CES 2018 - A reality check on leading tech trends
At this year's CES we had the opportunity to see some of the key trends we've identified manifested as real products. So, how are our trends doing?
The usage of Zero UI has significantly increased at this year's CES. Not only were there multiple examples of devices being controlled by voice, but also more examples of devices that can be controlled using hand gestures. Two of the best examples were the Sony Smart speaker and BYTON concept car. The Sony Smart speaker allows the user to wave their hand above the speaker to control volume and play/pause. The BYTON car, arguably the most talked about car at the show, boasts a non-touchscreen display that takes up the entire dashboard, which the user controls using hand gestures.
Not only did we see a large variety of headsets on show, we also saw how the technology has progressed in the last year. The future is really focused on higher resolution displays and more freedom by going wireless. Arguably the biggest announcement came from the gamers' headset of choice, HTC, with Vive Pro; a high resolution headset with stereoscopic cameras at the front. Additionally, they also unveiled an attachment that would allow the Vive Pro to perform wirelessly, meaning no more clunky cables hooked up to your computer for you to trip over!
ROBOTS AND SELF-DRIVING CARS
Due to the advancement in AI and machine learning, more robots can now perform more complex tasks, allowing them to start becoming viable options in our everyday lives. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the automotive market, where self-driving cars really took over the show. The on-demand taxi company Lyft even partnered with automotive tech parts business, Aptiv, to allow customers to get free rides from the convention centre in a self-driving car.
There were also multiple examples of humanoid robots. One of the most interesting robots we saw was Laundroid - a cupboard that automatically folds your clothes. Although it is still a prototype, we can expect these kind of devices to slowly make their way into the mainstream.
When looking at retail specific examples, we learned that the most significant change will come from the continued integration of technology into the retail experience. Suning Commerce showed off their concept of an Amazon Go-style store experience that utilised RFID and facial recognition. When you walk in the store it recognises you; you then just walk around and pick up the items you want to buy, each of which have an RFID tag on them. By simply walking out of the store, the RFID tag can bulk scan each item and allow you to automatically pay for them without going to a till. We also saw multiple smart mirrors, as brands begin to digitise all manor of products.
AI AND DIGITAL ASSISTANTS
Finally, the biggest trend of the show was the amazing increase in devices that use AI or are integrated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. LG and Sony are both using AI to generate better images on their TVs, whilst almost every other brand had integrated a digital assistant. From fridges to ovens and TVs, everyone was touting a wifi-integrated device that could be controlled with Alexa or the Google Assistant. Google even paid a huge amount of money to make sure that everyone knew how the Assistant worked, with marketing and staff stationed at partner booths to provide assistance.
Overall, this year's CES was dominated by digital assistants - a trend we think will continue for the foreseeable future are more devices start to ship with digital assistant integration as standard.