In the run-up to CES 2018, which will open Tuesday, the Consumer Technology Association’s research brain trust, Steve Koenig, senior director of research, and Lesley Rohrbaugh, senior manager of research, offered insights into some of the main technologies they said would color the show and future years’ product iterations. Prominent among them was 5G.
5G’s higher speed, greater capacity and lower latency were factors making the tech a requirement for the development of self-driving cars, said Koenig, projecting enhanced mobile broadband’s arrival for toward the end of this year or the beginning of next. He pointed out the progress of broadband’s performance evolution, citing the download of a two-hour movie having sped up from 26 hours (at 3G speed), to six minutes (4G) to 3.6 seconds (5G). 5G’s advent will have enabling effects, CTA projects, on the telecom, industrial automotive, health care and AV/VR categories.
AI, meanwhile, said Rohrbaugh, has taken hold through the medium of the smart speaker; U.S. smart speaker shipments were up a staggering 279 percent this year, and are expected to experience a 60 percent growth in 2018 in the U.S. But the technology is evolving well beyond the digital assistant level. “Consumers expect expansion,’ said Koenig – and they will get it. What’s the next step? “Conversation with context,” he said, and the move from conversations to relationships; this touches on robotics’ evolution as well, he added.
Other trending techs worth watching closely touch on VR and AR, ecosystems for which are expanding and devices for which are becoming lighter, smaller and the beneficiaries of more refined content development. Biometrics will also play an increasingly important role in consumers’ lives, and research shows they are increasingly comfortable with using the technology - at present, mostly for tasks such as unlocking smartphones.
They also touch on the development of smart cities, helping communities optimize public safety, minimize pollution and adverse traffic conditions, and will go a long way in improving the interaction between society and technology.
There are plenty of moving parts to the evolution of technologies in 2018, and the growth of popularity in the U.S. of tech-connected devices, according to CTA figures, indicates that consumers are open to even more innovation in the foreseeable future. In 2016, 621 million such devices were sold, and in 2017, that went up to 671 million (an increase of 8.1 percent); in 2018, that number is expected again to rise to 715 million units.