Key Trends Emerging at This Year’s Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas today, promising a preview of the impactful trends and disruptive innovations that will redefine the industry in 2017.  For the past 50 years, CES has been the launch pad for new technology, and this year does not disappoint.  With more than 3,800 exhibitors, 300 conference sessions, and more than 165,000 attendees, there is much to digest.  Below, we highlight four key trends emerging at this year’s show.

Voice Computing.  Wearables may have started the move away from traditional graphical user interfaces, but voice-recognition technology is expected to drive the future of faceless computing.  According to Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research, Consumer Technology Association, the word-error rate for voice-recognition technology has improved considerably in the past few years and has reached human parity.  About 5 million voice-activated digital assistants have been sold to date, and CTA estimates that this number will double in 2017.  Voice-recognition features also are being used for a number of other applications, including by financial services companies for security verification, in the smart home market, in home robots, and in other computing applications. 

Artificial Intelligence.  This year’s conference features the growing use of “artificial intelligence” in consumer devices, such as a refrigerator that can self-adjust its temperature.  The broader theme perhaps is the increasing automation of small things—a trend driven by the fact that sensors have become more and more affordable in the past few years, moving from a “scarcity” to a “surplus.”  New innovations include vacuum bots that use machine learning to clean carpets more thoroughly, smart home systems that “know” when you are home and make adjustments accordingly, and an array of voice assistants.

Internet of Things.  Almost every product at CES boasts some form of connectivity.  As expected, smart home technology is everywhere at this year’s CES.  Beyond that, the IoT is represented in new wearables, health-related products, unmanned aircraft systems, appliances, and vehicles.  Many IoT platforms appear focused on the compatibility with voice assistant technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.

Autonomous Driving.   A variety of new technologies and concept cars are making their debut at CES.  Nvidia and Audi announced that they will offer a “Level 4” autonomous car—meaning no human supervision required—in three years.  Faraday Future debuted its first electric vehicle, which offers the first retractable 3-D lidar to support autonomous driving.  A wide range of manufacturers, including BMW, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, and others also are discussing their advancements in self-driving technology.  

Unmanned Aircraft Systems.  UAS show no sign of slowing down at this year’s CES.  In fact, CTA anticipates a 40 percent increase in sales this year.  DJI continues to be a leader in this space, although a number of other companies are leaving their mark. announced a partnership with Qualcomm to develop home-security drones that can automatically investigate unexpected noises and activity.  Image processing company Ambarella announced a new chip that will support 8K Ultra HD video in UAS.  The Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Office also was present, offering information and guides on the lawful use of UAS.

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