If you want to know what the 2020s are going to be like, there’s no better place to look than this year’s annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show). Every year, tech enthusiasts from around the world visit the Las Vegas event to experience all sorts of new technology and devices – everything from the brilliant to the downright bizarre. And 2020 does not disappoint in either regard.
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For regular travelers out there, let’s start with the Segway S-Pod. This egg-shaped scooter allows users to sit and is intended for use in confined spaces, such as airports according to Segway. Most readers will agree that absolutely nothing is more calming in a crowded airport than having large, egg-shaped metal scooters whizzing by you at up to 24 MPH.
Are you indecisive about what to eat? Well, now you can have your DNA decide for you. DnaNudge uses an analysis of your DNA (based on a mouth swab) to identify what kind of food you should eat.
As a cat owner and careful observer, I have noted several traits our three cats seem to share: They absolutely never listen to me, they have incredibly sharp claws, and they appear not to be made out of metal or plastic. MarsCat by Elephant Robotics is very different: This furless robotic cat is more than just hypoallergenic – it uses facial recognition, can be programmed by the user, understands and actually obeys your commands, and presumably can be turned off. While it could never replace any of our cats, I do think they could learn a thing or two from MarsCat.
Do you miss looking at your phone when you’re looking at your TV? If so, you might enjoy Sony’s new Sero TV. This 43-inch 4K TV can be rotated from landscape into portrait mode (from a horizontal position to a vertical position) to allow viewers to watch content from mobile-focused platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. The most surprising part of this reveal to me was not the fact that it could be rotated, but that it wasn’t one of the many 8K TV models on display.
While it’s debatable how well our eyes can even see the difference between 4K and 8K, what isn’t debatable is that early adopters of 8K TVs will usually be paying a much higher price for that distinction.
While these types of devices are certainly entertaining and interesting, what is more important is whether they indicate future trends. It is unlikely rotating TVs will become a trend, and until robots start jumping onto my keyboard from the floor without warning, I refuse to call them cats.
But if you look below the surface, certain common trends do begin to appear. The desire to rotate a TV for mobile-optimized content is an indicator of increased focus on streaming and high-speed connectivity between devices, while much of MarsCat’s appeal comes from its ability to learn and adapt to you specifically. High-speed connectivity, especially 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI) have several things in common:
- They are both on track to permeate almost every kind of software and hardware alike.
- AI can save companies considerable amounts of money through improved productivity and adaptability, while simultaneously improving the product experience for the end-user.
- 5G will drastically improve connectivity, allowing more types of devices to be connected and more data to be transferred than ever before.
- That data, in turn, will boost the effectiveness of AI and broaden its application.
A quick glance at the CES itinerary shows dozens of sessions on AI and many others on 5G. Advancements using AI and 5G are very likely the two most important trends moving into the new “roaring ‘20s”.
An early side effect of this trend is a growing concern about data privacy. Although user data is often purely used to improve software performance or to help target digital ads, there is a very real and growing risk of private data being misused internationally (especially by China).
CES 2020 is the first CES event to feature a panel on the topic of data privacy – an especially timely topic given California’s new SB-327 law on user privacy protection in smart devices. This panel includes Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Erin Egan, and Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy, Jane Horvath.
Paul Powers is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Physna, Inc.