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CES is a beast. A monster that cannot be tamed.
One of the biggest trade shows on the planet, Consumer Electronics Show hits Las Vegas this week. And I mean hits like Holyfield, with 182,000 attendees, 2.5 million square feet of exhibition space, and 24 categories from drones to sleeptech to smart cities to driverless cars.
Of course, last year my driverless car demo didn’t … drive. Perhaps it will this year.
Here are the 13 things that I — and some of the technology leaders I asked — are expecting at this year’s CES.
- Smart luggage that follows me
Yet another first-world-problem-solving startup has pitched me on luggage that follows me. I’m guessing it works find until another bald white dude walks past, in which case my underwear and electronics will end up in someone else’s hotel room.
- Underwater drones
2017 was the year of the drone at CES, but there will still be plenty in Las Vegas in 2019 too. But now the drones are getting more diverse and sophisticated. One that I’ll be demoing is an underwater drone. I hope it can find its way home by itself if I lose track of it.
- Smart home bonanza
At CES you invariably find some Chinese company that you’ve never heard of but sells billions of dollars worth of electronic gadgets for every conceivable and many inconceivable needs. Smart home is an increasingly hot category and CES 2019 will definitely up the ante here.
- Robots for everything
I’ll be playing ping pong with a robot this year, like last, but this year it will beat me (maybe). And with 27% more robotics exhibitors this year versus 2018, there will be more to see. Spoiler alert: they will be cool, they will be expensive, and they will not quite fulfill the promises their makers make. However, they do portend a future in which our beer fetches itself, Roombas actually work, dishes wash, toilets clean, and electronic pre-glass-slipper Cinderella’s do all the grunt work we care not to. That includes making bread. I’ll be checking out BreadBot, which can make 10 loaves per hour for your restaurant or store.
- AI for everything
Why have a razor when you can have a smart razor? A trash can when you can have a smart trash can? Everything that brands can possibly put AI in, they will. After all, you can buy a toilet with Alexa built in now.
- Voice for everything
As the toilet mentioned above evidences, everything must now come with Alexa or Google Assistant included. That’s excellent in many ways, but not for all: my wife refuses to have an Amazon Echo in our living room.
- 5G, 5G, and more 5G
5G is a faster way for our phones to talk to the internet, and it will change everything, some pundits declare. I’m not certain, since I still am old-fashioned enough to watch my YouTube at 1X speed, instead of the up to double speed Google enables. However, when we move into the augmented reality universe mediated by smart glasses, the extra speed will certainly help load the ads clogging our visual field faster.
- 8K TVs and video cameras
Most of us haven’t upgraded to 4K yet, but if we’re going to get those walls-as-screens from the high-tech but evil Capital in The Hunger Games, we’re gonna need 8K or better. JS Gilbert, who works for Apple’s VoiceOver product, suggests that we’ll get “relatively low cost 8k video cameras, editors, projectors.”
- Cars, smart cars, self-driving cars, and more cars
The Detroit Auto Show has moved to Vegas, it sometimes seems, and while as I mentioned above my first self-driving car demo didn’t go so well, I expect to get driven around parts of Vegas by entities other than Uber or Lyft drivers. At least in specially-marked parking lots. We’ll likely also get to see cars starting to talk to each other, says entrepreneur Andy Karuza: “I think automotive IoT is coming along … I see Android Auto, Apple Carplay, fleet systems, and more consolidation in the space where one or few companies provide the whole connected vehicle hardware and service solution in one place. I’m predicting the Dropcam and Nest of the home to be in the automotive space, too.”
- Better 3D printing
It turns out that at current stages of development, 3D printers won’t be in every house. But the tech is getting better, says designer and developer Murray McDonald. CES 2019 should have quite a few new 3D printers.
- Better batteries (and no batteries needed)
Battery tech is critical not just for the devices in our pockets but the devices that take us to and from home and work and play. We’ll see better battery tech, but I’m also getting pitched on environmental energy harvesting technology that can power battery-less Internet of Things infrastructure … a game-changer for off-grid smart city tech.
- Better privacy and PrivacyTech
If Google knows when your home is cold because you’re turning up the Nest, and Spotify knows when you’re sad because you’re playing old love songs again, privacy is a big deal. Futurist and 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 winner Will Mason says “this will be a big year for consumer data and privacy protection, with all the data breaches in 2018 — CES tends to look to solve technologically issues that permeated the headlines the year before.”
- AR (and some VR)
Augmented reality is increasingly looking like the default operating system of the future for humans, mainly delivered via smart glasses. They’re perhaps five years away from anyone other than early adopters, but I’ve tried some interesting systems from Vuzix and Epson, and we’ll see more innovation here.
A lot of people can’t stand CES due to the crush and busy-ness and vast scope, so as TechCrunch writer John Biggs told me, the other big thing you’ll see at CES is people leaving early.
However, I will not be one of them.
CES may be big. It may be tiring. It may be noisy. And it may be crazy. But it’s also a ton of fun for anyone who likes gadgets, electronics, or the future.
January 6, 2019 at 04:38AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs