The 2019 edition of CES took place against a background of strained economic relations between East and West. With world trade disturbed by punitive tariffs and tension between the United States and China, as well as a tech industry in transition (AI, IoT and VR/AR have become mature), the 2019 edition was not exactly spectacular. SQLI Lab takes a look at the trends that stood out.
CES 2019: a brief summary
This grand gathering of new technologies began with keynote speeches by LG and AMD, which did not deliver the announcements experts had been waiting for. That said, while few revolutionary new products were announced, many promises from CES 2018 were confirmed. These included LG’s roll-up TV, underwater drones, VAYYAR’s non-camera 3D imaging sensor, and HTC’s Vive Cosmo headset.
Key figures from CES 2019:
- 52nd edition;
- 4400 exhibitors;
- 182,000 visitors;
- 1000 speakers;
- More than 500 French exhibitors (the largest representation);
French exhibitors were located at EUREKA Park, along with French Tech, Business France, regional administrations and several companies from the banking and energy industries. The French representation was difficult to understand, with a lack of clarity (regional administrations that only spoke to the French) and an offering that was not always suited to the international market (products specific to France, presentations in French, exhibitors who could not speak English…). The biggest surprise was that France was not included in the 16 countries recognised as innovative by the Consumer Technology Association. Hard to take for the French!
The hot topics of CES 2019
The defining change, which is invisible yet omnipresent, is Artificial Intelligence. While last year the slogan ‘AI Inside’ was the rule, this year it is clear that AI is an integral part of products and their surrounding ecosystems. However, this means you can find it pretty much everywhere: from washing machines to fridges and ovens, all products are getting in on it, even the most improbable, such as a smart toilet (Kohler) that communicates with Alexa! A flush too far? We will let you be the judge.
Regarding the battle between Google, Amazon and Apple for the text and voice assistant market, CES came down on the side of Hey Google and Alexa. They are integrated into most products, while the Apple Home Kit has practically disappeared.
5G is arriving with great ambitions and promises. Verizon made the most of its keynote to recall its first 5G deployment at a private customer at the end of 2018. The result is far greater connectivity, with more speed (10GB/s), more data (10Tb/s/km2), more flexibility, improved security (99.99%), less latency (5 ms), and less energy consumption.
The challenge now is to identify, analyse and take on board the impacts this technology will have on tomorrow’s products and services. The practical examples we saw at the show were based on live video streams to show its efficiency in terms of latency.
Another major trend at CES 2019 was virtual or augmented reality, with a multitude of headsets and glasses which will become available for purchasing during the year. We counted no less than thirty of them, each with its own set of accessories to enrich uses of the technology.
We got a chance to test for real (if that’s the right word) a VR solution produced by one of the market leaders: The Void. In a room equipped with headsets and sensor-covered jackets, we set off on an adventure in the Star Wars universe. We had to complete a search mission for the Resistance. OK, it was just a game, but we were really transported into another dimension with sensations of movement, heat, wind and height… We opened doors and made our way across a walkway in the air, while being shot at. It was so real! It offers great potential in other areas, such as training, education and maintenance.
The CES show in Las Vegas is also an automotive show. While not on the official programme, in the space of a few years, it has become an essential player in creating the mobility of the future. One vehicle stood out: The Bell Nexus. With this hybrid-electric VTOL (vertical-takeoff-and-landing) vehicle, the aim is to rethink urban transport to make it more effective and efficient. The release is planned for 2025.
With the mobility of the future and autonomous transport, it is no longer about imagining a driving experience but an in-cabin experience. CES responded with a range of concept cars from manufacturers such as Nissan, Mercedes, Byton, Bosch, Panasonic, NSX and Faurecia. They look more like buses (with no front or back), and the interior looks like a smart, connected meeting room with screens everywhere (on the windows, doors, table, etc.). The idea is to use transport time more effectively for work, family or services (health, hospitality, etc.).
Regarding autonomous transport, we saw new growth in the area of sensors (lidars, cameras, radars, etc.) and operating systems (including BlackBerry QNX, number one in the automotive sector). Offering ever-increasing power, they improve detection of the surrounding environment. Lidars stood out with the sheer number of products presented at CES, from less discrete roof-mounted sensors to those integrated into rear-view mirrors and headlights. We should see them appear among built-in vehicle accident prevention tools.
In terms of cars themselves, we noticed a growth in the area of infotainment. Manufacturers and suppliers have released new, ultra-modern dashboards (ever greater in size, such as the M-Byte by Byton), meeting the latest UX standards and integrating evermore AI (autopilot, voice control, smart GPS), VR/AR (Holoride Audi) and sensors (lidar to improve vision, eye-tracking by Nuance).
CES 2019 confirmed a number of promises from 2018 and the rise of AI, by providing access to these technologies to the general public, through household appliances in particular. The technological challenge to come looks set to be the deployment of 5G and the discovery of new uses. Regarding the mobility of tomorrow, autonomous transport should pick up speed thanks to progress made in AI and sensors.
Join us from the 29th of January to the 28th of February at the SQLI Group’s offices (find the office closest to you) for the full debriefing of CES 2019!