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The annual CES gathering or Consumer Electronics Show, organized by the Consumer technology Association and featuring thousands and thousands of new gadgets was held at Las Vegas from 9th January to 12th January 2018. Every year, the latest innovations from companies and startups (of all sizes), and creative thoughts from business pioneers are showcased at the event. For over 50 years, this had been the testing ground for many of the innovative gadgets that have graced lives presently.

This world gathering has evolved to become a global stage for innovations spanning more than 3900 companies in almost all genres in the field of the technology, including consumer technology hardware, technology delivery systems, content, etc. Every year, more than 170 thousand people from over 150 countries participate in this mega event.

Why is CES Important? Why Should You Check it Out?

The world literally functions on gadgets. As it has made lives easier and faster, companies are always on the lookout for newer gadgets that can think and perform for their clients. The idea of a fridge letting you know that your milk supply is getting low or if you have run out of apples is no longer a distant dream. Creating smart devices is not just the need of the hour anymore, it is a major determinant for saving time and money.

Each year, people need newer devices that make their lives faster, and companies strive hard to conceive sleeker and more accurate devices. This is why the show is different each year, because the devices are getting smarter and faster.

The tech-buying public actually want more, they are not just content with anything new, they want something more - something that awes them, and solves all their problems for them. And they also have some thought-provoking questions like the effects of these gadgets on the brain, the capacity of the brain to focus, how we see the world when the devices do so much, etc. They also want to know the future of their devices, how it can revolutionize their lives and more.

CES 2018 gives an insight into the future. How things are going to be different, what technological advancements are going to rock the world, how people can adopt them in their daily life, and other revelations.

What You Can Expect to See, Hear, and Read in CES 2018

The entire world has focused its eyes on the tech show. What are the new concepts in store for the world? Out of the hundreds of companies and their products, here are couple of them.

Huawei had a new device to showcase at the event. Known as Mate 10 Pro, the device is expected to be sold in the US through Amazon, Best Buy and similar retail channels. The preorders for the luxury phone are expected to start on Feb 4th with the launch from Feb 18th.

Vivo is going to release a phone (not yet named) with the Synaptics FS9500 Clear ID optical sensor embedded between the glass layer and OLED panel.

Now let’s get more technically deeper with the new tech things on the horizon.

1. Amazon Alexa vs Google Assistant

The popularity of Alexa and Google Assistant really topped charts last year. The big trends for the show this year were connected homes, the interest piqued by the explosive popularity of these technologies. However, some of the past themes are going to see a shift when the fascination will move from VR to AR. The biggest winners in this year’s gadget show are these two.

There are some clear examples on Google’s attempt to get the virtual helper into more number of devices and places, and you can see examples of this through Smart Displays built by Lenovo, Sony, LG and JBL. These are almost like Google Home; the only difference is that they have screens as well. Also unveiled are Google’s program extension for Assistant optimised headphones, like the super-quick voice response in the new Bose QC35II.

Automobile users can use Android Auto so they can get directions to a place, control music while driving and so on. The rapidly growing adoption of Google is touted through the thousands of devices you can use it on and the most noted ones include Android TVs, new smart speakers, etc. Of course, many of them aren’t new features, they are only just new and different ways to use Assistant.

As for Alexa, it really made its mark as Virtual Assistant. And Amazon is already working with a number of partners to embed Alexa in other devices. Google has to catch up in this area if it wants to stay in the competition. True, Google Home products like Home, Mini and Max are good enough, but they are just the tip of the iceberg, because the trick lies in being everywhere and doing everything. Once people install an Assistant, it will have to do everything the user expects it to do. They shouldn’t be forced to switch.

Alexa is starting to venture outside its Echo chamber, as evidenced by their presence in several third-party smart home devices like iDevices new Instinct Light Switch, and First Alert's (latest) product, Anker's Eufy Genie smart-home speaker, the OneLink Safe & Sound Smart Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Speaker. Acer and Asus made announcements that they are bringing Alexa to their laptops, a major boost for Amazon.

Worth noting here is that Qualcomm provides support for both Assistant and Alexa for their smart audio platforms.

2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

CES 2018 has been the major platform where healthcare professionals, brand marketers, content producers, sports technologists can use AR/VR for creating immersive experiences. The tent-pole attraction at CES shows for many years, VR or Virtual Reality has backed down a little bit, and there has been an industry shift towards AM/MR. The general consensus is that this is because the jaw-dropping steam that VR generated in 2017 fizzled a bit in 2018, but AR has picked up considerably especially with the phone apps from Google and Apple.

AR is going to be one of the biggest trends in consumer electronics. This has also perked up an increase in third-parties as they can use existing platforms to bring in their devices. Thanks to Augmented Reality, there has been a renewed focus on standalone and wireless headsets.

The buzz that has been generated regarding mixed reality, with a holographic blend of both virtual and real, is yet to become big. But both AR and VR captured many eyeballs, including VR with its promise of better resolution and better cameras. One of the notable technologies introduced in the event is the HTC Vive Pro with its comfier fit, high resolution displays, larger range of movement and wireless capability through Intel WiFi adapter.

Mobile headsets are getting better at tracking through Mirage Solo, Google’s VR and Lenovo collaboration wherein the user can enjoy better motion/room tracking. It doesn’t need a phone.

The trend in Google glasses are getting better and better. It must be a very old concept by now, but with the built-in Amazon Alexa for voice controlled access, the user can enjoy better access to their messages, other information and connected devices. Examples would be Alexa with Vuzix Blade, Rokid (Chinese AI company) and Rocked Glass.

VR is likely to make its presence felt in the Gaming and Virtual Reality Marketplace, with an expected growth of 18%. The AR marketplace is likely to grow by 10% when compared to last year’s growth. Both VR and AR hardware and software are likely to break sales record, so that’s something you have to wait and watch.

3. 5G

Image Credit: CES.Tech

5G is the fifth generation wireless broadband technology based on the 802.11ac standard. So naturally, the speed and coverage will be far better than 4G. There was talk about this technology in the CES 2017 show. The amount of enthusiasm mounted on 5G, when the trio of executives from Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Nokia discussed how 5G could transform almost all the industries in every field, ranging from transportation to manufacturing.

This game changing innovation has been looked upon by the tech manufacturing and tech buying public. Many companies announced that 5G was important enough to bring a massive change in all their product announcements.

Here are some lookouts for 5G after the CES 2018 show:

AT&T is likely to offer 5G in 12 markets by end of 2018. Melissa Arnoldi, president of Technology and Operations at AT&T, said in a statement, “5G will ultimately deliver and enhance experiences like virtual reality, future driverless cars, immersive 4K video and more.”

Internet of Things (IoT) will reach difficult places, and through more automation capabilities.

Verizon is having a broad rollout in 2018, with the first being Sacramento

Samsung’s futuristic car technology by showcasing a digital cockpit where drivers can personalise cars. AT&T has been testing 5G from 2016 and recently announced that it will be launched in 12 markets by late 2018.

5G did take the centerstage this year, but the actual deployments are likely to be found in 2019. Considering the fact that this technology is really ubiquitous, you can enjoy the following benefits - Multiply the speed of the present data connection 10 to 100 times, enhanced security, zero responsiveness delays (latency) to “imperceptible,” and provide an impressive increase in each network’s size.

The carriers would mainly be AT&T, Qualcomm, Samsung, T-Mobile, and Verizon, impacting virtually every industry and making the notion “everything is going to be wireless, not just mobile but basically everywhere” a near possibility. And this includes mission critical services.

4. Robotics and Machine Intelligence

Autonomous machines are transforming the way we live, everywhere. Whether it is at home, work, school, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and more, these machines can do awe-inspiring chores to make your life better. And these robots are doing not just wonders, but miracles, as they are connected to the cloud, mobile devices can control them, and can work intelligently relative to the environment.

In fact, what was once thought impossible is now happening without a second thought. Interestingly, the robots that graced the platform are not destined to replace workers/employees/users. They are created to work alongside people so they can improve quality of life, save time, etc. Robot dogs, laundry folding robots and an incredible robotic smart home manager called CLOi all awed the audience this year.

It might seem a bit comical that you need a robot with multiple arms to pick up clothes and fold them, a simple chore. However, it is also interesting to note that Laundroid is an example of a machine that uses artificial intelligence to fold clothes by accepting the cloth, deciding the best way to fold, and analyze the data regarding the cloth to sort it in many different ways, even analysing it by household member or item. Worth mentioning would be the new age Robby the Robot, where you have a very visible and humanoid home assistant, not anything like the sleek and unseen assistants you’ve seen in the past.

Other examples of Robotics and Machine Intelligence would be:

LG’s three concept robots designed specifically for commercial use.

Honda, capitalising on the three E’s - Empower, Experience & Empathy, has come up with a range of experimental technologies that can improve the life of handicapped people by providing them with devices providing advanced mobility.

And of course, you have the world famous Sophia. This is the perfect example of a robot instigating conversation, and not just responding to commands. Sophia’s creator, Dr. Davis Hanson, looks forward to creating a future where machines have minds. According to him, AI and robotics are still in their infancy, and he is looking forward to taking their intelligence through childhood and adulthood.

5. Conferences on Various Topics

Once the innovative products are showcased on the event floor, the visionary speakers and the industry leaders conduct more than 300 sessions explaining products and emerging trends. This is the perfect platform to engage with experts on diverse topics. Here are some of them:

  • AI and Robotics' Impact on Tomorrow
  • Robotics and AI have introduced the concept of smart workplace, smart homes, smart driving and so on. Smart home assistants that can fold your clothes for you, let you know when you run out of milk, humanoid robotics intended for educational, domestic uses, robotic butler etc. are all on the cards. Big companies like LG Electronics and Samsung are all muscling in with innovations in AI, machine learning and highly sophisticated robots.

    Ina Fried, the Chief Technology Correspondent for Axios, was the moderator for the topic - “The Future of Robots at Work and Home”. Speakers were Carl Vause, CEO of Soft Robotics Inc, Philip Roan, Senior Engineer for Robotics, Bosch and Tsutomu Wakitani, Operating Officer of Honda R&D Co., Honda R&D.

    “The Future of AI” also had a panel of speakers - Cameron Clayton General Manager, IBM Watson Content & IoT Platform, IBM; Al Lindsay VP, Alexa Engine Software, Amazon; and the topic – “The Rise of Machines – Future of AI” had Veronica A. Lancaster, Senior Director, Standards Programs, CTA as moderator and Michael Garris Senior Scientist, Chair NIST AI Community of Interest, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Michael Ludden Director of Product | IBM Watson Developer Labs & AR/VR Labs, IBM; and Adam Newman Sr. Director, Business/Product Development & New Business Operations, IEEE Standards Association as speakers.

  • CONNECTIONS Summit: IoT and the Connected Consumer
  • Homes have become smarter through connected devices. Now you can know where there is a flood at your home, how the traffic will be on your route to work, whether you need to buy milk on your way back and so on.

    The main topics discussed at the event amongst plenty others are Smart Home Platforms, New Findings in Smart Home, Improving the Smart Home Experience through Voice Controlled Smart Speakers, Protection of Consumer Data and Privacy, Security in Smart Homes and so on. Speakers like Brett Worthington VP, Global Business Development & Partnerships, Samsung SmartThings; Gary Praznik Chief Operating Officer, Retail and Consumer Services, iQor; Nana Murugesan Vice President and General Manager, Samsung Electronics America spoke at the super sessions.

  • Revolutionizing Consumer Electronics with Voice
  • The CES event rammed home the idea that voice is the next major revolution in computing. Companies (like Microsoft, Google and Amazon) are not only broadening their spectrum to embed voice assistants in their technologies, but are also striving hard to maintain and deepen customer engagement.

    Customers interacting with devices though voice commands are not something seen only in movies or games anymore. It is happening in the real world, especially where Alexa is involved through Alexa Skills Kit, Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Gadgets. The main topics discussed at the conference involve the techniques of integrating Alexa into consumer devices, adding voice control to the products, automating a quickly evolving auto industry, and the complete art and science of an Alexa Conversation.

    A number of speakers are expressing their views at the event, including David Isbitski Chief Evangelist, Amazon Alexa; Mike Maas Senior Evangelist, Alexa, Amazon; Cami Williams Evangelist, Alexa Skills Kit, Amazon; Donn Morrill Solutions Architect, Alexa Voice Service, Amazon and many more.

  • AR|VR|MR: Digital Reality Delivers ROI
  • In a surprisingly short period of time, AR and VR made a significant impact on the technology markets. Dedicated hardware and software for AR, VR and MR (Mixed Reality) has are going to break the entire sales record in 2018. The speakers emphasised on the importance of understanding the content and technology involved in AR and VR, only then would people really be able to use the wearables and the voice search. The technology has moved beyond gaming to healthcare, education and beyond.

    The conference talks about the experiences of industry leaders in driving consumer adoption, possible advancements made in AR, VR and MR to be released in 2018, major market enablers and accelerators, and so on. Speakers like Jay Samit, Independent Vice Chairman, Deloitte; Eric Qian Head of Strategic Focus Areas, Business Innovation, Ericsson; Bill Briggs Chief Technology Officer, Deloitte; Alex Hern Co-CEO and Founder, Tsunami and plenty more expressed their views at the event.

Conclusion

Each year, the tech world looks forward to new innovations and trending ideas at the CES show. For them, the whole world is like a sci-fi movie that’s just come true. The main tech trends to watch out for are Voice Assistants for shopping, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Facial Recognition on the Go, Robotics and 5G.

With these, people can trust their sensors to watch their home while they are away, play ping pong with a robot, drive their car for them, robots that read, personal robots, robots for pool inspection, etc. Practically everything is there on the show, right from 8k televisions to connected fridges and self-driving cars. It is a show where things happen, and when they do happen, it really makes a difference in the world.

Interested in implementing Internet of Things for your next product? We are here to help you!

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