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Top 5 Tech Product Trends of CES 2018

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Another week of fun after spending 7 days in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show – the mecca of current tech from all around the world.  With nearly 4,000 exhibitors throughout the convention center and spread out across the strip, trying to see everything was impossible.

Perhaps you heard about one of the convention halls going dark, after consistent rainfall the day before?  The hall collected on its roof, causing a transformer breakage.  Lights were out for two hours but the rest of the halls and CES locations were as vibrant as ever.

When we identify the top product trends stemming from CES this year, we focus on those which are most relevant to families. 

There were certainly megatrends such as 5G, Smart Cities, and retail sell applications, but these won’t be affecting most families at this time until they are further developed and released on a widespread basis.

The product trends we identified for 2018 include:

  1.  Voice Assistants
  2.  Health-Fitness
  3.  Cars
  4.  AI – Artificial Intelligence
  5. AR/VR

 

1.  Anyone Need An Assistant?

 

Voice assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby got a bigger voice (pardon the pun) this year at CES.  We couldn’t believe the utter spread of voice assistance in products from speakers to cars, to appliances, to TV systems (like Dish), to faucets, to door locks…event toilets!

Alexa was the main star of the show, integrated into more products than you could shake a stick at.  But as a fan who uses Google Assistant, I was excited to see a lot of integration with Google Assistant as well.  In fact, Google Assistant made a big splash at CES this year with a showroom home they constructed in the parking lot to showcase the many products they are integrated with.

In addition, Google placed real-life Google Assistants in the booths of those manufacturers displaying technology with Google Assistant.  These Google Assistant in their easily identifiable white jumpsuits were on hand to answer any questions about what a product could or couldn’t do with Google Assistant.  In fact, in a number of cases, I found the real-life Google Assistant was more familiar with the Google Assistant properties than the manufacturer themselves!

Here’s a small sampling of products incorporating Alexa or Google Assistant:

  • Gourmia appliances
  • Schlage
  • Adobe Systems – for home automation control
  • D-Link routers and cameras
  • Canary cameras
  • Tivo DVRs
  • Dish set-top boxes
  • JBL, Jensen, and Lenovo smart display, alarm, or speaker systems
  • Kohler faucets, mirrors, and toilets using its Konnect technology
  • Sony Android TV’s
  • Vuzix Blade AR glasses
  • Jabra Elite Active wireless earbuds
  • ASUS and Acer laptops
  • GE Smart lights and switches
  • Car entertainment systems
  • Robots

And a bunch more!  Samsung’s Bixby was prominent in Samsung’s booth to help their consumers control their ovens, TV’s, and Hub refrigerators.  Although their products don’t directly communicate with Google Assistant or Alexa, they can be used through the Samsung SmartThings home automation hub which can control Samsung appliances/ TV’s, lighting, music, and more through Z-Wave technology.

LG took voice assistants a step further and created a small friendly robot, CLoi to help consumers in the kitchen using CLoi enabled appliances.  She’ll help you with recipes and talk with the appliances ahead of time to ensure your oven is preheating.

Voice assistants aren’t stopping in the home.  A number of products were displayed to help the daily commute or carpool treks easier.  For example, you can ask what’s on your calendar, how long to get someplace, or where the nearest electric vehicle charging station using the Panasonic In-Vehicle entertainment.

Expect to see a lot more in-car technology, especially with the quickly advancing autonomous cars.

 

2.  Health-Fitness

better sleep

Health and fitness took up a larger part of the showroom floor this year.  Although wearables were still prominent, there were plenty of other interesting ways to track health, ease pain, increase fitness, and provide new insights into health, wellness, and fitness.  

We continue to see innovation in pain management, self-help & evaluation, elder care, sleep, and even telemedicine.  With overcrowded emergency rooms and doctor offices, products and services are continuing to rise to meet the need for better healthcare. 

Fitness is a key component of good health.  Let me start with a fitness company called Black Box VR, that completely stopped me in my tracks.  Black Box VR blends video games with strength training in a fun and unique workout.  It designed all around the use of Virtual Reality (VR).  It pairs immersive technology with resistance training, high-intensity cardio, and gaming to help participants make an impact on their health and fitness goals.

Surprisingly enough, this is not something you try at home.  Black Box VR will be incorporating it into gyms, starting with the first one slated to open in San Francisco sometime this year.

There’s never a shortage of sleep products at CES, something parents never seem to get enough of at times.  One different product is the Somnox robot pillow which can expand and contract as if it were breathing.  Holding it close to your chest helps you to relax and achieve a similar breathing rate without even realizing it, which prepares you for sleep.

We spent some time with Philips to better understand their SmartSleep product.  Designed as a headband, it delivers tones during your sleep to enhance the quality of your deep sleep so you are more alert the next morning.  Although it tracks your sleep patterns, it goes a step further by actually enhancing your sleep through sleep stage recognition and tone enhancements.

Sleep Number talked about how they are looking into future opportunities where their mattresses can help detect things like sleep apnea, the flu, and even heart attacks. 

The use of electronic pulses on the body to help reduce symptoms continues to grow.  Oska Pulse uses Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) to ease minor pain and muscle soreness by increasing blood flow to the areas affected.  Simply strap the Oska Pulse to the area you feel pain with its patented wrap.  Oska offers a non-medicated way to provide relief to chronic pain sufferers.

Feeling tense?  Distracted? Have food cravings that don’t stop?  TouchPoints uses a Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) alternating vibrations to calm your body’s response to stressful and anxiety filled situations.  We’ve had a chance to test out TouchPoints and they do help calm you down.  TouchPoints is also great for children who have a hard time staying still, are anxious about school or new situations, or just need focus before a test.

Another similar pulsating technology is used by Reliefband to help people deal with motion sickness, nauseousness, and yes, even queasiness felt by experiencing Virtual Reality.  Their newest product, Reliefband 2.0 builds upon the success of their original Reliefband by making the battery rechargeable, introducing a more comfortable latex-free band, and a higher number of intensity levels to find the right level of comfort and effectiveness.  We tried the original Reliefband several times and it is effective at getting rid of any nauseousness within minutes.

 

3.  Autonomous Cars

 

Autonomous cars, otherwise known as self-driving cars, were an incredible technology area to explore.  What once seemed far-reaching is already happening today and the future of autonomous cars is truly fascinating.

While top car companies focus on connected autonomous cars, companies like 3M are working on connected roads to help guide self-driving cars.  Street signs and pavement markings will be embedded with code to assist autonomous cars with information about upcoming intersections and road conditions.

Are people ready for self-driving cars?  According to a study from CTA in 2016, nearly two-thirds of drivers want to replace their cars with self-driving cars.  To transition those who are nervous about giving up control, car makers will install head-up displays to riders to follow along with to validate the car is making the right “decisions.”

Imagine the future where you don’t even need to own a car anymore, just schedule a car to take you where you need to go offering you the convenience and privacy of your own car without the maintenance and driving hassle of owning and driving your own car.

Autonomous cars offer just that, autonomy.  Freedom from the stress of driving.  Freedom from assessing traffic and choosing the best route.  Freedom from needing to pay attention to the road.  Imagine reading, answering emails, finishing a proposal on the way to work?

Autonomous cars also bring unsurpassed mobility for everyone – adults and children.  Children can securely arrive to school and get to practice.  Seniors and people with disabilities will have options so they no longer need to be dependent on others for transportation.  Travels vacationing in a new city can get from point A to B is now easier, with little planning.

One day, there won’t even be traffic lights, cars will communicate with one another so stopping for a light will not be needed.  Imagine the safety possible for such a solution.  No more stepping on the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of you.  No more falling asleep while driving.  No more hostility and honking at another car for a “dumb” mistake.

Although this may seem like a distant future, many top automakers are planning to build self-driving cars by 2020…that’s next year!

Is it Safe?

Without self-driving cars, in 2015, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 35,000 were killed in traffic accidents.  It’s no surprise that 94% of accidents are caused by human error.  Without human error alone, we should be on a better path.  

Each driving situation is different, there would be no way to possibly program all scenarios into autonomous cars and their environment.  This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning come into play.  Cars will continue to learn as they self-drive.

Toyota had an incredible display of how the future could look with autonomous cars, they called their concept e-palette.  It’s  based on fully automated vehicles designed to accommodate various business needs throughout the city.  Based on consumer needs, vehicles are ordered to for various ride sharing or e-commerce needs.  These autonomous vehicles can deliver packages, bring high-tech labs to scientists for equipment they lack, allow for lunchtime shopping of shoes, sporting goods, etc., or even bring lunch to your home or office.  

Watch this futuristic video to get a better understanding.  When asked if these concepts are another 20 years out, their CES booth represented said that some of these concepts will begin working as early as a few years in Japan.  Amazing!

 

 

 4.  AI Everywhere

 

It’s hard to predict everything ahead of time a self-driving car may encounter.  In order for consumers to really feel comfortable with a self-driving car in control, it needs Artificial Intelligence (AI) or deep learning to identify, learn, and correct itself.  It does this by utilizing software that learns from experience.

In addition, cars will be communicating with the road, signs, and each other.  Self-driving cars have a lot of data it can process instantaneously that humans could never do.  AI gives cars and other objects reasoning.

According to Rachel Bellamy, IBM Research Manager for human-agent collaboration,

“We will get to a point, likely within the next five years, when an AI system can better explain why it’s telling you to do what it’s recommending.”

 

AI helps us do things we either 1.) don’t care to do or 2.) need all the help we can get.  Think of it, AI is being used today.  Some cars (Ford and others) on the road today take over the dreaded task of parallel parking.  Some people enjoy doing this but most dread the task.  With AI, parallel parking has greatly improved and you barely need to lift a finger!

We saw a number of products at CES using AI.  Besides autonomous car manufacturers, here are some others…

Emotix Miko – a fun personable robot toy for children.  Miko can answer almost any question thrown at him.  But in addition to retrieving info from the Internet, Miko can tell when a child is happy or sad.  He understands a child’s likes and dislikes.  He grows as your child grows.  With his cute LED expressive face and endearing personality, Miko is a great friend for children.  With its app, parents can even ask that Miko focuses on certain things like manners, sharing, doing homework, respecting elders, and more.

Cocoon Cam Clarity – Cocoon Cam Clarity to a unique baby monitor – by the looks of it alone you wouldn’t guess what it is.  Cocoon Cam Clarity does one thing other baby monitors don’t.  It captures respiration without any contact.  It’s all done in real time through the camera and graphically portrayed in the app to put their minds at ease that their baby is breathing just fine.

But Cocoon Cam Clarity goes one step further.  It uses the data it collects to infer how your child is doing.  It will notify you when it determines your baby is starting to wake up as well as when there are changes in his/her breathing. An amazing monitor coming out later this year.

PianoGo App – paired with The One Smart Piano makes learning to play the piano more fun and relevant.  PianoGo using AI or machine learning to track how you play, monitors your practice, and provides assessments.  Assessments help you with different aspects based on skill, accuracy, rhythm, coordination, expression, and difficulty, based on users’ performances.

PianoGo gives you a total score based on these six areas and can even playback for you what you just practiced.  It will even play your song back to you.

Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of the next revolution.  Constellation Research predicts the artificial intelligence market will surpass $100 billion by 2025.  Gartner reports that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human. 

Artificial Intelligence is science fiction no more.

 

5.  Virtual Reality 

 

The prevalence of virtual reality on the CES showroom floor was impressive…and funny at the same time, especially in the automotive section.  I saw people giving Mercedes’ self-driving concept car a ride and people grouped up in a facade helicopter taking off for futuristic helicopter taxi travel.

There was even a rollercoaster with people wearing VR goggles experiencing the adventure, complete with a moving platform that would move everyone left, right, upwards or downwards, dependent upon what they were seeing in the VR screens.  It’s fun to watch their reactions.

Virtual Reality offers people a way to immerse themselves in the experience, sometimes even forgetting that they are not really experiencing it directly.  In addition to the news of truly wireless VR and new VR goggles, a number of companies showcased items to enhance and control the experience such as eye-tracking (Tobii), hand-tracking (uSens), connected gloves (Sensoryx), and even using your mind (MindMaze).

Virtual Reality is being used in all sorts of innovative ways.  The Department of Homeland Security is exploring how to use VR to train their emergency response teams through all sorts of disasters – floods, storms, earthquakes, wildfire, droughts, and more.

The Cleveland Clinic is already using virtual reality to teach cardiac surgery scenarios.  Helping interns to see the support staff in the operation room and how they work with the doctor to help the patient.  Virtual reality helps doctors feel and internalize the stresses of the operating room with a virtual environment.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has seen the benefits of VR for pain treatment, which could help decrease the need for opioid meds, thus decreasing the tens of thousands of deaths in the US annually due to addiction.

Anxious to try VR for yourself?  Intel is bringing VR to the XXIII Winter Olympics, enabling the VR experience across 30 sports programs.  VR viewers will experience speed skating, ski jumping, and ice skating like never before during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics

 

 

There you have it, our top 5 product trends stemming from this year’s CES.   Look for our top 5 products for Moms coming up next week.  We literally saw thousands of products but have narrowed it down to 5 products for Moms that will be available later this year.

If you went to CES and want to tell us about any other product tends you noticed, leave us a comment!

 

 

 

 

 



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