Redefining Reality At CES 2018

5G & AI will play roles in every avenue in tech
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As is tradition, CTA presented a slideshow of the top expected trends for this year's CES. 

As is tradition, CTA presented a slideshow of the top expected trends for this year's CES. 

Happy CES 2018!

The massive consumer technology show in Las Vegas will once again serve as a showcase for today’s top consumer tech, but it will also jumpstart a larger conversation about reality and how consumers participate within it, according to the show’s producers, the Consumer Technology Association.

Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh, CTA’s senior director of research and senior manager of research, respectively, kicked off the show’s first Media Day on Sunday with a rundown of the biggest trends attendees can expect to see.

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The pair also provided insight into the current market for some of the hottest consumer technology categories, as well as made predictions for the next several years. Among the top trends at this year’s CES include:

5G/AI/Robotics

Both of these technologies are heralds for the coming data age, said Koenig. 5G speeds will be necessary in order to make virtual reality truly wireless, while the zero-latency it brings is a key ingredient for self-driving vehicles. Showgoers can expect to hear news about deployment of 5G networks from carriers and service providers, as well as enhanced mobile broadband.

Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, will also help autonomous vehicles get on the road faster as analytics learn to predict drivers’ behavior. Smart speakers with digital assistants abound — expect many of those at the show — and compatibility with these digital assistants have become table stakes for manufacturers, noted Koenig.

There will robots for every room of the house at CES, including one that’s even engineered to sleep in a bed: Somnox’s sleep-tracking robot.

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Digital Senses & Realism Redefined

As voice shopping evolves into the fourth shopping channel and biometrics better permeate consumers’ day-to-day digital interactions, the marketplace will enter into a state of what Koenig and Rohrbaugh termed “Realism Redefined.”

‘Coming out of CES 2018,” said Koenig, “the question of ‘what is reality’ is going to be an open-ended answer.” It will all depend on the consumer and how accustomed he or she is to the “digital bits married to the environment. … They’ll expect them because they’re so helpful that they won’t want to be without it.”

Expect to see VR content leading the charge, as storytellers and content creators have now had several years to “define their storytelling and techniques to deliver a sense of presence like we’ve never experienced before,” said Koenig. As such, the market will also see an infusion of more consumer-facing VR hardware, and things like friends hanging out in Facebook VR Spaces will become the norm rather than a gimmick.

Smart Cities/Sports Innovation/Digital Therapeutics

This year’s CES will feature a number of new areas, and chief among them is the Smart Cities Marketplace at the Westgate, which will demonstrate the future and the potential of smart cities in the U.S. and around the world.

Attendees can also experience the role data tracking is playing in sports, and how it can serve as a catalyst for change in human health.  

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