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CES 2019 Round-up


Companies from a range of sectors descend onto CES every year, and this year was no different, with 4,500 companies presenting to 180,000 in Las Vegas. From transport and health to all-encompassing growing markets such as digital centralisation, the show features tech which could shape every aspect of our lives. Many of the innovations showcased at events such as CES, Wired and SXSW are becoming increasingly smaller applications of what was once a trailblazing development.

The most prominent example of this were exhibits relating to the ‘smart home’. While the technology has recently seen increased levels of discussion about data security, exciting innovations from both start-ups and established companies continue to solve needs in the space. Smart mirrors, smart baby toys, smart pressure cookers – even smart lavatories –all featured at CES 2019, showing that the proliferation of voice-controlled home devices is still on the rise.

We’ve discussed previously the increasingly blurred lines between software and hardware, so it’s no surprise that companies are trying to make the most of the opportunity to enter the smart home market - revenues in smart home devices reached more than £700m in the UK this year, and it is predicted that the global smart home market will reach over $53.45bn by 2022.

For tech designed to make home life one seamless journey of control, integration of these solutions doesn’t always promise convenience. While there has been worries over the market becoming monopolised, interoperation between devices is often the biggest hindrance in the market. At the heart of this sector remains the smart speaker. According to data from YouGov, one in ten people in the UK own a smart speaker, with ownership doubling since late last year. The majority market share which Amazon has owned for some time is beginning to shrink as new entrants flood the sector.  

Another piece of tech which has been teased, tested and showcased numerous times in recent years is the development of autonomous vehicles, although it was less of a focus compared to past events given the negative press and growing regulation concerns which have surrounded the technology. Again, the technology has provided a platform for smaller applications to solve the problems it presents. Aside from the manufacturers of the vehicles, the companies providing the sensory and mapping technology behind them were also present. Manufacturers still took the opportunity to demonstrate future possibilities, from Byton’s luxury SUV, featuring a 48-inch curved dashboard display, to Hyundai’s futuristic ‘walking car’ model, innovations in transport remain a core discussion.

Health and wellbeing continues to remain a focal point for tech companies looking to maximise on the mounting media focus on mental health. Health tech gadgets have never been more prevalent than they were at this year’s CES. According to the Consumer Technology Association, the organisation behind the show, the number of digital health companies at this year’s event has risen to 511, up from 472 a year ago. Which is fitting given how quickly the market is constantly evolving.

From specialised medical devices which help people manage long term conditions to consumer lifestyle products such as smart kettlebells, this market has the potential to be driven by new tech more than any other in the coming years. As businesses increasingly begin to understand and adopt technology that can benefit productivity, areas such as sleep tech are becoming ever more prominent, with the dedicated section of CES growing 22% from last year’s conference.

It wasn’t all smaller applications feeding into wider innovations. Verizon put 5G at the core of its keynote presentation, while Qualcomm announced its intention to produce more than 30 5G-capable devices this year. AT&T announced that it will introduce an interim ‘5G E’ service that promises 50% faster internet speeds in many places. While it may be some time before this becomes a reality, some speakers were already looking ahead to 10G networks. The race amongst developers is certainly on, with an estimated $200bn in spending set to be released on 5G product development.

There are a number of factors outside the markets which could determine to integration of these innovations into our everyday lives. Revenue warnings, trade disputes; recent market volatility; and concerns over regulation will all play a role. The technology never fails to impress, but when the new innovations becomes as commonplace as smart speakers is another question. The issue is that industries may have to hurdle more obstacles in the short term before we can enjoy the possibilities of this technology outside of demonstrations.

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