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What CES 2018 Means For The Year Ahead

Andrew | 15/01/2018

With CES 2018 over, we take a look at how the tech industry will change in 2018.

The annual CES show showcased the weird and wonderful of the global tech market earlier this month. Here’s our take on what this year’s announcements mean for the technology landscape in the year ahead.

Even the city’s monorail wasn't spared from Google’s expansive campaign.
[Image: The Verge]

Google and Amazon's Race Is Heating Up

Google went big at CES this year and boasts new Google Assistant-backed devices from 15 tech partners, determined to try and catch up with Amazon’s estimated 70% share of the smart speaker market. Google’s most significant reveal was the launch of a range of smart screens to compete with Amazon’s Echo Show and Spot. Google seems to be taking a cautious approach to smart screens, letting third parties navigate this space ahead of a potential entry itself. With the rumoured launch of a screen device by Facebook later this year, 2018 will see these devices face their first real market tests, and whether or not consumers see enough value in adding a screen to a voice assistant to purchase them.

JBL is one of Google’s new smart screen partners.
[Image credit: The Verge]

Although not exhibiting at the show itself, Amazon still dominated CES with their Alexa assistant being baked into everything from light switches to mirrors to televisions. Among the most interesting announcements, HP, Acer, and Asus will be the first brands bringing Alexa to the desktop, targeting their new lineups at office and mobile white collar workers. The move, however, raises questions over the future of Microsoft’s Cortana assistant. The arrival of Alexa on its ‘home turf’ makes its uphill struggle to achieve market share just that much harder.

Elsewhere in voice, Chinese search giant Baidu beat western competitors to add facial recognition to smart speakers, something expected to come to the likes of Echo and Home within the next couple of years. Vuzix, meanwhile, became the first to add Amazon’s Alexa to an augmented reality headset.

Smarter Homes

Better integration with 2018 television lines from LG, Sony, and HiSense will go some way to filling the TV gap in Alexa’s smart home abilities, and the addition of Alexa to Jabra’s new wireless headphones will give Amazon a presence outside of the home, where it lags behind Google and Apple thanks to their domination of smartphones.

Outside of the audiovisual stands, Kohler unveiled a smart bathroom line including voice enabled mirrors and a smart bathtub, envisaging benefits for a family busy trying to get reluctant kids ready for bed.

Robot Enterprise

Robotics garnered a lot of attention, although not always for the best reasons; LG’s keynote went awry when it’s robotic personal assistant failed to respond and several other robots had to be carried off the exhibition floor. Nonetheless enterprise robots such as LG’s range showed a lot of promise, and people were able to see Savioke’s Relay robots at work in hotels, carrying out room service requests and supporting staff. While ambitious home helpers may evidently take a while to be market-ready, consumer-facing enterprise robots are already making an impact.

Vuzix has become the first augmented reality maker to add a voice assistant to their headset.
[Image credit: The Verge]

The Future of Transport

The automotive industry’s presence at CES continued to grow this year, with Toyota, Lexus, and Kia unveiling voice assistant integrations. Ford’s fight to keep control of the in-car experience out of the hands of the tech industry continued with the unveiling of an open-source connected car platform, but the big headlines came from Byton, a Chinese car startup founded by ex-BMW and Apple employees. The company’s concept SUV is attempting to answer the question of what people do in cars when they no longer need to actually drive them. Byton’s solution? Giant screens. Boasting a 49-inch dashboard screen, complete with swivelling front seats so the whole family can view it, along with an in-wheel control screen, the company is betting that entertainment and productivity industries will be right at the heart of the self-driving revolution, when it comes.

Byton’s vision represents a big opportunity for the media and enterprise productivity industries.
[Image credit: The Verge]

Wrapping Up At CES

The number of wearables companies displaying at CES this year was noticeably down as the market matures, while medical and wellness tech made a strong showing. The television industry remained reliable in pulling out showstopping new screens and concepts, but for the second year in a row Amazon’s Alexa was arguably the big winner despite not having a booth of its own.

If you want to find out more about 2018’s biggest tech trends and how they will affect your industry, drop us a line, we love chatting about this stuff.

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