CES2018: Reflections and Looking Forward

After a few days’ rest and some time to digest my experiences at CES 2018 last week, one things for certain: we are moving at a consistent and fast pace into some pretty amazing times. And I’m not talking about robots. Well, maybe I am… as long as they do not call me “master”, because that’s just weird.

No, I’m talking about the convergence of technology advancements that are all happening at once. In previous years, many felt overhyped. But now I feel certain in my prediction that my kids won’t need to learn to drive a car. It’s like we are headed to a new point on the horizon. And it’s going to be glorious… well, and quite scary for some.

AI is the new data

Last year’s CES was overrun with sensors providing data and metrics. Now artificial intelligence is here to provide the big “so-what” to all that data. AI enabled was the term to use when talking about personalization for all manner of items ranging from sports to health to food. While AI is the underlying tech connecting all the items below, 5G is providing the bandwidth.

Everything is connected

Sensors, IoT, whatever… now my toilet is connected and my baby’s bottle is tracking feeding.

The connected home was in full swing at CES. And, as opposed to last year, “smartified” products told a more complete story. Of course to a hub/each other, but also to content services like how whirlpool partners with yummly or how a folding clothes machine wants to be your fashion expert. And how will we interact? While many of the appliances sported touch screens, the dominate interface was voice.

Voice is the Interface

Since Alexa boomed onto the CES stage last year, we’ve been talking about the emergence of the conversational interface. Well, it’s here. Prior to the show, there was tons of discussion about who would win? Alexa or Google Home…. Despite Google’s best effort, I still felt Alexa had the upper hand with integrations, shopping, and being embedded in household objects. But a greater feeling was how similar the situation was to iOS v Android and there’s room for both (maybe Bixtby as well?) to coexist. With the rise of voice, inevitable questions come up like how will it impact mobile usage (people will use mobile less) and what does it mean for brands (a voice driven world will be a game changer).

Autonomous vehicles are close

Yes. I know they are actually here. But they are getting closer to being a reality for me. And I can’t stop thinking about how it will impact delivery. It’s become easy to imagine my Amazon/Blue Apron/Pizza packages will be delivered by a self-piloted shipping pod (Dominos and Ford partnered to show a pizza test solution right out of a recent Black Mirror episode).

We aren’t getting enough rest

Last year, we weren’t drinking enough water. “High tech” water bottles were everywhere. This year, AI driven mediation, sleep, and rest technology was peppered throughout.

The evolution from “I bought it online” to “it’ll be here in 2 days” to “it’ll to here in 2 hours” is on the trajectory to “Ben, this is your future assistant. Just letting you know I saw you had a stressful day. Your kid will be home from practice on Pod XYZ in 45 minutes. She has not done her homework yet. I’ve warmed up the shower for you to relax in and have picked out the family dinner for the evening. The ingredients are in the fridge.”

Or maybe it won’t say that. It will just do those things as we move from convenience and personalization to prediction.

Written by: Ben Gauthier, TPN VP, Innovation + Technology

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