Trends observed at CES 2014

For the fourth consecutive year, Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams is guest blogging from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

No one would dispute that change accompanies new technology, but early detection and implementation of the changes that technology eventually demand are not easy. If you fail to detect and implement the required changes, it can be fatal to your business. At CES, this is called “disruptive innovation.”

CES 2014 is the forty-seventh gathering of persons and businesses involved in consumer electronics. One of the main reasons they have been coming over these years is to see the technology, compare it to their own, predict the coming changes, and decide what steps are needed to adjust and go forward successfully. Here are some consumer electronic trends resulting from new technologies, evident at CES 2014, which are already changing the industry.

1. Automakers Race into Connectivity

Driving is an entirely different experience from what is what just ten years ago. In-car navigation systems, videos in the back seat for kids, and cell phone calls through the “radio speakers” are now commonplace. The arrival of smart phones, however, has provided the impetus to dramatically change the opportunities and experience for the driver.

Automakers are equipping their new cars with Bluetooth and wireless high-speed communications capabilities and touch-screens that allow the driver to connect as she would with an iPhone, hands free. The primary design criteria for these in-car connectivity systems are minimal driver disruption.

The effects of these developments were evident at CES 2014. Chrysler, which was out front with its Uconnect system in 2010, is now providing voice texting/dictation and direct connections to 911 and roadside services. General Motors and Audi have teamed up with AT&T to provide drivers with AT&T’s built-in 4G LTE (long term evolution) wireless service; new Chevrolets are expected to be selling with this capability in the latter part of 2014. Ford displayed its proprietary in-dash wireless connection system called “Ford Sync TDK.” BMW permitted CES attendees to test drive its all-electric i3 vehicle, but this was more about performance than connectivity.

A favorite at CES 2014 is the Driverless Car Experience sponsored by Bosch and held on the lot outside the Convention Center. Sometimes called “autonomous/automated” driving, the experience includes parking assist, collision avoidance, and emergency braking. California, Nevada, and Florida have indicated a willingness to permit driverless cars.

2. TV’s and More TV’s – Yet Higher Resolution

Curved TVs

Curved televisions tower over a display at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. (The Daily Record/Frank Gorman)

The biggest buzz this year, however, was about TV! The surprise is that TV’s continue to draw such overwhelming attention. CES 2014 has bigger TV’s up to 105 inches (8 feet and 9 inches), curved TV’s, and 4K Ultra HD TV’s.

The “4K” refers to resolution of the picture. It is the same resolution as “Ultra HD.” In past years, resolution was measured by the number of pixels in the vertical resolution. Now the manufacturers have switched to promoting horizontal resolution, and a 4K TV has a horizontal resolution of nearly 4000 pixels and a vertical resolution of 2000 pixels. The clarity of a 4K screen is impressive and is equal to cinema quality. LG, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are displaying KK TV’s.

The TV’s were also curved (as were some of the smart phones). Some TV’s have fixed curvatures; others are flexible in that the remote can activate the sides to pull inward about 15 degrees. The curved TV’s bring all the light and color toward the eyes of the viewer, but video gamers may give the most enthusiastic reception to curved screen because it enhances peripheral vision.

Combining all of these features is Samsung’s 105 inch, curved, 4K Ultra HD TV – the largest of its kind in the world. No one knows when the “push” (more than a trend now) for bigger and more resolution will end.

3. Electronic Sensors

Many of the products at CES 2014 incorporate sensor technology, which has been become one of the most important technologies in consumer electronics. Digital health and fitness products rely on sensors, and home security devices and even some TV controls rely on sensors.

A leading sensor technology is MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), and a wide variety of MEMS have been developed. Advances in sensors technology were highlighted in the MotionTech zone.

The combination of improving sensors, internet connectivity, and wearable are resulting in a wide range of new products. Some fashionable tech gadgets have been worn on bodies over the years, but it is the advancements in sensor technology that is expanding the wearable device market.

4. Altering the Business Model

At CES 2014, you can see new technologies altering the business models of some very successful companies.

Microsoft once dominated operating systems and business software. Competition and technological changes in the internet, mobile communications and access, and delivery of content now have Microsoft moving rapidly to change. For example, Microsoft’s Xbox One now has apps that are used to connect viewers to video streaming and downloading services, such Hulu Plus, ESPN, Univision, and others. Microsoft is also moving into content creation with an agreement to work with Steven Spielberg on production of a TV series. (Microsoft’s Surface tablet was nowhere at CES 2014!)

Bosch, a Germany-based engineering and electronics company, was the world’s largest supplier of automotive components in 2011. Bosch may be changing this behind-the scenes approach to automotive electronics. This year was Bosch’s second appearance as an exhibitor at CES. With consumers looking for in-car systems that work with their smart phones, and automakers now developing in-car systems around smart phones, it makes sense for Bosch to be out front with the consumers who are demanding connectivity in the car.

Sleep number

Sleep Number’s booth marks the bed company’s first appearance at CES. (The Daily Record/Frank Gorman)

The New York Times, American Express, and Sleep Number Beds (making its first appearance) are other examples of exhibitors at CES 2014 promoting their businesses in ways you might not have expected.

5. Mobile Device Security

As businesses and individuals continue to do more on mobile devices, security becomes more important. At CES 2014, Samsung promoted its mobile device management (MDM) system called “Samsung KNOX,” a welcome but unusual step because mobile security has not been a front page concern for the consumer electronic industry.

KNOX is an Android-based collection of apps that can be installed by an IT administrator of a company or by an individual on her own mobile device. Presently, it is only offered for Samsung’s high-end mobile devices. It allows the user to separate (or to layer) personal data from business data. The business data can be in an encrypted state while it resides on the smart phone or tablet. It remains encrypted until it reaches the company’s server, where the data is un-encrypted. There are other security features as well, such as preventing the capture of a screen shot.

For sure, KNOX is not the only MDM that can provide an enterprise or an individual mobile security. Apple’s iOS is reportedly provides more security than Android. Microsoft offers MS-MDM, but most mobile devices do not use a Microsoft operating system. There are relatively unknown MDM providers that began providing MDM’s before Samsung, such as Divide/The Secure Workplace, Mformation, and Absolute Manage. Enthusiasm for MDM’s can wane in the face of the prices charged by Samsung and other providers for the system.

Samsung, however, has detected that the mobile landscape is changing and that the importance of mobile security may be increasing. Perhaps not a brilliant detection (just read about Target and other commercial security breaches), but Samsung’s promotion of mobile security may spur the entire industry.

Frank Gorman is a partner at Gorman & Williams where he practices Intellectual Property law.

In-House Interrogatory

For general counsels, it’s always business. Not personal.

Godfather_puppetmasterOr so Tom Hagen, the adviser to The Godfather in the film trilogy, would say.

Attorney Daniel Doktori, who is an associate in the emerging companies practice at WilmerHale in New York City, said in an article that the role of general counsel at a start-up company is much like the role of consigliere, the position made famous by Hagan, played by Robert Duvall, in The Godfather film series.

“Being general counsel is like being Tom Hagen in The Godfather – you’re a Consigliere,” said a New York City lawyer quoted in the article. “You need to understand where the founders are coming from – the sacrifices they had to go through to build their business.”

Doktori says start-ups hire attorneys who will be able to fit into the company culture of taking risks.

Here’s our question for you:

Do you agree with this philosophy? Is your job equatable to the (legal) version of the Corleone family’s consigliere?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • A lawsuit seeking to remove Jacksonville’s general counsel from office has been dropped.
  • Deutsche Bank names a new co-deputy general counsel for Germany.
  • Halliburton’s general counsel retired and the company filled the position at the beginning of the year.
  • A former Air Force general counsel was appointed as Homeland Security secretary.

Follow us on Twitter for In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse

2014 Consumer Electronics Show overview

For the fourth consecutive year, Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams is guest blogging from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Given the deep freeze back East, the first thing you notice upon arrival in Las Vegas are the near-60 degrees temperature and the palm trees. At the Las Vegas Convention Center, more than 150,000 persons are gathering this week for CES 2014, where you are quickly consumed by the vast array of exhibitors, technologies and products.

There are 3,200 exhibitors filling almost 2 million square feet of space at the Convention Center, the adjacent Las Vegas Hotel and the Venetian. Most of the major players in consumer electronic products and services are here – Samsung, LG, Intel, Sony, Verizon, DISH, Yahoo, Monster and automobile manufacturers, to name a few. Several majors are absent, notably Apple, Microsoft and AT&T. The bulk of the exhibitors are smaller developers, manufacturers and sellers of everything from batteries to electronic guitars, satellite systems to sensors. There is a lot to see.

Jefferson Graham, Tim Westergren and Tom Conrad

Jefferson Graham, left, of USA Today interviews Pandora founder Tim Westergren, center, and Chief Technology Officer Tom Conrad. (Photo by Frank Gorman)

CES 2014 is organized around 27 “techzones” that feature emerging products, services and companies centered in new technology markets. The new techzones this year are 3D Printing, Driverless Cars, FashionWare, Wrist Revolution and Academia TECH. Also, there are conference programs on a variety of topics including broadband, robotics, digital health and connecting to the cloud. With some advance planning, you can be sure to see and learn about the technologies and products of interest.

The keynote speakers on Tuesday were Kazuo Hirai of Sony, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo and John Chambers of Cisco. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will speak on economic growth and spurring innovation and research in the digital economy.

Most exciting was Tuesday’s presentation by Mayer and her team at Yahoo. She announced bold new plans for Yahoo, including a smart phone app that automatically brings up information tailored to the user and a twice-daily news feed (Yahoo News Digest) compiled by computer. Mayer is remaking Yahoo’s internet business and positioning Yahoo to compete with Google’s mobile search technology.

Finally, behind CES 2014 is the strength and scope of the Consumer Electronics Association located in Arlington, Virginia. Gary Shapiro has been president of the association for many years. The association promotes the consumer electronics industry, develops technical standards that insure products work and are compatible with other devices and takes on controversial issues like patent suits brought by “patent trolls.” The association has a staff of approximately 100 employees.

The next dispatch will address some of the market trends evident at CES 2014.

Frank Gorman is a partner at Gorman & Williams where he practices Intellectual Property law.

Appeals court gives red light to speed camera lawsuit

James Liskow

James Liskow (File photo)

Bowie lawyer James Liskow beat a speed camera ticket in Montgomery County three years ago based on what was essentially a typo.

In a nutshell, the law as written required police to include with the citation the county plan describing the location of the speed camera and a signed certificate showing the camera passed an annual inspection — “a phone book full of artifacts” as Liskow told me at the time.

A similar due process argument was made in a putative class-action lawsuit against the towns of Riverdale Park and Forest Heights, filed in April 2012 in U.S. District Court, with Liskow representing the plaintiffs. A federal judge granted a defense motion for summary judgment in November 2012, finding in part that he could not enforce state constitutional laws.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel for 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the lower-court ruling, finding the plaintiffs’ due process rights had not been violated.

“Appellants fail to identify any element of the disputed procedures that equate to egregious official conduct unjustified by the state interest in traffic enforcement,” the opinion states. “…Any flaws in the citation or enforcement process could have been challenged in the state courts, and Appellants failed to do so.”

The appellate court similarly rejected an argument that electronic signatures on citations cannot be admitted as sworn testimony at trial because it is unknown whether the testimony is based on “personal knowledge, information and belief.”

Finally, the appellate panel found citations do not need to be sent via certified mail to satisfy due process.

“[N]othing presented to us indicates that the United States Postal Service delivers certified mail at a rate so superior to that of first-class mail that we should declare first-class mail not reasonably calculated to provide actual notice,” the opinion states.

Law blog roundup

FootballWelcome to Monday, the last day of the college-football season. Here are some news items to kickoff the week.

– A registered sex offender seeks admission to the Kentucky bar.

– Texas mayor ignites church-state controversy.

– States propose solutions to problems in public-defender systems.

– A columnist becomes a casualty of the gun debate.

 

Cecil County shake-up

judgecartoonThough Cecil County may be under half a foot of snow today, its court system is plowing ahead with some administrative changes.

Judge Keith A. Baynes was named administrative judge of the Cecil County Circuit Court at the beginning of this year by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, according to a news release from the Maryland Judiciary.

Judge V. Michael Whelan is going back to the bench full time after serving as administrative judge since October 2010.

Baynes has been a judge on the Cecil County Circuit Court since January 2011. He is the presiding judge of the drug treatment court.

Justice denied, delayed due to ice, snow

Prince George's County CourthouseThe wheels of justice have grounded to a halt at the following courthouses, which will not open today due to the wintry weather:

Baltimore City Circuit and district courts; Baltimore County Circuit and district courts; Charles County Circuit and district court; and the Talbot County Circuit Court.

Justice will be delayed at many other county courts, which will open or have opened later than usual today. For a complete list, visit the Maryland Judiciary’s website.

Crime doesn’t pay but it might not harm your reelection chances

News came out Thursday that U.S. Rep.  Trey Radel, R-Fla., will be returning to Capitol Hill next week after a leave of absence. Radel, you may remember, pleaded guilty in November for possession of cocaine and is under investigation from by the House Ethics Committee for his drug use.

Trey Radel

Rep. Trey Radel

With Radel’s reelection prospects uncertain, potential challengers are weighing their options and opposition money begins to flow into southwest Florida.

Could Radel win reelection, though? It wouldn’t be the first time a politician in trouble with the law was kept in office. (A certain politician in Toronto will be testing this theory in October, too.) Which brings us to this gem of a footnote brought to my attention by my former TDR colleague, Andy Marso, on Twitter.

It concerns an appeal by Percy Z. Giles, a longtime Chicago alderman who was sentenced to more than three years in jail in 2001 for racketeering and mail fraud, among other charges.

Giles won a special election for his seat in 1986 and won four-year terms in 1987, 1991, 1995 and 1999, according to an opinion by 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals written by the late Judge Terence T. Evans. Giles prevailed in the ’99 election “despite the fact he was under the dark cloud of the indictment in this case,” Evans wrote, prompting the judge to include the following footnote:

In the old days, an indictment charging 13 felonies would have been the kiss of death for a politician. Apparently that is no longer the case.

The appellate court upheld Giles’ conviction.

(Evans, it should also be noted, was no stranger to a good footnote.)

T-shirt satirist, NSA nearing settlement?

NSA-Listens-Peeping_web-300x184

Dan McCall’s parody of the National Security Agency seal, above, was pulled off a printer’s website due to a cease-and-desist letter it received from the agency. (Courtesy of Paul Alan Levy)

Dan McCall soon might not have reason to sell his “Censored by the NSA” and “Censored by the DHS” T-shirts anymore.

Back in October, McCall, a Minnesota activist, sued the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security for violating his First Amendment rights when they issued cease-and-desist letters against his merchandise.

McCall is the proprietor of LibertyManiacs.com, which sells T-shirts, mugs and posters, many with satirical images he creates. One of his creations, from earlier this year, placed a slogan below the NSA’s official seal: “The only part of the government that actually listens.”

Now, both sides “are currently in discussion to resolve the case,” according to a court filing Friday by the government agencies. The agencies have asked for the deadline to respond to the complaint be moved to the middle of February. McCall’s lawyer agreed Tuesday to extend the deadline, according to the filing.

The agencies’ response was supposed to be due Jan. 6.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marvin J. Garbis had not made a decision on the motion as of Friday afternoon.