The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a fanfare for all sectors of tech enthusiasts to lap up new offerings from major brands and startups alike. This year I’m extremely excited to be experiencing it in-person, along with the roughly 180,000 other attendees descending upon Las Vegas.
In advance of the Exhibit Hall opening, Monday’s Research Summit offered various presentations and panel discussions around technology and its impact on consumers, and every aspect of our lives, across the globe.
Four key themes quickly emerged: Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Voice and Privacy/Security.
Steve Koenig, VP Research at the Consumer Technology Association, opened by declaring we are in a new age of technology trends: the Data Age. We progressed from the Digital Age in the 2000s to the Connected Age in the 2010s and have now arrived in the Data Age, where data is central to all our tech conversations. I would argue it is central in all our conversations – business, government, and culture (see my recent blog on 2019 trends).
Artificial Intelligence (AI) unsurprisingly received a lot of attention. It is not a new technology by any means, but its possibilities are beginning to become a reality. Koenig cited a McKinsey report that likens the importance of AI to the locomotive steam engine in terms of global economic impact. The most visible form of AI is digital assistants and this leads us to the third theme: voice.
Talking to technology is a marked change in consumer behavior. Voice is the new interface, with smart speakers becoming one of the fastest adopted new technologies to date. According to Tom Webster from Edison Research, 53 million Americans now own a smart speaker. These speakers are the ‘tale of the mundane’, being used in an assortment of tasks throughout the day, from checking the weather to ordering household supplies, making lives easier and eventually becoming indispensable in people’s routines.
Finally, with the advent of this Data Age, the omnipresent digital assistants listening for our commands and documenting our lives, along with the explosion of other Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, privacy, and security are notable questions. In the AIG session on IoT and security, a panelist commented that we are on the ‘cusp of a global security pandemic’. Sensationalist – maybe not. There are untold, meaty questions that need to be answered around the currency of data, who owns it, how it is used, and how people can be both informed and protected.
So the stage is set for Day Two and I can’t wait to view the offerings in the Exhibit Halls.