One of the biggest tech resolutions in the world kicks off Sunday in Las Vegas.
The International Consumer Electronics Show — CES to its friends — is a sprawling and overwhelming blur of booths, press events, demos and gadgets. Currently in its 51st year, parts of the show seem like a throwback to a different era when televisions were considered the cutting edge of tech innovation. The marquee names remain companies like Panasonic and Sony because many of today’s leading technology players like Apple, Facebook and Amazon prefer to keep a low profile at the show.
But with more than 3,900 exhibitors, CES is still a place where you can find the latest technology trends. Some stuff we expect to see at CES this year.
1. The voice assistants are everywhere
Voice assistants made a huge influence at CES last year, but next week they will be all but inescapable on the show floor. They’re moving on from smart speakers and will show up in everything from cars to microwaves. Enterprises like Microsoft, Google and Amazon will take a break from promoting their own devices to strike up partnerships with third-parties. Licensing and the promise of signing people up for services like Amazon Prime or YouTube Red is a huge potential revenue stream for these companies. Will your next wash head be an Alexa, Bixby or Google Assistant?
“Coming out of CES, we’re going to clearly have established that voice is going to be the go-to user interface,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research for the Consumer Technology Association. “Wherever we go or whatever we’re doing, we’re going to have some form of digital assistant at our side ready to help us.”
2. Cities are planning for the future
The UN estimates that 60% of the world’s population will live in urban Ares by 2030. For the first time, CES is dedicating an area to smart city technology. It is probable to be one of the more internationally attentive areas, with representatives from cities around the world searching for ways to sustain their growing populations.
While the United States is focused on transportation (specifically self-driving cars, less so public transit) countries in Europe are more concerned with things like energy conservation, says Koenig.
3. Sports tech goes pro
Now enterprises are aggressive in software and hardware for professional sports. They could be used the support performance, help damage recovery or to give real-time updates on an athlete’s performance during a big game. E-Sports will also have a presence in the sports section.
4. Robots those are (almost) useful
They have long been a support on the CES display floor, but they’re frequently more of uniqueness than a real product. This year, thanks to AI, voice interfaces and advanced sensors, robots are inching closer to becoming useful. Companion robots are also on the rise, though perhaps a few years behind. As smart assistants flesh out their personalities and get better at conversing and anticipating needs, they could be a natural fit for robots.
“It’s not really that much of a stretch for them to be in a companion robot,” said Koenig. “At what point do these conversations turn into relationships?”