Last week, along with around 180,000 fellow tech nerds, enthusiasts and exhibitors, I found myself in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. As a CES newbie, the 4,500 different exhibiting companies and speakers was nothing short of overwhelming. Sure, I expected to see a couple of robots. Maybe, a crazy TV or two, but the sheer volume of connected items and creativity of tech impressed me. Below I’ve distilled some of the trends I found most interesting:
Google is everywhere
Google did not occupy a traditional booth on the convention floor—The Google Assistant house was erected outside the front doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Google employees, dressed in matching ivory jumpsuits and bright beanies, led visitors to various booths of Google-enabled devices. The vast sea of booths was a fascinating symbol of just how many different places and products Google is involved with. There was a lot of chatter about ‘who won the show,’ Google or Amazon? If ‘winning’ equals ubiquity, then, in my mind, there was no question—it was Google.
Privacy is a growing technology market
Within the last decade, technology has had a seemingly loose relationship with privacy. It has been the rock that nobody seemed eager to flip over. However, new technology appears to signify a change on the horizon. Vayyar, a home security company, showcased a motion alert system that enables customers to secure their homes without opening themselves up to the likelihood of being hacked. D-ID, an Israel-based security system, claims that they can help protect your identity from facial recognition. These products are being designed to solve a mounting concern for privacy.
Environment awareness is table stakes
Environmental concerns are no longer “a nice to have”—they are a requirement. While Impossible Foods stole the floor with their new pork buns, and Hydraloop won every award possible, it was companies not known for their sustainability efforts that also made a splash. Exhibitors from Duolab, a new beauty tech product from L’Occitane, demonstrated how customers are incentivized to collect and recycle single-use pods. It’s reassuring to see companies recognize this growing concern among consumers, and innovate to try to find a solution.
Kidtech is more than robots and unbreakable tablet cases
While I wandered CES exploring different products and offerings, I found myself asking, ‘why?’ a lot: Why do we need Alexa in a Lamborghini? Why so many emotional support robots? However, the one area that I felt addressed this question head-on was kidstech. There was a lot of thought given to the art of play—why it’s so vital to child development, and how technology can support this. Bandai-Namco and ISKN created tori, an app that unites the physical and digital in a tablet-enabled world. It prompts kids to build vehicles and elements to advance to the next level and complete the game.
Quality eclipses convenience
Ever since Steve Jobs used the slogan ‘1,000 songs in your pocket,’ the focus has been on finding the media you want at your fingertips—even at the expense of quality. From the huge to the minute, tech providers seemed to be working hard to reverse the quantity over quality trend. Amazon announced the launch of their HD music service in the C-Storytellers lounge, with Alicia Keyes offering her stamp of approval; KNOW Headphones showcased Calm, minimalist headphones that deliver podcasts with unbelievable clarity.
All-in-all, this year’s CES was an eye-opening experience. The ingenuity of engineers has given us a lot of new building blocks to build from. I can’t wait to do something meaningful with them.