CES celebrates some of the best new, up-and-coming and futuristic tech in the consumer electronics industry. While we could spend days – or weeks, or months – discussing all the actual innovations from the show, we want to hone in on some of the core trends we observed. For us, these trends are part of a bigger story than just what consumers see – and we expect the actual tech behind the tech to be the best story.
Tech Trends at CES 2018
Artificial Intelligence – AI has received a lot of press in the past year and the discussions at CES were no different. While most of the conversations on AI have been about personal assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, there are more opportunities in other industries outside the home. For example, AI has tremendous capabilities in the autonomous driving space. In particular, AI makes sensory perception (detecting objects in a vehicle’s path) and data processing possible and useful.
Robotics – Robotics had a starring role at this year’s show. Many articles coming out of the show have rounded up lists of robots who interact with their human owners by taking pictures, answering questions, playing music or monitoring the home. Essentially, the robots in the spotlight are humanoid chassis with Alexa-like AI behind them, clearly demonstrating how AI and robotics are interrelated and are seemingly expected to grow in tandem.
Smart Cities – Smart cities are an interesting example of how society and technology intersect. From self-driving pizza delivery cars (no, we’re not talking about an episode of Black Mirror – it’s real!) to energy and environment usage, smart cities are fascinating because of all the layers of tech that make them possible. Both AI and robotics will be a big part of moving smart cities forward, but it will all depend on the right buy-in from the market, organizations, and city and regional leaders.
The Tech Behind the Tech
Although we saw these tech trends at a consumer show, there are far more applications for industrial industries and other B2B settings. Let’s look at the same trends in a different way:
Artificial Intelligence – Artificial intelligence is important for efficient data processing and is closely tied to edge computing. AI and edge are critical for keeping the industrial internet of things (IIoT) up and running. Many industrial control systems that are responsible for managing IIoT “things” like pumps, motors, values, conveyors, etc. These pieces of technology are often decades old and aren’t designed for open networking. Complementing old systems with edge computing and AI technologies will allow old infrastructure to keep up while keeping costs down.
Robotics – Robotics is an explosive industry, but it’s dependent on many others. While the connection to AI is apparent, especially from CES this year, robotics is majorly dependent on the chips that run them. As the robotics industry grows, we can anticipate it to generate significant demands for semiconductor chips. From sensing devices that collect information to data processing and motor control devices that process the collected information to networking devices that allow a robot’s internal network to connect to all its other components, semiconductor devices are what make robots work. The more robotics grows, the more semiconductor manufacturers are going to be center stage –even if they are embedded in the background.
Smart Cities – While the concept of smart cities frequently focuses on the surface-level tech that people will interact with (self-driving cars, connected homes, energy improvements), it’s really the tech behind the tech that is the real star here. The technology required to make smart cities “smart” is dependent on artificial intelligence, data processing, edge computing and robotics – and the chips and sensors that make them function. As cities become more connected, there are going to be more opportunities for companies that manufacture the “guts” to stand-out and develop partnerships with all parts of the connected devices chain.
What’s Next for Tech
As consumer electronics continue to grow, we anticipate the need for the tech behind the tech to grow as well. While consumer tech more often claims the headlines, it’s time for semiconductor manufacturers, edge computing and infrastructure solutions providers and AI programming companies to get more visible.
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