, but whoever comes out on top, our eyeballs are the real winners.