The annual Consumer Electronics Show 2018 has concluded hosting more than 4,000 companies and 127,000 tech-enthusiasts. This time CES was monopolized by the AI virtual assistants that are ready to become a prominent part of everyday life by syncing with almost every electric device in one’s homes, offices and cars. As expected, TVs dominated with Samsung’s The Wall and LG’s rollable OLED TV as well as the next in visual resolution – mega 8k TVs.
One of the highlights of CES this year was the comeback of Sony’s adorable Aibo. Aibo looks more lifelike and cute. It responds to touch, senses the environment, barks and moves around like an enthusiastic and energetic puppy.
The digital health industry also had a strong presence with innovative health and medical technology targeted to improve sleep, help with allergies, monitor stress, heart rate, breath, and to check blood pressure and UV exposure.
From past trends, we can expect that a lot of the technology showcased at CES will most probably not be available on the market soon. But, it does inform us about what is the immediate potential of the tech industry and which direction we are heading. Nonetheless, there are many useful and impressive products one can get right now.
However, before talking about the top 5 most exciting technologies at CES, let’s first address the elephant in the room: #CESSoMale. 2017 was a year overshadowed by Trump (whom we can’t ignore even if we try) and Harvey Weinstein. The everyone-knew-secret scandals of Hollywood became a turning point in the war for gender equality. Women were speaking out and being heard with #MeToo and men were joining the war with #TimesUp movements. This year, like last year, CES made headlines with an all-white male keynote speaker line-up and only a quarter of the other speakers and panellists were women.
After facing major backlash CES added two women to their keynote speaker list and responded with an open letter stating, “A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that “there remains a persistent lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the technology workforce.” We agree, especially for women in leadership roles. This is a global issue – not just within the technology sector –all industries and our society at large can and must do better. Those of us who produce events must do better too. It is a challenge. But we are up for it.”
Adding to this, the Senior Vice President of CES, Karen Chupka, said “To keynote at CES, the speaker must head (president/CEO level) a large entity who has name recognition in the industry. As upsetting as it is, there is a limited pool when it comes to women in these positions.”
Both statements succinctly state the problem of gender in the tech world. There are very few women in top leadership positions and a conspicuous lack of diversity in this industry. CES is one of the biggest electronics shows in the world and is a launch pad for numerous brands and start-ups. It is a mirror for the tech industry – where is it now and what is the future. It is a platform that can and should be used to promulgate the issue of gender equality in this industry. Of course, that does not mean that CES or corporations should hire/promote for the sake of diversity; they should do so because the candidate is deserving – regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation – a concept we badly need to popularize.
Now, back to the exciting glimpse into the future of technology! Here are my top 5:
After Alexa dominating CES 2017, Google assistant has taken the next step by collaborating with companies such as LG, Sony, JBL and Lenovo. Google assistant will be integrating with other devices, especially headphones and televisions. The voice assistant will be featured in smart displays and will organize schedules, assist with cooking recipes and help control household functions, all hands-free. With the introduction of Android Auto in more than 400 models of automobiles, Google assistant also aims to make one’s driving experience more safe and comfortable.
L’Oreal’s UV Sense
One of the most fascinating and tiny products seen at CES 2018 was by far L’Oreal’s UV Sense – a wearable, battery-free electronic sensor that measures UV exposure. It is reusable and can be stuck to sunglasses, sneakers, backpacks and, because it is L’Oreal, on one’s fingernail as nail art.
The device is connected to an app that collects data of UV exposure. The aim of this fashionable device is to make one aware of dangerous levels of UV exposure and help in preventing skin cancer.
A unique device that’s good for the environment and one’s water bill – Buoy is a device that can be attached to the home’s plumbing line. It has a rechargeable battery and can be easily installed to one’s main water line by a certified plumber. Connected to an app, this device provides data about the household water consumption and water wastage by providing specific information about how much water the household appliances are using. The device can detect leaks, and allows one to shut off the household water remotely, both in real time, via the app in case of emergencies.
VR has been around for a while now but was unable to successfully penetrate mainstream consumer because it was not very user-friendly. This will change now with the next generation of VR headsets: Lenovo’s ‘self-contained’ Mirage Solo and HTC’s Vive Pro with improved video resolution, more comfortable head strap. The Mirage Solo is wireless and one can straight away download games over WiFi or via USB. Similarly, the wireless adaptor of the Vive Pro can connect to any nearby PC. Finally, wireless VR has become a reality!
Integrated clothing and technology seems to be the next big thing. SKIIN has a line of washable smart undergarments that is wirelessly connected to an app one can track. Some of the features of this garment include sleep observation to help one better understand and enhance their sleep patterns. SKIIN can monitor heart rate, body temperature, breathing, hydration, body fat, steps taken and it also strives to improve mental health by identifying when one’s body is stressed or calm.
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