CES 2018: 4 big takeaways from the biggest tech show on Earth​

A show like CES is as much about where technology is potentially going, as it is about the latest gadgets or concepts. There was a lot to see in the 2.7 million sq. ft. of floor space, and these four trends stood out.

 

Google Assistant and Alexa

 

It wasn’t all about Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but those two platforms dominated the artificial intelligence (AI) presence at CES. Either way, the focus remains the same.

 

Drive your car and turn on smart lights or a smart thermostat before arriving home. There was even a mirror and showerhead with voice integration. We’re clearly moving from asking for basic functions on a phone to automating a part of our lifestyles through smarter AI.

 

There’s still a long way to go, but companies are increasingly buying in. Samsung wants its Bixby platform to be a competitive digital assistant. LG branded its AI-enabled product lines under the ThinQ banner. Sony has embraced both Google Assistant and Alexa. Automakers, smart home device makers, and app developers are all looking to integrate both platforms.

 

Cars of the future

 

The automotive industry is on the cusp of arguably the biggest shakeup since the Ford Model T a century ago. Technology under the hood always dictated the pace of innovation, but connectivity and compatibility loom larger now.

 

It’s been a burgeoning trend at CES for the last few years, and 5G cellular connectivity could be crucial to how autonomous vehicles better navigate the roads.

 

Even companies with no real history in automotive development want in. Samsung and Panasonic showcased their own visions of connected, autonomous vehicles. Nvidia has been a leader in that category for some time, while rideshare providers, like Uber and Lyft, are also getting involved.

 

Smarter homes

 

Never before have appliances taken up so much space at CES. Vendors, like Samsung and LG, want to go from simply turning on an appliance with an app to having it learn your preferences.

 

Convenience drove the narrative and context on what smart refrigerators can do. Gone to a grocery store and been unsure whether you already had the same item in the fridge? Peek inside using an app, and take recipes based on what’s there to avoid spoiling food.

 

Set clothes to wash or turn on a slow-cooker before arriving home. While some of this is already possible, the difference is in how these devices can do them automatically. Big brands pushed voice integration in the newer models as a much improved input method, though time will tell how effective it is.

 

5G coming soon

 

If you find your current 4G LTE connection already fast, try multiplying it by 50 because that’s what 5G is capable of. You could download an episode of your favourite TV drama in under two seconds.

 

It’s an incredible leap forward, and despite not truly seeing those speeds yet, the next few years will see significant changes in how we stay connected. Carriers in the U.S. are set to conduct trials in select cities this year for testing.

 

In essence, 5G should act like a cloud-based utility, where data flows from phones, homes, businesses, and cars. Autonomous driving may rely heavily on 5G connectivity. Live streaming events will be instant with super clear image quality. Uploading files will be a breeze. Streaming content in 8K wouldn’t be a problem, much less 4K.

 

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