On Sunday I head to CES, and while some think the big tech show has jumped the shark, I'm excited for the first time in years.
Why? Because this year we're on the cusp of seeing some interesting technology that could finally spur adoption (and actual usage) of smart TVs after what seemed like a lost year in the category.
Here are a few of the technologies I expect to help reinvigorate the smart TV market in 2013:
A lot of folks think the one thing Apple TV has going for it is it's mirroring technology, AirPlay and, well, they're pretty much right.
Outside of Microsoft's Smartglass technology, most others don't have an answer to AirPlay, at least until now.
But that's about to change. Miracast, the mirroring technology based on Wi-Fi Direct, is about to become a lot more widely available, as chip companies like Intel, Broadcom, Nvidia and others ship chipsets with Miracast capabilities and TV manufacturers like LG begin to adopt it into their devices. Google is also on board, having built Miracast support into the latest version of Jellybean.
The only thing that might slow down Miracast is the fact it's not really backwards compatible, which leads me to the next technology trend...
While 2013 might not like it, I might just have to call it the year of the stick. That's because sticks like those from Roku and a number of upstarts will be start to see adoption, and we will also see these stick turn some of the fairly large installed base of HDTVs into smart TVs (as well as give smart TV 1.0 units new capabilities like, well, Miracast).
I also think that Google will likely soon come out with their own smart TV stick, and it could be either Android@Home or Google TV (while Android@Home has been pronounced dead by some, my sources at Google tell me it is still very much alive).
While most smart TVs today have 802.11n, expect in six months to see many of them move to the faster 802.11ac. While some see the the gigabit speeds of 802.11ac as an embarrassment of bandwidth riches in the living room, I think the tech could be good for low-latency communication between second screen devices and for high-definition video distribution, as well as because it has native support of (what else) Miracast.
Bluetooth TV? Yep. With all the second screen devices and augmented reality devices like Google Glass, Bluetooth - a fairly old technology at this point - might get sexy again. TV OEMs are asking their chip providers for dual Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chips, and I expect more TVs to have Bluetooth in the latter half of 2013.
This is another one many didn't expect, but with Nintendo's Wii U on-board NFC capability and TV manufacturers looking to pair their sets with NFC enabled smartphones, you can expect more than just LG to ship NFC enabled TVs this year.
The announcements are about to begin (or they've already begun: Westinghouse is shipping a Roku enabled TV).
Here comes a week of smart TV madness. I'll see you at CES.