The globalizing nature of technology is more apparent at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) than perhaps any other event in the world. The conference hosted an estimated 55,000 international attendees (out of 180,000 total attendees) and with them came the various political and economic storylines that will both influence and be influenced by tech development and implementation around the world.
With Brexit looming, there was a clear push towards focusing on UK tech development with more than 100 UK tech companies in attendance this year and the British Pavilion at Eureka Park more than doubling in size from 2018. France continued to build on its tech focus with 325+ companies in attendance as members of La French Tech ecosystem. China, as it has for many years, also had a strong contingent with an entire hall focused on Chinese innovation, but this year saw a 20 percent dive in Chinese companies represented at the show, likely due to the current China/US trade disputes.
Why is this important? The economic and political impacts of the technology launched at CES extends across borders and weaves itself into the political and economic conversations around the world and in the year ahead these three tech trends will be front and center:
AI and the war of virtual assistants
One of the first things many attendees saw when arriving at CES was the enormous outdoor Google booth showcasing some of the one billion devices that now work with “Assistant”. Amazon’s presence was also hard to miss with a substantial presence at the Venetian, which included an Alexa enabled Audi car and motorcycle helmet.
Although Amazon and Google’s physical presence were noteworthy, their influence in nearly every technology sector represented at the show was arguably more so. From smart cars to coffee pots, integrating with the AI assistants was a crucial selling point.
However, their influence wasn’t only found in integrations. Many companies were concerned about the vast amounts of personal data these companies could and are collecting. Snips, an AI powered voice assistant touted their key value proposition as an AI assistant that does not store any of your personal data and therefore could not sell it off. Expect the conversations around AI, efficiency and privacy laws to be as hot as ever in 2019.
5G is coming to the B2C and B2B market
If you thought the news cycle around 5G was overwhelming in 2018, expect 2019 to take the conversation even further. The CEO’s from Verizon and AT&T both headlined as CES speakers, touting the upcoming 5G revolution.
All the major telecoms providers are either currently rolling out or planning to roll out 5G pilot markets. We can expect to see some consumer products with 5G in 2019, but there are still some hurdles to overcome as 5G standards have not been fully defined and cost could prevent mass consumer adoption off the bat.
In addition to consumer applications, the major carriers were also talking about the benefits of 5G for enterprise applications. Due to the cost, it’s likely that the B2B space will have some of the earliest 5G case studies with IoT devices and edge computing benefitting the most from the technology. With IoT and edge computing already driving various technology and economic conversations, expect 5G to breath additional life into these storylines as countries continue to attract and build-out modern industry which leverages the most up-to-date infrastructure.
The topic of autonomous cars has been hot for a few years now, but don’t expect that to cool down at all this year. This was probably the most discussed topic at CES and it was not a question of if they will hit the roads and change various business models, but when.
The technology ecosystem around autonomous vehicles will touch on every hot tech vertical from cybersecurity to IoT and AI. Additionally, the economic conversations around potential job loss will continue to be a contentious and well discussed topic.