Predictions for this year’s upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
After the New Year’s Eve party dust settles, it’s time to start packing for CES — the largest consumer electronics show on the planet that boasts 32 football fields worth of the latest and greatest in tech. And this year’s show, from January 9 to 12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is no exception. It will be larger in size and scope than ever, with more than 20,000 products on display.
While last year was all about the connected car, this year we will see a focus on AI, smart cities and the increasing interconnectedness of things. But don’t worry…there will still be cars, including Tesla-competitor Fisker that will debut the EMotion all-electric luxury sedan, which is said to charge in a mere nine minutes.
AI continues its rise
AI will be a pervasive theme on both the CES 2018 expo floor and in multiple breakout sessions, thanks to its emergence in applications, devices and networks.
A total of nine conference tracks will focus on AI, including the likes of ‘AI and Analytics: Creating Compelling IoT Services’ and ‘Turning AI into Dollars.’ The conference will also feature a brand-new Artificial Intelligence Marketplace for demos and hands-on experience.
Also of note is China’s massive presence at this year’s show. With 1,000 of the 4,000 exhibitors from China, the country’s presence will be exceptional, particularly in AI.
Having already invested a whopping US $46 billion into AI, Chinese companies will debut new products at the show such as BIKI, a robotic fish designed for underwater exploration and ‘smart fishing’ (for both recreational and commercial purposes).
Emerging smart cities
Also new to CES 2018 is the Smart Cities Marketplace, where AI will also play a major role.
“Our own prediction is there will be at least 88 smart cities worldwide by 2025,” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), during an address at the annual CES New York preview event in November.
The Smart Cities Marketplace will feature technologies such as AI systems, sensors, data analytics and network infrastructures, and will address areas such as smart transportation, energy, public safety and healthcare, to name a few. Multi-day programming will also highlight 5G technologies for smart cities — another key trend at this year’s show.
Hot topics: 5G, sports tech, retail and blockchain
5G isn’t expected to roll out until 2020, but competing prototypes will be demonstrated as 5G moves from the lab to the market. According to VentureBeat, “5G will likely be woven into the visions of various keynote speakers, as it will significantly speed up the adoption of the Internet of Things.” This foundational technology is expected to be 10 times faster than 4G LTE, which will enable “a whole wave of innovative products that will use it,” including VR gaming and self-driving cars.
New this year is the interactive CES Sports Zone, which will highlight sports technology innovations. Expect to see immersive technologies such as AR and VR, as well as sessions that address data-driven athletic performance, smart arenas and eSports. Plus, it’s a chance to see sports legends like Charles Barkley, Joe Montana and Michael Phelps.
The High Tech Retailing Summit will also make its debut, designed to help retailers “leverage technology to create a seamless, powerful consumer experience,” according to CTA. The summit will focus on topics such as experiential shopping, big data and the lifecycle of ‘smart’ merchandise.
And the Digital Money Forum is returning to CES for its third year, addressing the role of AI in money management. Blockchain is expected to be a hot topic at this year’s show — Accenture predicts it will be one of the top tech stories and a focal point in both presentations and demonstrations of emerging technologies.
Also back is Eureka Park — CES’s dedicated area to start-ups — which will feature 800 companies from 30 countries (an increase of one-third from 2017).
Of course, CES is also known for its weird, wild and wacky new products — and a glimpse into the future. This year, look out for the futuristic SureFly octocopter by Workhorse, a drone that seats two people, which is set to make its manned maiden voyage on January 8 (it will be on display during the show).
But perhaps the biggest trend we’ll see at CES 2018 is the convergence of trends. The show will focus on the home, the car and the public realm, according to Digital Production Partnership. “The common theme will be the attempt to apply machine learning, automation and responsive interactions to all of these. It will be as if the whole world is one big user interface.”