The Consumer Electronics Show 2020 saw the latest offerings in tech being debuted on the global stage. As technology has become the foundation of major industries from manufacturing to healthcare, the blend of traditional tech companies as well as the non-traditional on the show floor demonstrate that business models are being massively transformed. Electronic toothbrushes now purportedly use AI, exoskeletons are being trialed at a US airline and health insurance is being sold with an app that sense and assess policyholder stress levels to formulate premiums. Governments, businesses and consumers are all trying to find a way forward towards better products, services, experiences with greater cost benefits and productivity.
As a new decade begins major transformations are afoot, and the CES highlighted a renewed sense of optimism as the following themes dominated. 5G connectivity has arrived and will begin to scale, enabling so much change as escalating levels of connectivity occur between devices. Digital health covers wearables, bed/sleep technology and financial services to advance well-being. The “star of the show” was Artificial Intelligence (AI) - a much-vaunted piece of vocabulary, but clearly something which is shaping our future.
The CES showcases the “art of the possible”, but in relation to AI there were some notable words of caution. Former Member of Congress and current Director of the US Trade and Development Agency Darrell Issa talked at a keynote speech about the world facing ‘an existential threat’ and grave concerns of national security with AI. Moreover, he went onto say that whoever leads in AI will lead in industry and weapons systems. Other commentators felt that AI was not a ‘one winner takes all’ race to the top, but new draft US government policy released just that week to have ‘light-touch’ regulation over AI development, as well as renewed guidance over Autonomous Vehicle development (AV) at the federal level show that this race is being taken seriously at all levels of government.
If you thought that 5G was just about faster mobile speed and lower latency on your smartphone, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon has much bigger ideas. He believes that we live in a mature mobile society today, but the smartphone form factor is not going away despite its limitations. There will be more ‘companion devices’, whether it be eye-glasses, automotive or any other IoT device. The elevator pitch is that 5G will allow access to processing power of a hyper-scaled cloud to many vertical markets as possible, and hence use-cases will develop and grow.
Amon made a comparison to the 4G roll-out, where speed was then seen as the only attraction. Noting that certain markets like South Korea and the US ‘took the bet’ that new powerful digital economies would emerge from it, it is not coincidental that from these markets gave birth to Uber, Instagram and the likes of social platform LINE. 5G is expected to be similar, but one specific aspect he believes is that 5G will allow current individual YouTuber-types to become fully-fledged broadcasters in their own right.