Takeaways from CES 2017
Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… Now that CES 2017 is over we take a look at some of the big trends to come out of Sin City at this year’s show.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is where companies go to show off their latest and greatest, and with new innovations in IoT communications, big data, robotics, and other areas finally trickling down to products that are actually for sale, it appears the future, the one we’ve been hearing about for years now, in which robots actually do productive work and the Internet of Things really takes off – is nearly upon us. How useful that future will be and how much of an impact these products will have on daily life is yet to be determined. The thing about CES is that it’s so big, some 4,000 companies presented tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of products, so it’s difficult to isolate the “top trends.” Everything from advanced robots to ostensibly old-fashioned desktop PCs were on display, and there are advances in each of the those areas that outdo anything that came before. Still, there were some trends that were more exciting and popular than others. Here are some of the ones that we picked up on:
Smart Cars Are Ready for Prime Time
No longer just for the electronics and cellphone people, CES is now a showcase for the latest in automotive tech, mostly because cars are quickly becoming computers on wheels, in essence giant devices akin to smartphones. Volkswagen, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and others presented concept cars loaded with tech, many of them capable of autonomous driving, and most of them electric. The idea of a concept car, of course, is to introduce various technologies that will be applied in whole, or part, to new cars coming out on the market in the near future. Many of these technologies are ready for the market right now. Toyota’s Concept-I car, for example, includes self-braking technology for use even when the vehicle is being driven manually. This is a step beyond the warning systems like MobilEye, which beeps when a driver gets too close to the vehicle ahead (and which was a concept not too long ago, as well). The Honda NeuV includes systems that can “check on the driver’s emotional well-being, make music recommendations based on mood, and support the owner’s daily driving routine,” according to the company. And the vehicle display by Mercedes, the AMG C63 S Coupe, with a rash of various technologies (WiFi, automatic collision prevention, automatic braking) is already available to the public.
Voice Control on the Rise
Thank big data and advanced analysis techniques for the growth of voice as an interface. According to Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association (the group that runs CES), there’s been “more progress in this technology in the last 30 months than we saw in the first 30 years, “ with the word error rate for voice-recognition systems falling from 43 percent in 1995 to just 6.3 percent this year – almost the same as for humans. Products on display at CES pushed the envelope on the advanced voice-recognition technology that Apple, Microsoft, and Google have been promoting for several years now.
The Internet of Things is growing by leaps and bounds, and devices that record and upload user data for analysis and improved performance – like smart toothbrushes, smart mirrors, even smart hairbrushes – were a staple of this year’s show. But perhaps more important were the many announcements by companies, veteran and start-up, about their technologies to improve the connections between IoT devices and servers, and between the devices themselves. At the center of this effort (and at the center of CES) is the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). OCF is the world’s largest and most significant effort to unify IoT, seeking to allow devices to communicate with each other, no matter the manufacturer, operating system, chipset or physical transport. We were very proud to join OCF at CES, where they used our SURE Universal Remote to for all of their device demonstrations. In the near future, the work being done by OCF will prove to be critical in accelerating the development of IoT and unlocking the potential of the market, for businesses and consumers alike. Even if they made making less of a splash than the consumer-oriented products, these developments could arguably be the most important takeaways from CES. Communications technology developed for IoT – the low-powered systems suitable for embedded sensors with long-life batteries that will make the world smarter – are essential components of smart cars, smart voice-controlled tech, and smart everything else. The closer technology can bring those diverse devices, the better for manufacturers (who will have more flexibility in designing products) and for device safety (with systems developed to protect smart devices from hacking, regardless of which protocol is used to attack it). CES isn’t only about the sexy and the shiny. The innovations developed for inside the fancy packages may very well end up being the real long-term takeaway of CES 2017.