Last week CES, the world’s biggest consumer electronics show, descended once again upon Las Vegas, bringing with it 3,900 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 attendees spread across more than 2.75 million square feet of exhibit space — the largest show floor in the conference’s 51-year history. With a tsunami of news coverage, 860,732 tweets about CES 2018 and 450,554 uses of #CES2018, we’ve cut through the noise (and the darkness of the Las Vegas Convention Center) to identify the key trends poised to transform the global tech ecosystem in the coming years. Here are our five top learnings from CES 2018:
1. Consumer Brands are Betting Big on Artificial Intelligence
While industry experts have been waxing poetic on AI’s potential to solve the world’s greatest problems for years, at CES we saw brands (e.g., like Hyundai with its Intelligent Personal Agent, YouTube with its new AI-driven recommendations, and LG, through its AI platform to help our smart home devices become smarter) learning to deploy AI for consumers to perform specific, often tedious tasks. With many artificially intelligent solutions (like Google Assistant which took over what seemed like the entire Las Vegas strip throughout the conference) already in market and hundreds of others approaching in the wings, consumers are finally realizing the tangible benefit of AI on their personal lives.
2. Integration is the Name of the Game when it Comes to Voice Assistants
It was impossible to ignore the explosion of virtual assistants at this year’s show. However, most notable was that neither Amazon nor Google announced any new products of their own. Instead, each rolled out a slew of technology partners enabling voice-assistance support into speakers, headphones, TVs, car dashboards, and even showers. The rise of virtual assistants is sure to provide the smart home industry with new life and relevance in today’s consumer landscape.
3. Consumer Robotics isn’t yet Ready for Prime Time
While tech giants were eager to show off how robots can eliminate the menial chores from our day-to-day – like folding clothes or interfacing with appliances – their robotic creations were less than obliging. Both on the show floor and in live demos at press conferences we saw countless robot malfunctions, LG’s stage fright-struck CLOi for example, proving that the dawn of the robots isn’t upon us…yet.
4. The Drive Towards Autonomy – for Everything that Moves
Autonomous vehicles were pervasive at CES 2018: Self-driving Lyft and Aptiv cars ushered attendees from the airport; Toyota previewed its e-Palette concept allowing autonomous vehicles to be seamlessly shareable between people and businesses; Intel demoed an autonomous helicopter during its CES keynote. While CES is designed to present a vision of the future, this year we learned that autonomous vehicles are very much of the present.
5. Major Companies are Refraining from Sharing Big News at CES
This year may have been CES’ biggest yet in terms of physical space, but major disclosures from large brands were noticeably absent overall. Increasingly, the world’s largest consumer electronics companies are opting to time major releases with their own events over battling the clutter of the CES news frenzy, with many using the conference instead to tease upcoming announcements.
Caitlin Stewart is an account manager, Technology, specializing in Earned Media, Toronto.