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Business Leaders Reflect on Insights From CES 2019

From 8-11 January 2019, more than 182,000 entrepreneurs, manufacturers, retailers and techies gathered at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, to glimpse what’s next in consumer tech. On display were modular, flat and rollable TVs, self-driving cars, space-saving monitors, crypto-currency wallets, the Impossible Burger 2.0 and even a robot that neatly folds the laundry.

The CES conference program highlighted key trends, emerging innovations and breakthrough ideas from more than 4,400 exhibiting companies. Preparing to accelerate what’s next, YPO launched its fourth annual YPO Innovation Week at CES with its own cutting-edge panel discussions on robotics and machine intelligence, wearable technology, internet of things (IoT) and medical technology.

“It’s interesting to see that CES is less about consumer electronics these days and more about innovation across every aspect of business and consumer,” says CEO of Nitrous Effect Keith Alper. “It blew me away that everything from entertainment, health, IoT to Voice and VR were significantly represented.”

Six YPO members who attended CES share their top insights from the 2019 program:

Smart everything just keeps getting smarter.

Some of the best ideas in tech aren’t the ones that transform lives, but the ones that make our daily routines a bit easier. Many of the best smart products are designed to do just that. “There’s a whole lot of focus on smart technology — using, building and applying smart technology across all of these different industries and different aspects of everyone’s lives,” says CEO of Cemtrex Saagar Govil, who is helping to reinvent the personal workspace with the Cemtrex SmartDesk.

It’s all about being connected.

The connected home of the future can feature everything from smart speakers to smart doorbells and smart garage doors. “The smart home was a major focus point with an explosion of devices covering every room and need — from security, lighting automation, TVs (thinner, double sided, curved, retracting), clothing (closets, washing, folding, steaming), smart mirrors, beds and much more,” says CEO of Plastic Mobile Sep Seyedi.

Voice is the new interface.

All these smart home trends are voice integrated and controlled. In the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to control your home and many other devices solely through your voice. “Voice activation has evolved to become more natural and with fewer errors,” says Former Chairman of CTA, owner of the CES Show and current member of the Executive Board of CES Daniel Pidgeon. “AI continues to help machines learn and predict in ways that reduce frustration with devices. Virtually every consumer electronics device now features some level of voice control that will impact how we interact with technology.”

“The explosion of eSports is changing the landscape of who is and who can become a celebrity.” – Brad Howard, President of Trend Nation 

It’s the year of the digital assistant.

Many voice-controlled devices leverage Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant to provide powerful voice capabilities. Both Amazon and Google have teamed up with makers — from major manufacturers to startups — to incorporate their virtual assistants into their products. “More manufacturing companies are hedging their bets and working with multiple systems and new partnerships are evolving,” says CEO and Owner of Broadthink Cynthia Cleveland. “Apple is embedding ITunes in LG, Sony and Samsung TVs. Google, Harmon and Samsung created a digital cockpit for vehicles. Procter & Gamble displayed for the first time with innovations from Gillette, Olay and Oral-B brands.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay.

The real star of all this technology is AI. It’s making innovations in personal technology possible. “AI will ultimately be the backbone of the connected IoT device world,” says CEO of 1105 Media, Inc. Rajeev Kapur. “The technology and products that are on the market today are only the tip of the iceberg, a 1.0 if you like.” AI makes everyday appliances smarter, automated and connected. “Companies and startups are leveraging machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing in big ways,” says Seyedi. “For example, Alibaba’s video chat does real-time audio translations between buyers and sellers and Segway’s Loomo leverages intelligent AI vision to follow you, carry things for you and perform any other tasks.”

Autonomous cars advance to the start line.

Self-driving cars may not be ready for mainstream yet but that doesn’t diminish the tech world’s fascination over the imminent possibility. “We saw self-driving technologies leveraged for shuttles, taxis and delivery logistics (small and large loads),” says Seyedi. “With the advent of self-driving cars and shuttles there was also discussion around the impact on our cities and the civil engineering required to plan for the future.” The possibilities for this technology are stretching far beyond cars to towable vehicles, underwater devices, utility vehicles and rotocrafts. “Bell Helicopters showed off a flying taxi and Valeo an invisible trailer,” says Kapur. “John Deere even got in the act with an autonomous tractor.”

“5G connectivity will transform industries, enabling everything from digital health to smart cities and self-driving cars to gaming and virtual environments.” – Cynthia Cleveland, CEO and Owner of Broadthink 

The time to prepare for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is now.

While AR and VR technology is still in the early stages, it is becoming clearer that it will have profound implications when it matures. “The applications are quite broad in terms of how it can change different experiences, how you showcase the products, how customers interact with your brand, how different types of tools can be built for these new experiences,” says Govil. “The technology will be really powerful and it’s going to hit very fast so it’s important to plan around that.”

5G is coming soon to a service near you.

The new network will not only deliver data at incredibly fast speeds but will also improve bandwidths and the communication between devices that rely on AI. “5G connectivity will transform industries, enabling everything from digital health to smart cities and self-driving cars to gaming and virtual environments,” says Cleveland. “Clinical Trial Agreement (CTA) research predicts more than USD34 billion will be spent to create smarter cities by 2020.”

eSports may have an Olympic future.

“The explosion of eSports is changing the landscape of who is and who can become a celebrity,” says President of Trend Nation Brad Howard. “Age, weight, gender, physical health and location do not matter in this new digital gaming landscape that’s crowning celebrities and millionaires daily. The League of Legends Championships had more viewership than the NBA Finals, World Series and the Stanley Cup combined.”

Wearables have a healthy outlook.

People are already tracking their steps through wearables. Now, they can learn more about their behaviors, so that they can make their own health decisions. “Health and fitness products are where technology can make a huge impact in our daily lives,” says Pidgeon. “Think about clothing that can detect falls, body temperature or vital signs. A wristwatch that detects sugar levels continuously versus having to draw blood can help predict a health issue in advance, so the user may take corrective action. There are literally thousands of these innovations dedicated to healthy lives.”

For more information and to register for YPO Innovation Week, 12-18 May 2019, visit the website.

Melissa Fleming has previously worked for Catchafire, Fast Company, Harper’s Bazaar, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Time Out New York Kids, Town & Country and Vogue, among others.